Blazers fall 5-2 to Blake in home opener
What was supposed to be a triumphant home and season opening victory for the Blazers and senior starting pitcher Matt Ludington became a demoralizing, lackluster showing, leaving the Blazers with even more bumps and bruises than they had started with.
After being sidelined with an AC joint separation for the entirety of last season, Ludington was pitching against a young Bengal squad on Wednesday. Although they were stacked against a Blair dugout complete with nine seniors and twelve upperclassmen overall, the Bengals' youth would not give an inch.
As the mercury hovered around forty degrees, Ludington silenced the Bengals early, pitching two Blake outs. But, Blake's Mike Schmidt would warm up the offense with a double into centerfield. Blake's next two batters, Taylor Schallhorn and Frankie Poulos followed Schmidt's lead, hitting a single and a double, respectively. Finishing off Blake's hot streak was pitcher Ryan Rehman, smashing a double into deep right field and allowing both Schallhorn and Poulos to score, extending the advantage to 3-0.
Recovering from a poor defensive showing in the first inning, the Blazers responded on the defensive end, tagging a runner out on a steal to finish the second and allowing only one hit in the third.
Blair's defensive luck would begin to run low in the fourth. With a man on third and second and one out, Blake's Will Messett stepped up to squeeze in runner Mike Schmidt. Messett's bunt bounced toward third baseman Keith Ingram, who quickly returned the ball to catcher Dylan Baird, but the throw fell short. As Baird readied to catch the ball, Schmidt collided into him, leaving both motionless on the ground. Still shellshocked, Baird managed to pick himself up, locate the ball a few feet away from him, and tag Schmidt for the second out of the inning. Schmidt was able to recover his breath and play in the next inning, but Baird did not return to the game, out with a season-ending shattered collarbone.
For Blair manager John MacDonald, this is just another in a long line of injuries for the team. "Frustrating is an understatement," he says, "it's sad, sad that these guys won't be able to play."
Blake manager Steve Murfin also commented on the accident, noting that Baird is a "fine ballplayer" and "an unfortunate loss for Blair."
Although Blair would score two runs late in the seventh, the game was full of missed offensive opportunities. At the bottom of the fifth, the Blazers took advantage of Blake reliever Anthony Hanagan, and was poised to score with the bases loaded, one out and senior Zach Hall at bat. Unfortunately, a short hit into right field would result in Blake double play, ending the inning and Blair's best scoring opportunity.
Statistically, the Blazers were only outhit 6-5. According to MacDonald, Blake "walked more batters, committed more errors" but Blair was simply unable to take advantage of a number of scoring opportunities. "I have a hardworking team with a great attitude, but we're not talented at everything," which makes every scoring opportunity crucial.
MacDonald's primary concern is dealing with loss of his starting catcher, especially with a doubleheader coming up on April 2. With few options and a number of starters disabled by minor injuries, the Blazers short roster will next be tested at home by the Churchill Bulldogs, Monday, March 26 at 3:30 p.m.
Elsi Wu. Elsi Wu is really a middle-aged, obese Italian man. A perky CAP junior who lives for ESPN, Superbowl Sunday, Poms, and food, she watches Friends and Oprah RELIGIOUSLY along with any Redskins/Maryland games (you know, normal activities for the average obese Italian man). Instead of … More »