By Dennis Glade Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald
LOOGOOTEE — LOOGOOTEE — As the old adage goes, “momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.” After two lopsided wins over the weekend, the Loogootee baseball team learned that two easy wins on Saturday didn’t guarantee anything in week two of the regular season.
The Lions (2-2) lost their Blue Chip Conference opener 12-6 against North Knox Tuesday night behind four RBIs from Shanson Lamb after seemingly everything went wrong in the first two innings.
Before many of the Lions fans were comfortably in their seats, starting pitcher Casey Miller was in a hole. North Knox’s Hunter Jones reached on a walk and Jordan Meurer singled to reach base and Shanson Lamb homered over the left field fence to give the Warriors a quick 3-0 before an out was recorded. Miller threw 30 pitches in the first, with an even amount of strikes and balls.
In the second inning, North Knox scored three more runs on an error by catcher Hayden Bell, a Miller walk to his counterpart, Christopher Graman and Luke McKinnon scored the sixth run of the night after Bell allowed a passed ball and the Warriors’ second basemen slid in safely under the tag of Miller. Miller threw 57 pitches in those first two innings and was not long for the game. He completed three innings before being pulled by coach Luke Woolems after allowing eight runs on five hits on 74 pitches. Miller walked four, hit two batters and struck out two.
“He was having trouble locating,” Woolems said. “The (strike) zone was a little tight early and we had a hard time adjusting. The walk, hit, home run to start the game rattled us a little bit. These guys haven’t thrown a lot of innings yet, this was only Casey’s second outing — it was over a week ago that he was out there for the first time. We’re not sure what we have yet and we’re still trying to figure it out.”
In the fifth inning, the Lions finally got something going offensively with two runs to cut the deficit to 8-3, but the damage could have been much greater.
The threat started with a single from Ben Blackwell and a double from Trevor Resler, which was followed by a two-run single by freshman Landon Bell. Bell took second on the throw home and leadoff hitter Gage Harder drew his second walk of the game to put runners at first and second for the Lions’ 2-3-4 hitters. Graman, however, found himself and retired Hayden Bell, Miller and Branden Wilz without surrendering any more damage.
Miller was relieved by Blackwell and he proceeded to throw three perfect innings to keep Loogootee’s hopes of a comeback alive, but the Lions couldn’t get any closer than 8-3. In the top of the seventh, the Warriors recorded four runs to effectively put the game out of reach on a Brett Ridgway two-run double and a Jordan Meurer’s two-run single.
“Ben (Blackwell) threw real well for us,” Woolems said. “That’s a situation of trying to figure out how much your guy has got and how deep he can go. Maybe we should have went to Frank (Bratton), but I thought he gave us three great innings. He kept the ball down and got outs.”
In their final time at the plate, Loogootee gave the home crowd something to take home with them. After Landon Bell and Harder made the first two outs of the inning, Hayden Bell, Miller and Wilz recorded back-to-back-to-back solo home runs to cut the North Knox lead to six. Gabe Nolley nearly made it 12-7, but his drive to center field fell short of the fence and ended a frustrating afternoon for the Lions.
Three straight homers for any team is exciting, but it left Woolems and the rest of the Lions’ faithful thinking what might have been after stranding two in the bottom of the fifth.
“That’s the game of baseball — we get three solo shots in the seventh where if you get one of them in that spot with the same three guys at the plate, it’s a completely different situation,” Woolems said.