Pilgrims survive roller coaster ride with CMA

PLYMOUTH — An apt title for the book about this year’s Plymouth Pilgrim baseball season would be “The Agony and the Ecstasy”.
There was a heavy dose of both at Bill Nixon Field on Tuesday night, but in the end Plymouth would have a little more of the ecstasy. A walk-off single by Plymouth shortstop Justin Drudge plated the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the seventh over CMA (9-6) for a final of 11-10.
It didn’t appear there would be a need for heroics by Drudge or anyone else as Eagle starter Zach Moffet struggled to get ahead of hitters early, and the Pilgrims were able to put up an 8-0 lead on the strength of two-run homers by Bailey Clark in the first and Trent Briles in the third.
“We weren’t real sharp obviously in the first few innings,” said Eagles coach Kurt Christiansen. “It’s tough as a pitcher when you face a good hitting lineup to always be behind, but we also talk about always making the routine play defensively and we didn’t do that today. You have to be able to throw and catch the ball, and we didn’t do that.”
Some Eagle miscues didn’t help Moffet, but after a rocky first two hitters CMA reliever Drew Schroeder seemed to find a groove. After Briles’ two-run shot Plymouth mounted only one other threat on a Briles single scoring Blake Milliser in the fourth.
In the fifth the potent CMA bats found a groove, and the Eagles found a hero of their own as Colin Raver had a career day.
“I think he was trying to do something simple — hit the ball on a line, and that’s how good things happen,” said Christiansen. “Line drives turn into home runs when your timing is on it, and he did a good job at the plate timing it up for us.”
To say the least. Raver crushed a grand slam homer in the fourth inning and missed a second by inches as he hit the fence with a two-run double as part of a six RBI night.
“Sometimes the game is funny. We hit the ball hard the first couple of innings and it’s right at somebody, but I do think we had some better at-bats as the game went on,” said Christiansen. “We took some pitches, didn’t extend the zone and were able to string together some good at-bats.”
Meanwhile Plymouth pitchers struggled to find a way to shut the door and an 8-0 lead turned into a 10-9 deficit in the fifth inning.
“Give them (CMA) credit, they could have folded but they hung in there,” said Plymouth coach Ryan Wolfe. “We got away from what we’ve been doing well in the middle innings there which is not walking hitters and throwing strikes. I know it was an error, base on balls, base on balls to lead off one inning. When things like that happen one hit puts them back in the ball game.”
A shot in the arm was reliever Bailey Clark who came on to record the win with two scoreless innings of relief.
A single by George Stults, a walk by Elijah Nixon and a hit batter — Jacob Frantz — set up Drudge’s heroics.
“We got guys on base, took some pitches there and had some good at -bats and that’s what you have to do — get guys on base and put them in an uncomfortable position,” said Wolfe of his team’s final at-bat come back. “Bailey came in there and threw strikes and got outs when he needed to and gave us a chance to win.”
“Overall I feel we’ve grown up a lot. We’re minimizing some mistakes and doing some things mentally on the mound that are getting us over, especially at the plate. One through nine did a good job of hitting the baseball.”
Plymouth (11-13) hits the road for their final NLC game at Northridge today. CMA is at North Judson on Friday.
At Plymouth
CMA: 000 550 0 — 10 10 3
PLYMOUTH: 332 100 2 — 11 10 2
Zach Moffet, Drew Schroeder (3, L) and Cole Payne; Levi Schuler, Cody Gamble (4), Bailey Clark (6, W 2-0) and Elijah Nixon.
HR: Bailey Clark (P), Trent Briles (P), Colin Raver (C).
2B: Drudge (P), Raver (C).