Home Longwood baseball rally falls short in snowy opener

Longwood baseball rally falls short in snowy opener


longwood logoAfter driving 500 miles south to avoid the snow in Virginia, Longwood found itself battling cold, snowy conditions in the series opener with Ohio. A week after Longwood let a 7-2 ninth inning lead slip away, the pregame message was simple: keep playing and keep fighting until the very end. Longwood did just that, but Bobcat center fielder Manny DeJesus had a pair of base knocks, scoring twice as Ohio stymied a pair of Lancer comeback attempts in a 6-4 victory at Perfect Game Park.

“I thought our guys played really hard and competed for all nine innings,” said Longwood coach Ryan Mau. “We obviously just came up a little short, but I wasn’t disappointed at all in their effort.”

For the third time in four games, the blue and white tallied in the top of the first, but Ohio struck back with a pair of its own in the bottom half as senior ace Aaron Myers seemed slightly off of his usual dominant self. The 6-3, 225-pound right-hander would finish his day after 6.0 innings of work, having conceded five runs on seven hits.

Much like his first start a week ago, Myers found support in a big way thanks to Kyri Washington. The slugger bombed his fourth home run of the season to bring the Lancers even at two-all in the top of the fifth. Each of Washington’s four hits this season have landed beyond the outfield wall.

While Washington’s blast tied the game, Ohio had an answer, as it did for each of Longwood’s comeback attempts. In what might have the perfect play to depict Friday’s game, DeJesus blooped a shallow double down the left field line, scoring a run and sparking a three-run fifth for the Bobcats.  Ohio would never relinquish the lead as Logan Cozart tossed a scoreless 2.2 innings for the save.

Longwood got off to a great start after notching a run in the top of the first after Brandon Delk singled home Connar Bastaich who was hit-by-pitch. Bastaich advanced to third on a passed ball and a wild pitch before scoring on Delk’s grounder through the right side. While scoring in the first is always a positive, it could have been more.

Throughout the fall and preseason, aggression has been a point of emphasis for the Lancers’ new coaching staff. Tonight, that aggression was costly, as the Lancers ran into four outs on the base paths and wiped out potential runs. Twice Longwood baserunners lost their footing on the snow-slickened turf leading to easy putouts in the tough conditions; one of those times came when Delk rounded first hard in the opening frame, only to blow a tire and hit the turf in no-man’s land.

“I thought we made some aggressive mistakes on the bases tonight that may have taken some runs off the board,” said Mau.

Ohio struck right back in its half of the first, tacking a two-spot on the board after Myers got off to a rocky start. The Bobcats took advantage of Myers’ off performance, touching the Lancers’ ace up for five runs and becoming the first team to put up five runs on the right-hander since Gardner-Webb on May 23, 2013.

“That’s two in a row where [Myers] has gotten off to a slow start for us,” said Mau. “That’s something we’re going to have to address with his weekly routing and see if we can change some things to get him out of the gate cleaner. I thought he was up in the zone early in the game and three walks is really uncharacteristic for a guy like him.”

After Washington’s blast to left tied the game in the top of the fifth, Myers came out looking for a shutdown inning. Instead, Ohio tallied three times, changing the tide of the game.

After Tyler Finkler walked to open the inning and stole second, Manny DeJesus blooped a lazy fly ball down the left field line. As a trio of Lancers converged about 50 feet beyond the infield, the ball fell just steps in from of the left fielder Washington and bounded into foul territory for an RBI-double.

A batter later, Mitch Longo laced a ball into the right field corner which got caught in the windscreen for a ground-rule double, scoring DeJesus. The bad-luck inning continued as Jake Madsen bounced a high-chopper to second with the infield in; Longo broke from third and appeared dead-to-rights, but second-baseman C.J. Roth’s throw was to the first-base side of the plate, allowing the runner to slide in safely.

Even with the three-run deficit, the Lancers had their opportunities to level the score. All told, Longwood left ten men on base, a season high for the blue and white. After a weekend in which the Lancers found clutch hit after clutch hit, Longwood went just 1-for-10 as a team in RBI opportunities.

“I thought we’ve done a great job up to this point with two-out hits,” Mau said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to deliver in those situations and cash in. We’re going to shake it up a little bit lineup-wise tomorrow and see if we can’t get a little more production in a couple of spots.”

Longwood’s best chance to draw even came in the top of the seventh as the Lancers scored twice to make it a 5-4 ball game. The blue and white took advantage of a pair of Ohio errors in the frame to pull within a run without benefit of a hit. The Lancers brought the tying run 90 feet from the plate, but the turf monster struck again as this time, Sammy Miller stumbled on a passed ball and was caught out in between third and home.

The Lancers were lead at the plate with two hit days from Colton Konvicka and Brandon Delk. Konvicka reached base in three of his four plate appearances to bring his team-leading on-base percentage to .500. Delk, meanwhile, had a 2-for-4 day including one of Longwood’s three RBI. While Washington was just 1-for-4 on the day, the left-fielder upped his home run total to four and put together several good at-bats, including a 10-pitch appearance when he reached on an error.

“Colton’s doing an outstanding job of rolling the lineup back to the top,” said Mau. “I really like what we are seeing from him at the plate. I also thought Washington and Delk had some great at-bats, obviously Washington deposited another ball, but more importantly, they put some really good swings on the baseball.”

On the mound, freshman Michael Catlin was impressive in his second outing as a Lancer. The 6-4, 220-pound southpaw tossed 1.2 innings allowing just a single run and a single hit. Catlin also fanned a pair of Bobcats in the seven batters he faced. Behind Catlin, Luke Simpson finished the game out by retiring the only batter he faced, limiting the damage to just one in the Bobcat eighth.

“I thought Catlin came in against the heart of the lineup and did an outstanding job of competing,” Mau said. “With the exception of one mistake pitch that ended his outing, I thought he did a great job for us today. Luke came in and did his job well and I was pleased with what we saw today out of the bullpen. Now we just need to get a better start out of Burnette and Vick this weekend.”

Longwood looks to bounce back with a short turnaround as the Lancers and Bobcats square off in game two of the seriesSaturday morning at 9 a.m.



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