Freebies cost Diamond Spyders vs South Bend

PLYMOUTH — Post 27 battled back from an early deficit, but pitching woes cost the club late, and the Diamond Spyders succumbed to visiting South Bend Post 50, 8-5 at Bill Nixon Field Thursday.
Plymouth’s pitching staff surrendered a combined nine walks and a total of five hit batters, including four for three runs by the visitors during the decisive sixth and seventh innings.
“When you’re giving them (14) free bases and eight hits, that’s (22) opportunities on the bases, you’re not going to win many ball games against anybody doing that,” said Post 27 manager Will Hostrawser. “We struggled on the mound with our command, and that came back to burn us. They got some timely hits and that was the difference in the ball game.”
D.J. Workman drew a leadoff walk from Post 27 reliever Wally Dickman in the top of the sixth, and Pat Klima and Jordan Sailors coaxed back-to-back two-out walks to load the bases. Workman scored the go-ahead and Klima and Sailors advanced on a wild pitch, and Joe Stukenborg drove Klima in with a flare to shallow center to put South Bend up 7-5. After Plymouth left a pair of runners on in the bottom of the inning, Brock Anson hit three batters and walked another, and, after Evan Witsken was caught trying to steal second, Clayton Adamson hit another to score the game’s final run.
South Bend got on the board early with a run in the top of the first as Sailors singled to right, Stukenborg drew a walk, and Alex Skipper loaded the bases with a line single into left, setting the stage for Witsken’s sacrifice fly to right that scored Sailors.
Post 50 plated another three runs in the third when Spencer Harrison and Klima drew back-to-back walks, and Sailors and Stukenborg cranked out consecutive RBI doubles, the latter a two-run rocket to the centerfield fence that put Plymouth in the hole, 5-nil.
But the Diamond Spyders responded with three runs in the bottom of the fourth as Eric Knepper lined a leadoff single into right, stole second and advanced to third as Trenton Briles reached second on a routine grounder and throwing error from South Bend second baseman Sailors, setting the table for Sean Liedtky’s two-run sac fly out to center. Brock Anson coaxed a two-out walk from Zach Nemeth and stole second, and Sean Knepper drove him home with a standup double into deep center to cut South Bend’s lead to 5-3.
Post 27 stayed hot in the bottom of the fifth as Brody Andrews doubled to the centerfield fence with one out, and Eric Knepper went yard on a 1-2 offering from closer Connor Sweeny to knot the score at 5-all. Briles and Nick Latham drew back-to-back one-out walks, and when Liedtky’s fly to center was dropped, Latham was caught in no-man’s land heading to second. Anson was hit by a pitch to put runners at the corners with two out, but both Briles and Latham were left on when Sean Knepper fanned for the inning’s final out.
The Diamond Spyders left runners stranded at the corners again in the sixth and went down in order in the seventh to fall to 9-6 on the season.
“The last kid that came in for them had a nice breaking pitch, and we didn’t adjust,” said Hostrawser. “He showed the same thing, he led every hitter off with the same pitch, and we stood there and watched it. When you don’t learn as the game progresses, you’re taking away some of your opportunities to get a hit and learn in the on deck circle. They’re a good ball club, I don’t want to take anything away from them, but we didn’t do anything to earn anything tonight, especially our pitching.”
The good news for Plymouth is it’ll have at least two more chances against South Bend in the first round of the Patriot Tournament July 5 and at Coveleski Stadium July 12. The two teams could potentially meet up again as sectionals commence July 20.
“It’s a nice rivalry,” said Hostrawser. “Their third base coach and our third base coach Will Shepherd, they both played together on a national championship team from Post 50 back in ‘77 so it’s kind of neat for that. They’ve done a nice job with this team and making them competitive.”
Plymouth is back in action at home again Saturday as the Diamond Spyders play host to Mishawaka Post 161 at 1 p.m.
At Plymouth
South Bend: 104 002 1 — 8 8 2
Plymouth: 000 320 0 — 5 6 0
Connor Brown, Zach Nemeth (3), Jordan Gates (5), Connor Sweeny (W, 5); Michael Holderread, Wally Dickman (3, L), Brock Anson (7), Clayton Adamson (7).
2B: Sean Knepper (P), Joe Stukenburg (SB), Jordan Sailors (SB)
HR: Eric Knepper (P)
Record: Plymouth 9-6