By Dennis Glade
Washington Times Herald
LOOGOOTEE — The Loogootee baseball team has aspirations for playing baseball in June, and heading into the postseason it might be playing its best ball of the season.
The Class A No. 12 Lions (14-7) defeated No. 7 Orleans (15-6) 5-3 Monday afternoon at Les Page Field behind a balanced offensive attack.
Loogootee got on the board quickly when leadoff hitter Jesse Horney drew a walk, stole second and scored the first run of the game on a Matt Mathies single to left field. Mathies, however, was thrown out attempting to stretch the hit to a double. The Lions pushed the lead to 3-0 on Will Nonte’s two-run single, which scored Waylon Matthews and Trevor Resler.
Loogootee then pushed the lead to 5-0 by tacking one run in each of the next two innings. First, Casey Miller notched a two-out RBI single to score Horney, and then in the fifth inning, Resler added a vital two-out insurance run off a wild pitch.
“We put the ball in play when we needed to,” said Loogootee coach Roger Bailey. “We got some runs with two outs, sometimes that doesn’t happen in this game, but we did it tonight.”
Loogootee junior starting pitcher Matt Mathies was brilliant through five innings, while allowing just three hits and striking out four - the sixth was a different story. Orleans managed to scratch across three runs on four hits to put real pressure on the Lions.
Orleans got RBI singles from Steven Phillips and Alec Meeks along with a sacrifice fly from Tommy Mitchell to cut the lead to 5-3 after six innings.
Mathies quelled any thought of a seventh inning comeback when the junior struck out two the final two batters of the game to finish the contest with eight strikeouts overall.
“Matt (Mathies) was pretty efficient on the mound,” Bailey said. “He did a nice job of staying ahead of hitters. I take some of the responsibility for the sixth inning, because I was calling pitches. When you got the 5-0 lead you talk about late in the game ‹ pound the zone. I called one too many fastballs in the third or fourth time through the lineup, so they’d seen him and I¹ll take the bad one on that.”
While the offense scored enough runs to secure the Lions’ 14th win of the year, Bailey knows his lineup can, and needs, to be better as the sectional approaches.
“We didn’t execute bunting, we had first and second with nobody out in the third inning - we had a chance to open it up - they get a force out a third base, and we didn’t get anything out of that inning,” Bailey said. “That five runs could have easily been eight, nine or 10 and we were even thinking of shortening the game. It was a good win - Orleans came in ranked No. 7 in Class A. I’m sure we’ll see them again down the road.”
Prior to the season, Bailey said he wanted his team to be playing its best baseball in May and June, and despite some early season struggles - the Lions seem to be getting hot at the right time.
“Every night out, any mistakes we make now we want to learn from,” Bailey said. “When we’re finished with the regular season on Saturday we want to be playing our best baseball at the right time. We are awfully close ¬‹our last five games we have played pretty well. Our pitching has been there all season long, and top to bottom it seems like we are finally starting to hit together and our defense is playing really well. I like where we’re at.”
Orleans 000 003 0 - 3 7 0
Loogootee 120 110 x - 5 10 0
Mathies and Matthews; Ca. Hall, Phillips (5th) and Ch. Hall.
2B: (O) Ca. Hall, Gerkin; (L) Matthews.