MIER – Most times, Oak Hill baseball coach Shane Edwards can look at a one-run loss and point to many reasons.
Yet, the Golden Eagles’ 3-2 setback Tuesday afternoon against visiting Taylor had just one culprit – baserunning.
The Eagles ran themselves out of promising scoring opportunities three times, and later scored just one run after loading the bases with none out in the seventh.
“Absolutely, our baserunning was atrocious today and we ran ourselves out of this game,” Edwards said. “We can’t run into outs like we did today, that’s not good.
“That falls solely on me as the coach that we’re doing those things and we can’t put ourselves in those situations,” he added.
Oak Hill dropped to 6-4 and Taylor moved to 3-6 with its third straight victory. Titans pitcher Noah Poe pitched a complete game and struck out 10 batters, getting a called third strike on his 120th and final pitch of the game.
It would have been an interesting dilemma for Titans coach Brent Owens if Oak Hill hitter Brody Hardcastle had reached base. A new IHSAA rule in affect for this season sets a 120-pitch limit on pitchers per game.
“If (Oak Hill) would have got on I would have had to bring in a new pitcher,” Owens said. “That’s something as coaches we have to get used to the pitch count rule. All of a sudden, you put a kid in a clutch situation who hadn’t been pitching and that can change a game”
Poe was 10-3 last year and has more than 20 career victories over four seasons. While the senior defeated the Eagles for the second straight year, he wiggled out of trouble on three occasions thanks to Oak Hill baserunning gaffes.
In the third, Owen Perkins led off with a single and Spencer Ballinger followed with a flyball that dropped in front of the centerfielder. But Perkins was caught flat-footed halfway between first and second bases waiting to see if the ball would drop and was thrown out at second base.
Back-to-back Taylor errors in the fourth had Oak Hill runners on first and second, but Landry Ozmun was thrown out at third base attempting to advance on a pitch in the dirt. On the next pitch, Wes Transier was caught in a rundown after Taylor catcher Peyton Tracy’s pickoff throw to first base.
Oak Hill finally scored a two-out run in the fourth when Ballinger singled and came around on another single from Nate Alston. But the inning ended when Alston over-ran second base and was tagged out scrambling back to the bag.
“Our baserunning before today had been outstanding and for some reason it showed itself (against Taylor) and it killed us,” Edwards said. “In a 3-2 ballgame you can talk about a lot of things that were not good, but certainly baserunning was what killed us.”
Alston was Oak Hill’s starting pitcher and gave up two earned runs, walked two and struck out two over a five-inning stint. Taylor opened the game with two infield hits, but the Eagles turned a double play and prevented the Titans from scoring.
Taylor scored single runs in the second, third and fourth innings for a 3-0 lead. One run scored on a double-steal in the second and another on a bases-loaded walk in the third.
Oak Hill had a great opportunity in the sixth when Hardcastle and Bradon Nelson greeted Poe with solid singles and Cal Mann walked to load the bases. Perkins and Ballinger were next up and two of Oak Hill’s most feared hitters, but they each popped up and the bases remained loaded. Alston followed with a soft single, scoring Hardcastle, but the inning ended with another popup.
“We got Owen and Spencer up there in a situation to at least get us a flyball and we didn’t get anything,” Edwards said. “That inning was about getting a key out with a guy on base, and before that it was about baserunning.”
Reliever Jaren Emery entered in the sixth and wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth when the Eagles turned their second double play of the game. Emery went on to pitch two scoreless innings.
Alston was 2-for-3 and drove in both Oak Hill runs.
“It was a tough loss,” Alston said. “(The double play) was a real help, and the defense got me out of a lot of tough spots. My curve ball really was good today and it really helped me because I had trouble locating the fastball.”
Oak Hill begins Central Indiana Conference play at 5 p.m. Thursday at Elwood.
“I feel like we could have won this game 5-3, and it was a 3-2 ballgame featuring two quality 2A programs,” Edwards said. “It was a good look for us to prepare us for the conference, but we’ve got some baserunning work to do (today).”