SOUTH BEND — Add a non-conference Saturday after a long week of baseball to the venue of Coveleski Stadium and opponent South Bend Clay (11-6) and you have a roller coaster ride of a morning that ended with Plymouth falling to Clay by a 12-6 final.
“We didn’t take any steps back today,” said Plymouth coach Ryan Wolfe. “We’re right where we want to be and moving forward, and It was just one of those days where the wheels fell off. They fell off, and we couldn’t get back on the wagon.”
Both teams fought through an uneventful start with Plymouth starter Brayden Davidson and Clay starter Joe Stukenborg fighting off threats and Clay taking advantage of two second-inning Plymouth errors to take a 1-0 lead.
Then the Pilgrims came alive in an event-filled third inning.
Plymouth erupted for four runs on an RBI single by Justin Drudge and a two-RBI double by Blake Milliser that also resulted in the ejection of catcher Elijah Nixon in the course of sliding home with the first run.
Before inning’s end, Plymouth and Clay players would be separated after hit batsmen, physical plays at the plate and several players in an opposing dugout. When the dust settled the Pilgrims would have a 4-1 lead.
“We have some fight in us; that’s good, said Plymouth head coach Ryan Wolfe. “In a game like that you have to learn to control your emotions a little bit.”
Plymouth kept pace with the Colonials through five, but with a 6-6 tie Clay was able to pull away.
Plymouth reliever Levi Schuler took over for Davidson and surrendered a pair of runs in the fifth and Riley Cartwright took over for him and gave up four more of his own in a six-run inning that was the story of the final.
“We played well through five innings and sort of fell apart there,” said Wolfe. “We gave them some free bases. When you give them free bases nothing good happens. I thought we kind of let down a little bit at the end — body language and some things — we were flying high, we roped (Clay relief pitcher Tim Strychulski) that one inning and then the next couple times we weren’t on him.”
Drudge and Milliser had multiple hit games — Drudge included a triple and an RBI, Milliser with a pair of doubles and RBIs. Cartwright had a pair of hits.
Plymouth (10-12) gets back to NLC action on Monday at NorthWood.
• SOUTH BEND CLAY 12, PLYMOUTH 6
At Coveleski Stadium
Plymouth: 004 200 0 — 6 11 5
S.B. Clay: 012 360 x — 12 10 3
Brayden Davidson, Levi Schuler (5, L), Riley Cartwright, and Elijah Nixon, Jarrod Ellis (4); Joe Stukenborg, Tim Strychulski (W), and Eric Kelver, Joey Lange (5).
2B: Blake Milliser 2 (P), Aaron Bond (C).
3B: Justin Drudge (P).