Central baseball downs Eagles, 7-3
BERRYVILLE — There’s your typical hard-luck losers in baseball, and then there’s what happened to David Betz Tuesday afternoon.
The Clarke County senior pitcher probably pitched well enough to win most games, but the fact that he walked off the mound with his team trailing by six runs in the seventh inning spoke volumes for how his day went.
Plagued by errors, a rash of infield singles and an offense that stranded seven runners, Betz and the Eagles dropped their Bull Run District opener to Central 7-3 at Singhas Field Tuesday.
“He pitched very well today,” said Clarke County coach Jon Novick. “He threw strikes, threw right around 95 pitches or so and he worked well. He was actually working a lot more efficiently than he’s been all year. I was pretty happy with the way he threw, we just didn’t back him up very well.”
Betz allowed 10 hits in the game, but five of them never left the infield and seven errors, including two each in the third, fifth and sixth innings, led to five unearned runs.
“He did what he needed to do,” said senior third baseman Ike Dofflemyer, who went 2 for 3 but accounted for three of the Eagles’ errors. “He came out and pitched a good game, he should have come out of there with two runs and we should have won that game.”
Three straight strikeouts to start the game seemed to signal the start of a strong outing for Betz, but things quickly began to unravel for Clarke County (2-4, 0-1 Bull Run) in the third inning.
An infield single, an error and a walk loaded the bases with no outs and junior Jordan Rau then beat out a slow roller to short to plate the first run of the game for Central (5-1, 2-0).
Still pitching with the bases loaded, Betz managed to get the next two batters to pop out before inducing a ground ball off the bat of senior John Plunkett.
But just as Eagle shortstop Jarrett Sowder (2 for 4 with an RBI) was about to scoop it up and get the force out at second to end the inning, the ball took a nasty hop right over his head, allowing two more runs to score.
Another error and a bloop single made it 5-0 before Betz finally got the third out.
“[Defense] really has not been an issue, we have not had that kind of a day [so far this season],” Novick said. “I don’t know what it was today, they put the ball in play a little bit more, but those are plays we should make.”
Stuck in a five-run hole, four of which were unearned, Clarke County needed its offense to break out of a four-game slump in which it had scored eight runs total (all losses).
But facing soft-throwing Plunkett, the Eagles just couldn’t break through.
They stranded two runners in both the fourth and fifth innings and didn’t get on the board until the sixth, when junior Evan Snapp (1 for 4 with a double) reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and third, and then came in to score when freshman designated hitter Michael Fields (1 for 3) smacked an RBI single to right center.
Plunkett would end up going six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out two and walking one.
“I was very pleased with how [Plunkett] pitched,” said Central coach Donn Foltz. “He does a good job of locating and mixing things up. He did a good job.”
Having been able to hold the Falcons scoreless after their five-run third, Betz again fell victim to a bout of bad luck in the seventh inning.
After giving up a one-out single to junior Hayden Bauserman, Betz watched a pair of dribblers in the infield go for hits to load the bases and Samuel Cornman’s sacrifice fly to center field pushed Central’s lead to 6-1.
Snapp then had a hard-hit, one-hopper go off his shoulder and his throw home was out of the reach of senior catcher Keith Hummer, allowing another unearned run to come across.
The Eagles finally managed to get to Plunkett in their final at bat with a pair of singles and a double to chase the Central starter, but Cody Sager came on in relief and managed to quell the rally, striking out Hummer (1 for 3) and getting Snapp to ground out to third to end the game.
“Ultimately it comes down to if you don’t score runs, it doesn’t matter how many errors you have in the field,” Novick said. “We just can’t string together hits. We were one hit short in three different innings right there of really busting it open. We have to be able to string together a couple more hits.”
For the game Clarke County finished with eight hits. Dofflemyer had a double and a run scored and junior Connor Liggett went 1 for 3 with a run scored.
Plunkett reached base four times, scored twice and had two RBIs for Central, and Bauserman went 2 for 4 with a run scored.
As frustrating a day as it was for Betz and the Eagles, Dofflemyer said it’s one they will learn from.
“We’ve got to come out to practice [today] and we’ve got to take a lot of fielding and get better at what we’re doing,” Dofflemyer said.
“[Offensively] I feel like we’re not seeing the ball right because we’ve got the good hitters, we’ve got enough hitters to hit the ball. They’re just not falling right now. But they’ll start to ... they have to.”
— Contact Kevin Trudgeon at email@example.comFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1