PLYMOUTH — In baseball, it often comes down to who will flinch at the final challenge, and on Wednesday at least it was Plymouth’s Pilgrims (0-1) who flinched at the end, falling to South Bend St. Joe by an 8-3 final.
Only those in attendance would know it was tied at three headed to the final six outs.
“We are going to be in battles,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Wolfe. “You aren’t going to beat teams by four or five runs, especially in our conference. We have to finish games. Two outs with a guy on third we have to bear down and get that guy out. With maturity that will come, we did that early on. It’s about finishing, and we’ll do that we’ll get there.”
The Pilgrims were there with a chance to win at the end, tied at 3 with a runner on third and two outs, and Brad Hartman’s hit for the Indians off Levi Shuler in relief of Riley Cartwright would prove to be the game-winner.
Shuler got free of a bases-loaded jam in relief of Cartwright in the sixth inning, but couldn’t stem the tide in the seventh, giving up five runs on four hits to take the loss. Two Plymouth errors in the inning contributed to the five St. Joe (1-0) runs along with Wes Short’s two-run double.
“In games like this you get the big hit you win,” said Wolfe. “Tonight they got that big hit. Tonight they scored the crooked number. Another night we score the crooked number, and we win the game. Little things obviously made a big difference. We were there and we want to get that W, but hopefully we come back tomorrow and we get that W.”
Plymouth starter Riley Cartwright struggled early but found himself as he went on.
“The key to any pitcher is you can do a lot of things when you get ahead in the count,” said Wolfe. “We try to pitch backward in the count. Riley really settled down. He throws a nice fastball has a decent curvebal,l but we have to be able to use it and getting ahead is the key there.”
Cartwright went five innings giving up three runs on four hits, walking three and striking out four. St. Joe’s Oliver Page got the win in relief of starter Tyler Beck. Brad Hartman gets the save for St. Joe.
Wolfe was far from discouraged in a game that saw his young team take St. Joe to their final at-bat.
“Take away that last inning we knew that playing them first — to win — we’d have to play pretty good baseball,” said Wolfe. “We were one base hit away from taking a three or four run lead and hanging on there. We’re going to have to finish and we’ll do that. That’s what you have to do to win.”
• SOUTH BEND ST. JOSEPH 8,
St. Joe: 200 010 5 — 8 5 3
Plymouth: 120 000 0 — 3 2 3
Tyler Beck, Oliver Page (W), Brad Hartman (S) and Neal Dowling. Riley Cartwright, Levi Schuler (L) and Elijah Nixon.
2B: Neal Dowling (SJ), Wes Short (SJ).