A young baseball team is bound to experience some growing pains and for Coach Kyle Brewer and his Manchester Greyhounds, those pains have manifested themselves in many forms this spring. On Monday afternoon on the green grass at Whiteoak, it showed itself in the form of a walk-off suicide squeeze defeat as the host Wildcats edged past the Hounds 3-2 in a well-played and well-pitched game from both sides.
Hardcore baseball fans would have been quite impressed with this battle, a classic pitcher’s duel between Manchester’s Sean Frost and Whiteoak’s Nick Wardlow. Both hurlers were on top of their games with the contest being scoreless through five complete innings.
The Greyhounds threatened in their very first at-bat, getting singles from Hunter Conley and Mason Applegate but could not get either of them home. Whiteoak also managed a pair of base runners in the bottom of the first but with the same result.
So it went as both pitchers settled down after those initial scares and fired zeroes through five innings. The first runs of the game came in the Whiteoak bottom of the sixth.An error, a base hit, and a sacrifice bunt combined to push two Wildcat runners across and give the home side a 2-0 advantage.
That lead evaporated quickly when the Greyhounds came to the plate in the top of the seventh. With one out, Frost reached on an infield hit, stole second, and came around to score when Conley reached on an error. Applegate singled to center, moving Conley to third. Tyler Brummett then grounded one back to the mound that was fielded cleanly by Wardlow. The Whiteoak pitcher looked the runner back and threw to first but Conley still broke for home and made it in safely with the tying run.
With the game all even now, the Cats came to bat in the bottom of the seventh with Frost still on the hill for Manchester. Lead off batter Justin Emery lifted a fly ball along the left field line that was dropped by Colton Thornburg, prompting Coach Brewer to go to the mound and pull Frost in favor of the freshman Conley. A passed ball sent Emery to second and he moved to third when Spencer Michael grounded out to third baseman Cole Hensley.
That brought the pitcher Wardlow strolling to the plate and Whiteoak Coach Chris Veidt gambled and called for the suicide squeeze. The gamble paid off as Wardlow got down a perfect bunt that brought Emery across the plate with the winning run in a 3-2 walk-off Wildcat victory.
Though he likely deserved a better fate, Frost took the loss, going six plus innings, allowing just four hits and not a single earned run. The Manchester righty struck out 9 in one of his best performances of 2014. Wardlow was the winner for Whiteoak, pitching the seven inning complete game, giving up 9 hits and like his counterpart across the field, not one earned run.
Mason Applegate had the bat in tune for the Hounds, pounding out three hits with freshman outfielder Bryan Young adding a pair.
As the games begin to pile up due to the early season weather problems, the Greyhounds came right back yesterday with a trip to Lynchburg and today will be on the road again in North Adams. Tomorrow it is another home game, this time with the Fairfield Lions.
Mark Carpenter can be reached at 937-544-2391 or on Twitter @adamscosports.
000 000 2 —2
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Manchester Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Frost 4-1-1-0, Conley 3-1-1-0, Applegate 4-0-3-0, Brummett 4-0-1-1, Hensley 4-0-0-0, Young 3-0-2-0, DeAtley 2-0-1-0, Thornburg 3-0-0-0, Francis 2-0-0-0, Team 29-2-9-1.
Extra-Base Hits: Young 2B
Whiteoak Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Emery 4-1-0-0, Michael 3-0-0-0, Wardlow 2-0-0-1, Williams 2-0-1-0, Jones 3-1-1-0, Marler 2-1-1-0, Meyers 1-0-0-1, Adams 3-0-1-0, Burns 3-0-0-0. Team 23-3-4-2.
Manchester Pitching: Frost (L) 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 4 BB. 9 K, 116 pitches.
Conley 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 4 pitches.
Whiteoak Pitching: Waedlow (W): 7 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 98 pitches.