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April 21, 2006

Blazers win a comedy of errors

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor

All season long, manager John MacDonald has harped that his Blair Blazers can't afford to make defensive mistakes. But if there was ever a time to make a cacophony of errors in the field, today was it.

Despite fielding that MacDonald called "atrocious," Blair's opponents managed to be worse. Blair made the Walter Johnson Wildcats pay for their six errors with 11 hits, and WJ didn't do the same in return. As a result, the Blazers cruised to a comfortable, if not pretty, 12-4 win at home tonight.

Blair (4-7) got five runs in the first inning off of WJ starting pitcher Jon Rapport and never looked back. Already up 2-0 with Gabe Fonte on second base, Blair's Jesse Mueller hit a lazy fly ball to Mike Doniado in left field. But Doniado lost sight of the ball, and it dropped over his head. Fonte scored and Mueller wound up on second base.

Alec Burns made the Wildcats (1-9) pay even more for their error, scoring Mueller with a triple that nearly cleared the fence in right field. Jason Meer singled to bring Burns home, and Blair cruised from there.

Mueller said that Blair's timely hitting helped them win tonight. "We hit really well in the clutch tonight," he said. "And more than that, when they made defensive errors, we made them pay."

Tommy Dugan started for Blair on the mound tonight, and pitched very well. He allowed one unearned run, which came home following a dropped fly ball in left field in the top of the third inning. But Dugan was pulled after three for what MacDonald would only call "disciplinary reasons."

In the bottom half of the third inning, Burns tripled again on his next at-bat, bringing home Zach Hall, who reached on yet another error. Then Meer hit a ground ball through the legs of shortstop Anthony Breen to bring home Burns.

Robert Riker replaced Dugan and was strong, going four innings and getting out of a major jam early. In the fourth inning with nobody out, he allowed a single and Mueller was charged with an error. Then the umpire called a balk on Riker. But he then got the next three hitters to pop out, strikeout and groundout to end the inning with no damage.

MacDonald glowed about Riker's relief appearance. "Riker picked us up when we needed it. If I was [WJ], I wouldn't have wanted to face him. He stepped up when we desperately needed him to."

Blair continued after that to take advantage of WJ's terrible fielding. In the fifth inning, Riker reached on a Nic Sutherland error at second base, and came home on Mueller's double. In the fifth inning, Sam Morris scored on a passed ball, one of three charged to the Wildcats in the game.

The Blazers allowed three inconsequential runs thanks to errors in the sixth inning. Jason Meer had two errors, while Morris and Burns had one each. At one point in the inning, an exasperated MacDonald yelled to nobody in particular, "Can someone on this team catch the damn ball?"

Of his team's defense, MacDonald was far from happy. "We were really bad out there in the field tonight. I can't explain why varsity baseball players can't catch a fly ball. All you have to do is catch it!"

But WJ's six errors neutralized the problem, and Blair managed to out hit the Wildcats 11 to five. And because the mistakes were so spread out, it created some interesting stats. Only six Blazers had a hit, but nine scored at least one run. Mueller, who went 2-for-4, reached base three times and scored on all those occasions. Even Avi Wolfman-Arent, who went 0-for-4, scored a run.

Lee Shields had two hits and a run. Morris, Dugan, Justin Vlasits and Meer each had one hit and one run. Burns scored twice and went 2-for-2, with both hits being triples.

MacDonald did credit his hitters for hitting the ball on the ground more, putting the Wildcats in a position to make mistakes. "When you hit the ball on the ground, there's a lot of ways that they can screw the play up. We made them have to earn every out tonight, and that was great."

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  • ? on April 24, 2006 at 1:06 PM
    what exactly were the 'disciplinary reasons' for taking dugan out? the article seemed purposefully vague, what happened?
  • er on April 24, 2006 at 11:29 PM
    uhmm... it doesn't seem like the author knows what the "disciplinary reasons" are either - maybe that's why he wrote, "...for what McDonald would only call "disciplinary reasons.""
  • Michael Bushnell (View Email) on April 25, 2006 at 11:45 AM
    Yeah, there's nothing more I can add to that that was both on the record and not hearsay.
  • John Macdonald on April 26, 2006 at 1:35 PM
    As the coach, I don't think that it's necessary for me to comment on a disciplinary action that may have occured during a game. That is not the business of the writer of the article, the fan, nor the reader. A baseball team is like a family. When your dad punishes you, does he tell the neighborhood about it? If so, my contention is that he's not a very good dad. What happens with the Blair baseball players during the course of the game is our (the team's) business. I'm not going to call anybody on my team out, nor would I expect them to call each other out. Tommy Dugan happens to be the best and most talented player on the baseball team. He is a captain and maybe sometimes I expect too much of him. Suffice it to say that everything is handled and we have moved on. I play my bench as much as any coach in the county. Tommy has not played in only four innings all season. Why - is none of anybody's concern.
  • meer on April 30, 2006 at 8:46 PM
    SCO should update our record... we've had 11 games since we were 1-3.
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