Proctor had a depleted roster, missing three of their seniors, but they stuck with the Wildcats, while each team struggled for control of the game. Proctor began the game with a run in the bottom of the first inning, while Justin Hicks and Sam Molner brought home two runs for Twin Valley in the top of the second. Molner led the Wildcats from the batter’s box, crushing three hits in four plate appearances.
The Phantoms would capture the upper hand in the bottom of the fourth. With the game tied 2-2, Wildcat pitcher Dal Nesbitt found himself in a hole after the fifth inning as Proctor added three runs for a 5-2 lead. But the Wildcats rallied to tie the game in the top of the sixth with runs by outfielder Ethan Fox and infielder Cade Nesbitt, each of whom also had an RBI in the game.
The seventh inning became the decisive frame, as Nesbitt shut down Proctor’s bats in the sixth. But the Wildcats couldn’t answer, and couldn’t provide their pitcher with a lead to work with. Nesbitt struck out the first batter, but gave up two subsequent singles and a walk for a bases-loaded, two-out scenario. Twin Valley manager Jim Burke pulled Nesbitt and put in Kyle Murdock to try to finish the game. Murdock struck out the first batter he faced, but found himself in a 3-0 pitch count hole on the next batter. Murdock threw a strike, and was looking for two more, but the umpire called a fourth ball on his next delivery and Proctor trotted in the game winner.
“That’s on me,” said Burke. “It could have ended one of two ways and we threw the dice. It was a gamble. Throwing the dice also means shaking it up. I should have switched my pitchers at the bottom of the seventh, not with the bases loaded.”
Codie Landon got the win for the Phantoms, throwing all seven innings. Curtis Tomlinson and Kyle Miles combined for three of Proctor’s runs to lead the scoring. Twin Valley had nine hits and three walks, and only struck out three times, a promising accomplishment after tallying 18 strikeouts over the last two outings.
“We’ve lost two, but in all of these games we’ve battled to the end,” said Burke. “Nobody puts their heads down on this team, they keep playing.”
Springfield 4 TV 3
WILMINGTON- In their first home game of the season, the Wildcats looked solidly in command of a 3-0 ballgame entering the fifth inning. But the visiting Springfield Cosmos took advantage of multiple Wildcat errors to close the gap, send the game to extra innings, and wrestle the win out of Twin Valley’s hands.
Sam Molner, Twin Valley’s only pitcher with a win under his belt, went all eight innings for the Wildcats, throwing heat on a windy, cold afternoon. Through the first four innings, Molner allowed only one hit and collected four strikeouts, while his defense scooped up seven groundouts. Dal Nesbitt got the Wildcats on the board, running home as the Cosmos catcher tried to throw out brother Cade Nesbitt at second. In the third, Twin Valley tacked on two more as Colin Lozito smacked a single and stole all three bases in front of him, including home, after Cameron Blais turned his back to return to the mound. In the third, Molner helped his bid with a double to bring home Cade Nesbitt, and a 3-0 lead.
But the Wildcats stalled in the fifth, as a throwing error to first, followed by a dropped line drive by shortstop Dal Nesbitt left Springfield with two men on with no outs. After two wild pitches and a run driven in by the Cosmos, the Wildcats were left with an uneasy 3-2 lead. In the fifth, Zach Tubbs drove in a run for the Cosmos, while Twin Valley was unable to respond, stranding two, after an interference call on Baylee Crawford and a popout by Dylan Johnson ended the inning.
The Wildcats once again stranded a runner in the seventh as Dal Nesbitt was left hanging at third. Molner kept the game within the Wildcats’ grasp over the seventh and eighth innings, but the Cosmos would score on another infield error by Dal Nesbitt. Twin Valley was unable to regain a tie or take the lead in extra innings, and suffered their third loss of the season.
“All of our losses have been close,” said manager Jim Burke. “We need to focus. Losing is infectious and we’re getting infected, but winning is contagious and its been right there. We need to focus from the first pitch to the last one for a complete seven innings.”
The Wildcats have improved their batting recently, recording another nine-hit game in 35 at bats, while striking out only three times.
Tubbs led the Cosmos with a 3-4 effort, scoring two runs, including the game winner. Dal Nesbitt went 2-4 with four stolen bases and a run scored. Molner finished with six strikeouts and no walks, but had five errors committed behind him in taking the loss.
The Wildcats play today at 4:30 at Leland & Gray.