Plymouth takes second at home baseball tourney
PLYMOUTH — It was a case of Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde for the Plymouth Pilgrim baseball team in its own invitational tournament on Saturday.
The Pilgrims played well in a 7-5 victory in the first game of the day versus the Penn Kingsmen but after a long lay-off between games they seemed to lose focus and lost in the championship game to Crown Point 14-2.
PLYMOUTH 7, PENN 5
Joe Dragani made the best of his second varsity start on the mound Saturday against Penn.
The freshman right-hander went the distance in the victory, scattering seven hits and striking out one Kingsmen hitter. He gave up five runs in the game but only three were earned due to four Pilgrim errors in the game.
“Joe threw a great game,” Plymouth head coach Tony Plothow said of his young hurler. “He came in and threw strikes and gave us a chance to win it. That is all the coaching staff asked of him, and he was able to do it today.”
Penn started the scoring with one run in the third inning. Steve Smallwood drew a walk to lead off the inning. He stole second base and scored on a throwing error by Plymouth second baseman Trent Briles.
The Pilgrims answered back in the bottom of the inning. Chase Peters reached on a throwing error by the Kingsmen catcher and scored two batters later on an Ike Kastner home run that banged off the scoreboard in left field.
Penn plated another run in the fourth to knot the game at two. With two outs, Kyle Richard singled to left and scored moments later on a double by Chad Whitmer that rocketed over the head of Peters in center field.
Plymouth continued to give Dragani some run support in the fourth.
Briles led the inning off with a walk, moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt and advanced to third after a throwing error by the Penn pitcher, allowing Skirvin to reach safely. Blake Milliser executed a perfect safety squeeze to score Briles and advance Skirvin to second base. Joe Knapp followed that up with yet another sacrifice bunt and error on the throw that allowed Skirvin and Milliser to score to put the Pilgrims up 5-2.
Penn got into the scoring column once again in the sixth.
A leadoff walk to pinch hitter Cole Deneen, a single up the middle by Collin Trowbridge, and a hit batsman by Dragani loaded the bases for the Kingsmen. Whitmer came through with his second double of the game to plate Deneen and Trowbridge, and Richard came home on a throwing error by Pilgrim left fielder Kastner to tie the game up at five.
Plymouth had another answer in the bottom half of the inning. Knapp walked with one out in the inning and Connor Flynn singled to right field to move Knapp into scoring position. Peters brought Knapp home with a dribbler to the right side of the infield and miscommunication by the Penn pitcher and first baseman allowed him to reach safely at first base. Jacob Seagraves came through with a single to center to score the final Pilgrim run.
Plothow was happy with his team’s offensive production.
“Ike started us off with the home run, and I think it gave some of the other guys confidence at the plate,” He said. “We executed well today. We had three good bunts in a row by Skirvin, Milliser and Knapp, and Penn had some trouble fielding them. Those are the little things that helped us win the game today.”
• PLYMOUTH 7 PENN 5
Penn: 001 103 0 – 5
Plymouth: 002 302 x – 7
Joe Dragani (W) and Jacob Seagraves; Dalton Teitsma, Chris Como (4, L) and Jordan Gosztola, Cole Deneen (5)
2B: Chase Peters (Pl), Chad Whitmer (2, Pe)
Records: Plymouth 9-7, Penn 12-5
CROWN POINT 14, PLYMOUTH 2
The championship game didn’t go as well for Plymouth.
A trio of Pilgrim pitchers allowed 14 runs on 10 hits while walking 10 and hitting four Crown Point batters in the contest.
Plymouth did break out to an early one run lead.
Joe Knapp led the game off with a ground ball that was misplayed by the Bulldog shortstop. Connor Flynn laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Knapp to second base, and two wild pitches by Crown Points’ Marcus Kessler allowed Knapp to cross the plate.
That was all the offense that Kessler would allow through six innings on the mound, however. He allowed only two Plymouth hits — both to Chase Peters — and struck out three in the winning effort.
Plymouth did get one more run on the board in the seventh off of relief pitcher Mike Sullivan.
Trent Briles walked with one out in the inning. He advanced to scoring position on a line drive to right by Matt Flynn and scored on another single to right by Knapp.
The Crown Point bats came alive against the youthful pitching of the Pilgrims.
Sophomore Jacob Frantz got the start on the mound and had the Bulldogs off balance through the first couple innings, but Crown Point was able to adjust in the third against the young lefty.
Leadoff hitter Zach Plesac started offensive production for the Bulldogs. He doubled to left center field and later stole third base. After a walk to Brett Bayer, Jake Lindeman singled down the line to left and scored Plesac. Joe Hopman walked in the next at-bat, and Adam Kutemeier singled in Bayer for the second run.
Plymouth brought in freshman Cody Gamble for his first-ever varsity appearance to try to silence the Crown Point bats and get the Pilgrims out of a jam. Gamble hit the first batter he faced and walked the next to force two more runs across the plate. Jake Carey singled to drive home Kutemeier and put the Bulldogs up 5-1. Pilgrim third baseman Knapp made a diving stop on a sharply hit ground ball by Chris Deitrich and cut the runner down at the plate for the second out of the inning. Plesac came up for the second time in the inning and launched a line drive over the wall in left center field for a grand slam to put his team up eight.
The Bulldogs picked up one more run off of Gamble in the fourth on a leadoff home run by clean-up hitter Joe Hopman.
Junior Myles Scott took the mound for the Pilgrims in the fifth and was able to stop the Crown Point offense for a couple innings, but they would get to him in the top of the seventh for four more runs.
A walk to Carey and a fielder’s choice put runners at first and second with one out. Aaron Orosz singled up the middle to plate Carey and Jake Ryan scored on a single to right by Lindeman. A walk and a hit batsman forced Orosz across the plate, and Lindeman scored on a wild pitch to end the scoring for the Bulldogs.
Plymouth placed three members — Chase Peters, Joe Dragani and Jacob Seagraves — on the all-tournament team with its second-place finish. Peters was excellent for the Pilgrims at the plate, going 4-for-6 on the day with a double, a run scored and an RBI.
Plymouth returns to action tonight with a Northern Lakes Conference game at Warsaw. The Tigers will then turn around and play at Plymouth in a make-up game from last week.
• CROWN POINT 14,
Crown Point: 009 100 4 — 14 10 1
Plymouth: 100 000 1 — 2 4 1
Jacob Frantz (L), Cody Gamble (3), Myles Scott (5) and Jacob Seagraves, Elijah Nixon (4); Marcus Kessler (W), Mike Sullivan and Jake Carey
2B: Zach Plesac (CP), Jake Jenks (CP)
HR: Plesac, Joe Hopman (CP)
Records: Plymouth 9-8, Crown Point 16-4