Pilgrims edge Clay in eight

PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth baseball team has already seen its share of one- and two-run games this season. Add Saturday’s contest with South Bend Clay to that list.
Pinch hitter Justin Drudge came through with a big hit, and Hayden Skirvin drove him home with the game-winner as the Pilgrims came from behind to down the Colonials 5-4 in eight innings at home at Bill Nixon Field.
“We’ve only had two games that we really weren’t in it from the start — St. Joe and Crown Point,” said Plymouth head baseball coach Tony Plothow. “Every other game, in our losses, we had opportunities to not only tie it but win it. Today we executed, we got bunts down, we didn’t always get the big hit but in the seventh we did. And the eighth inning we did as well. I see some improvement in our program and with some kids starting to learn the game.”
Plymouth started the scoring in the first inning.
Chase Peters led off with a soft liner to left and moved to second base on a Joe Knapp sacrifice bunt. Connor Flynn moved him up a base with a single to right, and he scored when Jacob Seagraves hit a ground ball that bounced over the bag at third for a single. Ike Kastner stepped to the plate with one out and runners at first and second. He rocketed a liner up the middle, but it was snagged by the Clay pitcher, who twirled and tossed to second base to double off Flynn and end the Pilgrim threat in the first.
Clay had an answer in the top of the second, scoring three runs, all unearned, with the help of three Plymouth errors in the inning.
Joe Stuckenborg hit a ground ball that Hayden Skirvin had trouble handling at first base, and D.J. Workman followed that up with a soft liner up the middle to put runners at first and second with no outs. Eric Kelver laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up, but an errant throw from Plymouth starting pitcher Riley Cartwright allowed Kelver to advance safely to second base, Workman to third and scored Stuckenborg for the first Clay run. After a pop-out to short, Clay picked up its second run on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze by Zack Nemeth to score Workman. The third run came in the next at-bat as Nathan Wildes hit a grounder that was bobbled by Plymouth’s shortstop Flynn, allowing Kelver to cross the plate and put his team up 3-1.
Plymouth cut the lead to one with a run in the third.
Peters led off with his second single of the game and once again advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Knapp. Seagraves once again got a lucky bounce, this time from the lip of the infield, to bounce over the shortstop’s head for a base hit to score Peters.
Clay got back on the board in the fourth. Nemeth singled and stole second base. He scored on a single to left by leadoff hitter Justin Laureys to extend the lead back to two runs.
Plymouth kept chipping away at the lead by picking up a run in the fourth as well. Trenton Briles grounded to short and reached second on a throwing error by the Clay shortstop. He moved up to third on a single up the middle by Skirvin. Blake Milliser stepped to the plate and laid down a bunt to score Briles and cut the lead back to one run.
Clay had a chance to extend the lead in the top of the seventh but failed to score with runners at second and third with one out. Stuckenborg was picked off of third base by Plymouth catcher Seagraves after Kyle Suter struck out for a double play to end the Colonials’ scoring chance in the seventh.
That play proved to be costly for Clay as Plymouth was able to tie the game up in its half of the seventh.
Milliser led the inning off by being hit by a Tim Strylchalski pitch. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Peters and scored on a single to right by Knapp to tie the game and force extra innings.
The Pilgrims won it with another manufactured run in the eighth inning.
Drudge led the inning off with a line drive to right field. The Clay pitcher tried to throw Drudge out at first base but his throw was wild and allowed Drudge to move to second base. Another sacrifice bunt — the sixth of the game for the Pilgrims, this time by Briles — moved Drudge up to third base with one out. Skirvin stepped to the plate next and came through with a game-winning single to right to score Briles.
Riley Cartwright threw five quality innings for the Pilgrims in his first game back after getting hit in the cheek by a ball earlier in the week. He allowed one earned run on six hits while striking out two and hitting three Colonial hitters.
“We got a good start from Riley,” said Plothow. “He got really tired, and we had to take him out. He was around the plate and we finally made some plays for him after the first couple innings.”
With the win Plymouth evens its regular season record at 11 wins and 11 loses. This game marks the thirteenth game this season that the Pilgrims have either won or lost by two or fewer runs. Plymouth is 7-6 in those games on the season.
The Pilgrims return to action with a road game at NorthWood tonight. Plymouth returns home on Tuesday with an inter-sectional battle with the Culver Academy Eagles.
At Plymouth
SB Clay: 030 100 00 – 4 8 3
Plymouth: 101 100 11 – 5 10 3
Riley Cartwright, Myles Scott (6), Joe Dragani (W, 7) and Jacob Seagraves; Brad Anderson, Tim Strylchalski (L, 7) and Joey Lange
2B: DJ Workman (SBC)
Records: Plymouth 11-11