Erratic pitching haunts Panthers
If there was an area the Corydon Central Panthers knew they would have to work on in the early part of the baseball season, it was pitching.
Five pitchers took the ball Monday against Austin, and several struggled with command.
The Panthers scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead. The five free passes (three walks and two hit batters) issued by Corydon Central in the first four innings more than doubled during the next two frames.
The walks and hit batters came back to favor Austin, who scored five in the sixth inning, going on to win 8-4 in the Mid-Southern Conference opener for Corydon Central.
In all, Corydon Central pitchers walked nine and hit five batters.
‘This, 14 walks, has been a problem the first few games,’ Corydon Central coach Zach Sipes said. ‘I knew walks would come back to bite us. When you play a good team, opportunities can’t be given away. We held them to six hits, but they also had 14 free bases. You can’t do that.’
Austin loaded the bases off of Corydon Central reliever Tyler Stauth in the top of the fifth. When Austin Gum took the hill for Stauth, he pegged the first batter in the middle of the back, allowing a run to score. With no outs and the bases loaded, Gum worked out of the jam, striking out a batter then serving up a pair of balls hit in the infield for outs.
Walks worked in the favor of the Panthers in the bottom half of the fifth when Clayton Schreck and Zach Mason drew one-out passes.
Stauth delivered a hard-hit single through the left side of the infield, plating Schreck.
Aggressive base running, a double steal by the duo of Alec Saulman and Stauth, saw the Austin catcher sling the ball to left field, allowing a run to score.
More singles followed for the Panthers. Adam Yeager, Jordan Ripperdan and Gum laced balls to the grass in the wet and rainy conditions.
The end result was a 4-1 Corydon Central lead.
‘We did a good job in the top of five getting out of a jam,’ Sipes said. ‘We go in and put three up, but our pitchers struggled after that.’
Gum lost his command in the sixth, hitting the first batter before walking the next two.
Saulman came in relief and gave up run-scoring hits, a single by Gavin Napier and a double by Josh Helton. A ground-rule double to left by Helton knotted the game at 4.
After swiping third, Helton tagged home after Tanner Craig’s line drive was caught on the run by left fielder T.J. Mathes.
The Eagles would load the bases again (hit batter and two walks), but Saulman induced an inning-ending ground-out.
‘Pitching is something that is ongoing for us,’ Sipes said. ‘I told them there were 14 counts we were 1-1 and we lost nine of those counts. Instead of going 1-2, we go 2-1, and balls become contagious.’
Corydon Central’s Mathes led off the bottom of the sixth by smacking a double to left. He later was thrown out trying to swipe third.
Adding to its 6-4 lead, Craig hit a towering homer with two outs in the seventh, sealing the win.
Mason started on the hill for the Panthers and was effective at holding the Eagles off the scoreboard. He walked three and struck out five while giving up just two hits. Mason also hit two batters.
Gum, Saulman and Ripperdan threw an inning each while Stauth failed to record an out in his appearance.
‘All we want is our pitchers to challenge their hitters, and they didn’t do it,’ Sipes said. ‘Our pitch counts then get way too high.’
Stauth and Ripperdan had two hits for Corydon Central. The first of two RBIs for Stauth came in the first inning, driving home Mason.
Napier paced the Eagles’ offense with a 3-for-4 day. Craig contributed four RBIs.
The loss was the first on the season for Corydon Central, which started 4-0.
‘We’ve won four games, but they were teams we should beat,’ Sipes said. ‘In those games, we have struggled to throw strikes. We can do two things: lose confidence in everything or focus to get better tomorrow in this one area. That’s pitching. They are putting in work; it just hasn’t shown in games yet. If we work at this, we can hit our goal of getting there and ready for sectional.’
Dakota Stashke, a submarine-type sidearm pitcher, earned the win by going four innings in relief. He struck out three while giving up three earned runs.
Corydon Central looks to pick up an MSC win tomorrow (Thursday), when the Panthers head to Charlestown.
Austin 000 015 2 ‘ 8 6 1
Corydon Central 100 030 0 ‘ 4 8 1
W ‘ Stashke, L ‘ Saulman.
2B ‘ Helton (A), Mathes (CC); HR ‘ Craig (A).