|Wildcats fall in NWC baseball heart-breaker|
|Thursday, April 24, 2014 8:00 PM|
By JIM METCALFE
HARROD — In close baseball games, winning and losing usually comes down to little things, such as errors.
In Thursday afternoon’s Jefferson at Allen East contest at John W. Fleming Field, the Mustangs took advantage of a key error in the fifth inning that opened the door to a 3-run rally and a 3-2 Northwest Conference triumph.
The Wildcats (10-6, 2-2 NWC) had scored twice in the top of the first and was sailing along until the bottom of the fifth. Colton Schilling led off with a free pass off of Jefferson senior hurler Tyler Rice (2-1; 6 innings pitched, 4 hits, 3 unearned runs, 3 bases-on-balls, 2 strikeouts; 100 pitches, 66 for strikes) but was forced at second by Cody Musselman. He stole second. An out later, Tanner Stippich got aboard via a throwing error, putting runners on the corners. With Stippich taking off for second, Travis Wireman singled into left, plating Musselman and putting Stippich at third. Wireman took off for second on a steal and Eric Neeley doubled to deep left, getting both runners home for a 3-2 lead. Brent Wilson lined a hit into left and an error on the play allowed the batter to reach second. However, Braden Goodwin bounced out to end the damage.
“In close games, you’ll win some and lose some. In that one inning, one play made the difference,” Jefferson coach Doug Geary said. “We didn’t score enough runs and we had chances to get more. We hit the ball better today than we have all week — I haven’t been able to say that this week — but we hit some hard ones right at people. That’s baseball.”
The Red and White tried to tie it in the sixth as Hunter Binkley blooped a hit into right center off starter Neeley (4-1; 7 IPs, 5 hits, 2 earned runs, 4 BBs, 8 Ks; 108 pitches, 65 for strikes), stole second and moved to third on an infield hit off diving first sacker Jacob Lawrence by Ross Thompson (2-for-3, 2 runs batted in). Thompson stole second but Neeley got out of the frame unscathed. Musselman got aboard on a 2-out miscue in the sixth and swiped second but went no further.
Jefferson wasn’t done in the seventh. Teman walked but was thrown out — just barely — trying to steal second by Goodwin, much to the consternation of the Wildcat fans. Adam Rode walked but went nowhere to end the contest.
“Eric got off to a slow start but got stronger as the game wore on. He located his pitches better and started mixing them up and moving them around,” Allen East Brent Engle noted. “We played great defense behind him. We had two long talks this week about getting back to the basics, especially fielding the ball. Their pitcher did a nice job as well but we kept at it. It was frustrating but we finally broke through, taking advantage of our opportunities.”
Jace Stockwell led off the Delphos first with an infield hit up the middle and Binkley walked. A wild pitch moved both up and both scored as Thompson belted a 2-run double to left center. An out later, Gage Mercer walked but both runners were left on base.
With one down in the Wildcat second, Ryan Bullinger chopped one into left field. Attempting a steal, Stockwell lined hard to second baseman Wilson, who tagged Bullinger out for a twin-killing. That commenced a string of 11 straight outs until the sixth inning.
The Mustangs (10-4, 2-2) didn’t nick Rice until a leadoff walk in the third to Brent Ketchum. He was forced at second by Schilling and an error on as pickoff try put him at second. Rice got out of the frame with no more damage.
The Mustangs loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth on a walk to Stippich, an error on a pickoff try, a ground single into left by Wireman, a stolen base and a comebacker by Neeley; Rice ran Stippich back to third to load the bases. However, Rice got out of the inning with no damage, especially thanks to a 2-down diving catch by centerfielder Josh Teman in right center.
“Tyler pitched OK. He wasn’t great by any means,” Geary added. “What he did do was pitch out of a couple of jams.”
Jefferson hosts Bluffton Monday.
Jace Stockwell ss 4-1-1-0, Hunter Binkley lf 2-1-1-0, Ross Thompson 3b 3-0-2-2, Austin Jettinghoff 2b 3-0-0-0, Gage Mercer dh 2-0-0-0, Nick Fitch c 0-0-0-0, Tyler Rice p 3-0-0-0, Josh Teman cf 2-0-0-0, Adam Rode lf 2-0-0-0, Ryan Bullinger 1b 3-0-1-0. Totals 24-2-5-2.
ALLEN EAST (3)
Cole Basham cf 4-0-0-0, Tanner Stippich ss 2-1-0-0, Travis Wireman 3b 3-1-2-1, Eric Neeley p 3-0-1-2, Brent Wilson 2b 3-0-1-0, Braden Goodwin c 3-0-0-0, Brent Ketchum dh 2-0-0-0, Jacob Lawrence 1b 0-0-0-0, Colton Schilling rf 3-0-0-0, Cody Musselman lf 3-1-0-0. Totals 26-3-4-3.
Score by Innings:
Jefferson 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 2
Allen East 0 0 0 0 3 0 x - 3
E: Rice 2, Stockwell, Brinkley, Jettinghoff; DP: Allen East 1; LOB: Jefferson 5, Allen East 7; 2B: Thompson; SB: Musselman 2, Binkley, Thompson, Wireman; CS: Teman (by Goodwin).
IP H R ER BB SO
Rice (L, 2-1) 6.0 4 3 0 3 2
Neeley (W, 4-1) 7.0 5 2 2 4 8