The Loogootee baseball team had high expectations entering the season. Losing its first two Blue Chip Conference games was not part of the plan.
The Lions lost to conference rival Vincennes Rivet, 4-3, in eight innings Friday at Les Page Field.
With the game tied in the bottom of the seventh, Casey Miller stepped to the plate with the winning run - Matt Mathies - in scoring position. However, Miller fanned, sending the game into extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, Conner Wittmer ran into trouble on the mound for the Lions. Patriot Austin Woodruff reached base on an infield single.
Wittmer then advanced to second as a pickoff attempt from Wittmer was wild at first.
Gavin Benock was then hit by a pitch and Collin Vieke attempted to bunt him to second.
Wittmer fielded the bunt, but Wittmer's throw to first was mishandled by Hayden Bell to load the bases with none out.
After a Zach Templin grounder, Bell threw home to stop the Patriots from scoring, but the throw got away from catcher Waylon Matthews to give Rivet a
3-1 lead. Peyton Cummings then got his second RBI of the game for Rivet on a sacrifice fly for a 4-1 Rivet lead.
"We're in a situation where we have a guy on first, where it's only his second time playing first base in Hayden," Loogootee coach Roger Bailey said. "This was the first outing for Conner in seven days. In the seventh inning, they had a pop up bunt and we made a beautiful lay out play and doubled them off first. He (Wittmer) lobbed it a little and I think that caught Hayden by surprise. Those kinds of mistakes happen." The Lions tried to rally in the bottom of the eighth with the help of two errors from Patriot shortstop Tanner Thomas. The miscues helped the Lions score twice in the inning, but Alex Frye was left at second with the tying run.
Both teams scored in the first inning. Mathies was thrown out at third, trying to stretch a double into a triple after scoring Trevor Resler with the tying run.
A throw to second to catch Mathies got away from the Rivet infield, and Mathies was out trying to make third.
"The ball ricocheted off of his (Mathies) foot," Bailey said. "He looked and thought about it, and when he looked up, he saw the third baseman was breaking for the ball. He thought he could make it - that's a read. I let the guys have that freedom. He just didn't make it." The late rallies by both teams overshadowed what had been a great pitcher's dual. Gabe Nolley went six innings, allowing one and striking out four for Loogootee. Nolley retired 12 consecutive Patriots in one stretch.
Rivet's Chase Allen went seven innings while allowing one run and fanning six.
"It's his (Nolley) second outing a varsity pitcher," Bailey said. "He's just a sophomore and he's thrown really well. He's given us good depth, he's gone deep in both games and he just seems poised. He get outs, nothing flashy." The loss was the second of the week in Blue Chip games for the Lions who were earlier defeated by North Knox, 8-6. Bailey noted it's an unenviable position, but his Lions need to buckle down and get a rhythm.
"We not at all used to losing conference games," Bailey said. "We haven't lost one in a couple years and we compete for that. It¹s not June. It's not championship baseball - but in a way - it is. We are going to work hard to win every one from here on out and hope some other people in the conference beat up on each other. Maybe we'll get a share of it with two losses."
Vincennes Rivet 100 000 03 - 4 4 3
Loogootee 100 000 02 - 3 6 2
Allen, Wirth (8) and Benock. Nolley, Wittmer and Matthews. W-Allen.
L-Wittmer. 2B: (L), Mathies, 2.