Springfield's errors costly at Pipe Yard
By Dan Gilles
Things seemed to be aligned for the Springfield High School baseball team in a positive way in Thursday’s Division IV regional semifinal game at The Pipe Yard.
Garfield Heights Trinity starting pitcher Jake Visha had to leave the game in the top of the third inning because of a finger injury suffered during a bunt attempt. That forced the Trojans (21-3) to go with reliever Clay Anderson, fresh from right field and cold.
However, Anderson didn’t allow a run until there were two outs in the top of the seventh inning, throwing 41⁄3 innings of solid relief in a 3-1 victory.
Three errors in the fourth by the Tigers (19-5) led to two Trinity runs.
“We preach all year to play your game and don’t beat yourself,” Tigers head coach Terry Dobson said. “Everybody saw what happened. I thought Brandon Walters pitched as good a game as he can pitch. They hit the ball, but we didn’t make the plays when we were supposed to make the plays.”
The fourth inning began when shortstop Drew Clark booted a grounder hit by Trinity’s John Oleksik. After Oleksik was bunted to second, left fielder Chris Thompson misplayed a fly ball in the wind by Visha and dropped it for the second error. Oleksik raced home to break the scoreless tie.
Visha, who made it to second, advanced to third on a comebacker to the mound. He scored when first baseman Shane Eynon bobbled a grounder from No. 9 hitter Michael Clancy.
“Other than a couple of games here and there, if you take the year in total, defense was one of our strong points,” Dobson said. “It just didn’t come to fruition today.”
Trinity tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth off Walters, who was only charged with one earned run and scattered seven hits, one walk and one strikeout in six innings.
Ryan Foss’ two-out double was the lone RBI for the Trojans, plating Zach Mammana to make it a 3-0 game.
Springfield had its chances against Anderson, but couldn’t deliver the big hit. It had two on with two out in both the third and fourth innings — with both runners in scoring position in the fourth — but failed to score, and had a runner on third with two outs in the fifth but couldn’t bring him home.
In the sixth, John Ritter had a one-out single, but his pinch-runner was picked off of first. That loomed large when Eynon drew a walk after several wild pitches, but, once again, Anderson pitched out of the jam.
With two outs and a runner on third in the seventh, Jarrett Orbin hustled and beat out a grounder to short for an RBI infield single. He took second when Trinity shortstop Mammana committed an error. Both he and Walters stole third and second, respectively, to put the tying runs in scoring position for the cleanup hitter, Thompson, who was thrown out by a whisker on a grounder to third baseman Clancy to end the game.
“They finally started doing the things we told them to do at the start of the game,” Dobson said. “They just waited too long.
“We had scouting reports on Trinity,” Dobson said. “We knew exactly what they were. They were nothing more than what we told, what we had and what we practiced, and we did not do what we were supposed to do.
“We were in a new league and we won it. We’re losing three seniors so we’ve got a decent nucleus coming back. Hopefully, those guys coming back see what it takes. You just don’t start at the beginning of a season expecting to be good. They’ve got to learn to get a little mentally tougher.”