The Wildcats had to shake the rust off early, having only had one day of practice outside leading up to Tuesday’s opener. Craig Green got the start after Jason Moore was scratched due to soreness, and had a shaky day on the mound for Twin Valley, throwing 43 pitches in 1 2/3 innings, walking four, and hitting two. But Green would keep the game close, twice beating runners from third to home after his pitches got past catcher Chris Robinson, applying the tag for two important outs.
Olden Dwyer got the start for the Eagles, throwing 106 pitches in five innings, including five strikeouts. With neither team featuring power hitters, the game would see multiple ties and lead changes.
“Our offense did well enough,” said Twin Valley coach Jim Burke. “The bats are a little rusty but they all were watching the ball and some are not strong batters yet, but you want them all to connect and many did.” One of those connecting all day was centerfielder Sam Molner, the anchor in the outfield who went 3-4 with two runs batted in and a run. Jason Moore scored two runs for the Wildcats with a .500 batting percentage, and Dylan Johnson went 2-3 with an RBI and a run.
Kyle Murdock relieved Green and also had a shaky outing, throwing 27 pitches in the third inning. Arlington was able to land bloopers into the gaps, and take over the lead, but Murdock went on to throw only 34 stellar pitches in the next three innings, and the game was knotted at six going into the last frame.
Molner did it all in the last inning, scoring the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh, and coming in to pitch for the win. Burke and his staff had Molner limited to 25 pitches, and Molner used all of them, striking out three of five batters, two looking, including the last batter on his 25th pitch.
Dwyer helped his bid for Arlington going 2-3 with a walk, while Kyle Tamburro went 2-4. Twin Valley had 13 on base, and scored seven runs, achieving a victory that Burke called important. “A win is a win. It wasn’t an ugly win, it was a well played win, but we need to work harder to be that team that says this is our year.”
Burke pointed out that along with Molner’s work in the outfield was the stellar defense of senior Hunter Therrien, who hasn’t played baseball in two years. Therrien provided a big double play at shortstop late in the match, tagging out a runner on a groundball and whipping the ball to Moore at first.
MSJ 9, TV 3
RUTLAND- Twin Valley took the long bus ride back from Mount St. Joseph Academy with a loss Wednesday night, as the Wildcats were unable to overcome their early mistakes.
Jason Moore started the match for the Wildcats and was roughed up early, striking out his first batter, but walking the next three, and hitting another with a pitch. Twin Valley’s coaching staff decided to pull Moore and put in Sam Molner, and at first, Molner fared no better, walking one and giving up a triple. But Molner was able to even out by the second inning, and follow up with four scoreless innings, forcing pop flys, and getting a few K’s in the process.
But the Wildcats’ bats would provide no relief until the fourth inning when Molner scored Twin Valley’s first run. Fourteen of the 30 Wildcat batters would strike out on the day, and according to coach Jim Burke it was due to a lack of aggressive play. “We’re still rusty, and don’t have the concept in our head that we have to at least foul the ball off. You can’t go down looking, and we take too many strikes before swinging. Some of these guys don’t know how to just foul it. That’s just hanging tough, and it’s not hanging tough when you watch two strikes and swing at the third.”
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Twin Valley began to claw back. Craig Green and Chris Robinson scored runs on passed balls and the game was suddenly within reach. But the wheels fell off in the sixth when Kyle Murdock got on base but was stranded.
Molner and his coaching staff believed he had one more inning in him, but after initial success, the Green Wave bats got going again, and Twin Valley gave up four runs for an insurmountable 9-3 deficit.
Twin Valley wouldn’t finish the game with a multi-hit batter, as Matt Sanborn threw 93 pitches in five innings and only allowed six hits. Burke said his squad also needs to realize that rushing causes fielding errors, and securing the ball comes before looking where to throw it next. “A little doubt isn’t the end of the world, but we have to learn not to rush and to trust your instincts. We can cure the mechanical fielding errors, but the batting needs to just be smarter.” While Twin Valley’s coaching staff is impressed with the play of its team, they will have even more to work with on May 2, when three of the team’s starters rejoin the team, coming back from a trip to Spain. “We have some aggressive guys right now, and when we get some starters back we will approach it the same way, the best nine guys to win us that game will be on the field,” said Burke.
Twin Valley visits Black River on Monday at 4:30 pm.