No answers for Hixenbaugh, Leps
For the second day in a row the Belle Vernon Area baseball team dropped a section road game and for the second day in a row coach Daryl Hixenbaugh is searching for answers.
“This is a skilled bunch, but they haven't learned some of the little nuances in the game,” he said. “Stuff like communicating with each other. Keeping the ball up in the zone when we're pitching. Hitting with runners in scoring position. When to play at double play depth. We had three tailor-made double play balls today and only got one of them. I just don't know. Every game it seems to be something different. It's keeping me up at night sometimes.”
BVA (6-4, 2-4) was operating without their top two pitchers, Dylan Pietrantoni and Cody Menges, and South Park (7-4, 5-2) took advantage. The Eagles used five straight singles and scored on a throwing miscommunication between catcher Parker Lynn and his middle infielders to plate four runs in the first and chase Lep starter Joe Ruffolo after just one out.
“Parker absolutely made the right play there,” Hixenbaugh said. “We told them on a double steal with guys on first and second to throw behind the runner and he did. The guys in the field need to keep their heads in the game. It's little things like this that have killed us this year.”
The Leps did put on one the board in the first, after Menges tripled with two outs and Lynn drove him home on an error. They put two more on the board in the third with three consecutive singles by Niko Tasser, Menges and Lynn and an RBI ground out by Jordan Zilka.
The Leps would also score a run in the fifth when Zilka drove home Menges with a single, and again in the sixth when a Menges sacrifice fly to center drove home the courtesy runner for pitcher Dylan Stark, who led off the inning with a single.
But it wasn't enough to keep up with South Park, who after their four-run first scored one in the second, two in the third and two in the fourth off of relief pitcher Nolan Stulock and then four in the sixth off of Stark.
“Those guys who pitched today, they haven't had a lot of work this year,” Hixenbaugh said. “We've been banking a lot on Dylan and Cody, and with the crazy rescheduling we haven't had any time for side sessions either. The weather can make things difficult.”
Lynn went 2-4 with three RBI for the Leps, Menges went 2-2 with three runs scored and and RBI, Tasser went 2-4 with a run scored and Zilka went 1-4 with 2 RBI. BVA recorded nine hits on the day, but was unable to land the big inning.
“We put the bat on the ball well today, but we just weren't able to get the big hit,” Hixenbaugh sad. “But we saw a lot of guys do well today. Niko, I couldn't ask for any more from him. He was named our ‘Most Improved' from our winter program and has been just so consistent. Cody, it is a crime that he didn't play last year. He has so much upside for the next level. And Parker has been playing at this level for years.”
Anthony Winkler went four innings, giving up five hits and three runs for the win, and Brian Yoest pitched the final three innings, giving up four hits and two runs. Winkler also collected three hits and an RBI for the Eagles, while Yoest contributed two hits and two RBI and Dave Coursey had two hits and three RBI.
Donnie Tasser is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media..