Blazers poor pitching leads to deafeat against Falcons, 5-3
This story was based on post-game interviews only and not on a first-hand account.
The Poolesville Falcons (4-6) beat varsity baseball (3-9) 5-3 in Blair's fourth loss in a row. Head coach John MacDonald attributed the loss to poor base running and a failure to make proper hitting adjustments.
While the game started out with a 1-1 tie, the Blazers hit a turning point after a fielding error in the third inning. A Poolesville batter bunted a ball to pitcher Sammy Denenberg, who tried to force a runner out at third but missed the third baseman. The runner scored, putting the score at 2-1 with Poolesville ahead. After the error, Denenberg allowed three consecutive hits that earned three more runs for Poolesville.
From the third inning forward, Blair didn't give up any more runs, but they were unable to overcome the two-point deficit due to a lack of adjustments that led to unproductive at-bats. According to junior Britton Smith, Blair should not have expected to have trouble against Poolesville's soft-throwing pitchers. "Theoretically, a pitcher pitching slow should be easy to hit," he said. However, he said that Blair's attempts to crush Poolesville's slow pitches resulted in fly balls and weak grounders that didn't put Blair batters on base.
In the fifth inning, Blair scored two runs off a triple by junior Nevin Brown, but this was the extent of their offensive success for the rest of the game. Brown was not batted in from third base, and MacDonald recognized that having runners on base in scoring position but failing to bring them home was a recurring problem during the game. Blair batters also committed multiple base running errors, which contributed to their problems sending runners past home plate.
One strong aspect of Blair's performance was their relief pitching – junior pitchers Evan Epps and Smith did not lose any runs while relieving Denenberg. Smith entered the game in the sixth inning with two Poolseville runners on base and no outs, but managed to keep Poolesville from scoring in both the sixth and the seventh. However, these innings were uneventful offensively for Blair, and the game ended at the fifth inning score of 5-3.
MacDonald noted that Blair's leading hitters have continued their strong hitting all season, especially junior Lucas Babinec, who has a .500 batting average. However, he said that to remain competitive, Blair needs to get more hits from the rest of its lineup. Babinec, Brown and seniors Alex Egber and Ben Hukill all have batting averages above .300, significantly higher than the rest of the team. "Their numbers are great, but it's not winning us games," said MacDonald.
Smith believed that Blair's problems hitting were caused in part by stress and nerves toward the end of the game. In most close games, he said, stress mounts increasingly in the later innings. He noted that while this tension hasn't fazed most other teams, Blair has trouble staying on top of their game in clutch situations. "We seem to crumble when we face a lot of pressure," he said.
According to MacDonald, Blair will be playing many powerhouse teams, including Churchill, Whitman and Blake in upcoming games. He hopes that the team will be able to step up to redeem itself and begin playing to its potential as it enters the second half of its season.
Varsity baseball plays its next home game against Gaithersburg on April 29 at 7:00 p.m.
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