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April 23, 2007

Baseball shutout by defending division champs Wootton

by Elsi Wu, Online Sports Editor
After a blowout five-inning home game last week against division newbie Northwood, the Blazers got a taste of their own bitter medicine Thursday night against defending division champions Wootton, ending up on the losing end of a 9-0 shutout.

The game was a homecoming for second baseman Ruben Aguirre, who was unable to play the first half of the season. Even with the extra help, the Blazers could do little to ward off the Patriots' steady, disciplined offense and spectacular pitching.

With Josh Gordon on the mound in the first, the Patriots' scored their first run when centerfielder Sam Bender's line drive was dropped and allowed outfielder Peter Barrett to score. The inning ended shortly after when a hit by third baseman Matt Allred led to a quick out at first.

Energized after allowing only one run in the first, the Blazers' got off to a quick start on offense, but were unable to convert opportunities into runs. Centerfielder Zach Hall led off with a lined single in to left field. On his season debut, Aguirre drilled a single fly into left center field and rightfielder Gabe Sartor loaded the bases with a bunt. First baseman Jason Meer, tied for second on the team in RBI's, looked poised to bat in the Blazers' first score and possibly a lead, but was struck out by Wootton pitcher Mike Rudin. With only one out, Adam Kopp followed with a line drive into shallow right centerfield but the Wootton defense pounced with a 6-4-3 double play.

The Patriots' stable plug and chug offense continued in the second and the third, both resulting in two runs apiece to make the score 5-0. During the bottom of the third, the Blazers found themselves in a familiar position, bases loaded and Kopp at the plate. But, Kopp's hit soared into right field, directly into the glove of rightfielder Jason Sargent.

Characteristic of the season, the Blazers' botched prime scoring opportunities and inconsistencies then spilled over into the team's defense. At the top of the fourth, catcher Brain Maxin's drive towards left center field was caught by shortstop Chris Kidwell for the out. Sargent would follow with an identical hit, which turned into a single because of defensive mistiming. The next two batters loaded the bases, eventually giving the Patriots two more runs, the first on a walk, the second on a sacrifice hit.

With the score 7-0 at the top of the fifth, the Blazers were three runs away from losing by mercy rule. After coming in and getting the last out of the fourth inning, Kopp guaranteed two more innings of play with a hitless fifth inning.

Sartor started the sixth inning and pitched the rest of the game, holding the Patriots' scoreless in the sixth but allowing to additional runs in the seventh, upping the final score 9-0. Rudin pitched the entire game for Wootton and was credited with the shutout.

Though not reflected in the score, the Blazers' played a much more controlled game than usual, only allowing two runs at most per inning. "A big part of the game was a lack of clutch plays," cites Coach John MacDonald, referring to the first inning when the Blazers were unable to capitalize with the bases loaded.

Although MacDonald feels that "a varsity team should never be shut out," he credits his team with relatively solid play against a tough opponent. "Unlike other games, we never gave them a big inning. We were beaten by a better team and we didn't self destruct," he said.




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