Osbourn Park Wins Sloppy Let’s Take Two Final
A combined ten walks and hit batsmen over the first three innings were proof positive that neither Osbourn Park nor Patriot brought its "A" game to the finals of the Cropp Metcalfe Let's Play Two Tournament at Woodbridge High School Thursday.
But while the Yellow Jackets regained their composure after a brief lapse, the Pioneers fanned some self-induced flames en route to a 12-3 loss, their first in 2013.
OP starting pitcher Scott Soltis (Cornell) picked up the win in 4 and 1/3 innings of work. He stumbled in the second frame, issuing three walks and plunking Patriot's Josh Morrison. The Pioneers plated three runs in the inning, but Soltis righted the ship, setting down the Patriot line-up in order in the third and fourth.
According to Yellow Jackets' head coach Jack Ferrick, Soltis' struggles in the second may have been the result of his trying to do too much.
"He ran into that one inning where he kind of lost the zone for a little bit," said Ferrick of Soltis. "He was just trying to be a little too perfect. After we talked in the middle of that inning, I just said ‘ hey, settle down and use your defense.’"
Defensive miscues by Patriot manifested themselves in the form of the dreaded big inning, a seven-run third for the Yellow Jackets.
Back-to-back two-out errors directly resulted in four of OP's seven runs in the frame.
It wasn't the type of performance typically associated with the Pioneer program, now competing in its second varsity season.
"The one thing you know when you play Patriot is that they’re very well disciplined and very well-coached," said Ferrick.
Despite the fact that the Pioneer battery wasn't consistently pounding the strike zone, the Yellow Jacket hitters didn't step up to the plate looking for walks. And that goes back to their approach.
"When the pitch is there, we’re ready to swing," explained Ferrick. "We really work a lot in batting practice on working counts- 2-0, 0-0 counts. So when we get those opportunities, we’re still able to be aggressive, but be intelligent at the same time."
Senior Cliff Earhart doubled and scored in his first two at-bats. Earhart was cut from the program in 2012, but rebounded not only to make the team, but also cement his role in the Yellow Jackets' line-up this season.
"Cliff’s a bulldog, first to show up to practice, last to leave," said Ferrick. "He’s an extremely competitive kid, and I think that competitiveness and just that overall attitude of wanting to be around the game is what allowed him to come back after not making the team last year and be able to contribute in the way he did."
Osbourn Park is off to a hot 5-1 start, and the team is starting to gel around Ferrick and his first-year coaching staff.
"I think there’s a trust being built between the new coaching staff and the players that have been there," said Ferrick.
They'll face a stiff test when they host Hylton on this Tuesday, April 2nd.
If OP's top two arms continue to shine like they did in the first month of the season, the Yellow Jackets could be a tough out come postseason play.
"If we can have guys like Saul [Aguilerra] and Scott pitching the way they did," said Ferrick, "we’re going to have a chance to be a pretty good club."