Polk Wolverines fall to East Henderson Eagles 10-4Published 8:32pm Thursday, March 13, 2014
Polk County High School’s baseball team recorded its first win of the season last week, but was unable to build on that, in Monday’s 10-4 loss to East Henderson.
Still in search of his number two and three pitchers, head coach Ty Stott gave Dequan Gary the ball against the Eagles. Gary went two scoreless innings.
Polk took a 1-0 lead in the home first. Leadoff hitter Bryce Martin reached first on an infield single, after his high chopper deflected off the glove of the leaping third baseman, and was snagged by the shortstop. The speedy Martin beat the throw to first.
Daniel Painter, also Polk’s top pitcher, laid down a fine sacrifice bunt, sending Martin to second with one out. Mark Mazilli’s infield groundout sent Martin to third. Cleanup hitter Wes Brady doubled hard to left, scoring Martin easily. Brady then advanced to third on a passed ball, but was stranded there.
After three frames, the Wolverines playing sharp baseball, still led, 1-0, but one bad inning later, the Eagles held a 4-1 advantage. With the bases full in the visitors’ fourth, a batter sent a ball to the gap in left center. While Stott later observed that the ball was catchable, it fell in for a three-run double. That apparently shook up the Wolverines, who gave up one more run before nailing down the third out.
The Eagles aded another run in the fifth, to go ahead 5-1, but they weren’t finished. In the top of the sixth, a double to left fieldoff Polk’s third pitcher, J.D. Edwards, scored an Eagle runner from third. East Henderson got runners on first and second, on a loping single to right. The runner at second, thinking the ball might be caught, held the base. A double steal, followed by a two-run double to left center, made it 8-1, with the batter taking third on the throw. A bloop single down the right field line made it 9-1, and a balk sent that runner to second, giving Polk a chance to exhibit some slick fielding and quick thinking.
Wes Brady moved from third to short, snared a hard liner, and threw quickly to second, doubling up the Eagle runner and ending the inning.
In the home sixth, Polk made solid contact, but had nothing to show for it. Leading off, Martin faked bunt, then smashed a liner right to the shortstop, who caught it for out number one. Daniel Painter struck a hard bouncer, right back to the pitcher, who tossed him out. Mark Mazilli lined a single to right. Brady followed with what could have been a routine bouncer to third, but a bad throw to second gave the Wolverines runners at first and second. However, Morgan Groves popped out behind second base, to end the inning.
Tyler Campbell, Polk’s fourth pitcher of the evening, took over in the top of the seventh. East Henderson scored its final run of the night. Campbell accidentally plunked the leadoff batter, who moved to second on a passed ball. The next batter grounded out to short, with no advance by the runner. However, he ran to third on a passed ball, got caught in a rundown between home and third, and scored, making it 10-1.
Whatever loss of confidence Polk suffered after the Eagles’ four-run fourth, they got back in the home seventh.
Leadoff batter Gary walked. Campbell walked, putting runners at first and second. Mazilli popped out, bringing up Trevor Arrowood. Gary and Campbell pulled off a double steal, before Arrowood’s line single to center scored Gary, making it 10-2.
Jesse Bradley lined a single to left, scoring Campbell. Painter then ripped a liner to center for the second out. Mazilli’s grounder to third resulted ina dropped throw, loading the bases. Brady then walked to force in Polk’s fourth run, but that ended the scoring at 10-4.
Stott, re-visiting the top of the fourth, said “it wasn’t a bad pitch” that found its way between the fielders for that three-run double.
“We actually played a really intense game of baseball for four innings,” he said. “That double deflated us.” Stott also felt that both Painter, and Edwards, who followed on the mound, lost their concentration over some ball-strike calls that didn’t go Polk’s way.
“We’ve got to play better than we did,” said Stott said. “We just haven’t put it together for seven innings.”
Still on a quest for a more complete pitching staff, Stott might try both Wes Brady and Morgan Groves on the mound, though both are fine infielders, as well, with Brady skilled at third base and short, and Groves a solid fielder at first.
For non-conference games, such as Monday’s, Stott pointed out the real need for good second and third pitchers.
Stott knows that his offense, though not a powerhouse, is capable of scoring lots of runs, as long as batters make the opposing pitchers work.
“I think we’ll be scrappy,” Stott figures. “We’ll definitely try to play small ball.”
Polk notched its first win of the season last Wednesday, at Asheville Christian Academy, with Painter the winning pitcher in the 7-3 victory.
After Polk’s game against Erwin, the Wolverines visit Madison today March 21, and host Mountain Heritage on Tuesday, March 18. They’re at Chase on March 20, and host Mitchell on March 21st.