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PLYMOUTH â€” The Pilgrims battled back at the plate, but wild pitching in the third and fourth innings proved too much to come back from in a 9-7 Northern Lakes Conference loss to Elkhart Memorial Wednesday.
Plymouth sophomore starter Riley Cartwright surrendered four walks with a hit batsman, while catcherâ€™s interference cost another run as the visiting Chargers put up a five spot in the top of the third to grab a 6-1 lead, and another four walks by reliever Jacob Frantz cost two more runs in the fourth.
The Pilgrims battled back with four runs off a pair of hits and two Elkhart errors in the bottom of the sixth, but the hole was too deep to climb out of, and Plymouth dropped its second straight NLC game at home at Bill Nixon Field.
â€śItâ€™s frustrating for us to see that, and I know itâ€™s frustrating for them to throw it, but they looked like they were throwing on the mound in practice,â€ť said Plymouth head coach Tony Plothow. â€śIn the bullpen they were throwing great. Itâ€™s a matter of going out and proving to yourself as well as everybody on your team that youâ€™re here to compete. Right now weâ€™re not getting that night-in and night-out.
â€śItâ€™s a tough game to look at the way these kids battled back, but unfortunately things didnâ€™t go our way.â€ť
The Pilgrims got on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the first as Joe Knapp led off with a single, Connor Flynn followed with another base hit, and Chase Peters reached on a misplayed fly in left. Jacob Seagraves drove Knapp home with a sacrifice fly to center that Elkhart centerfielder Nate Troutman made a nice diving catch on, and Plymouth took the early 1-0 advantage.
The Chargers responded in the second when starting pitcher Parker Devenney cranked a 2-1 offering over the left field fence leading off the inning to knot the score at 1-all.
But it was the third inning that ultimately proved the costliest for Plymouth.
Troutman and Alex Brewers drew back-to-back walks, and Daniel Asbury reached on a bunt down the third baseline to load the bags. Robert Asbury was hit by a pitch one out later to score Troutman, Devenney drew the inningâ€™s third walk to score Brewers, and Bobby Brewers singled into shallow left to score Daniel Asbury.
Scottie Clark drove in Robert Asbury and reached on a catcherâ€™s interference that would have been a 1-4-3 play, and Joe Santerro drew the final walk of the inning to plate Devenney before Frantz came in to relieve Cartwright, inducing a pop-out by Troutman and fanning Alex Brewers to leave the bases loaded with the Pilgrims trailing 6-1.
Hayden Skirvin was left at second after a one-out double in the bottom of the inning, and the Chargers tacked on two more runs in the top of the fourth as Frantz began to struggle with his command.
Daniel Asbury drew a lead-off walk, Robert Asbury walked with one out, and both advanced on a wild pitch. Devenney drew a third walk to load the bases, and Frantz walked in Daniel Asbury before Joe Santerro singled through the gap at short with two outs to score Robert Asbury and give the visitors an 8-1 cushion.
The Pilgrims whittled down the lead with two runs in the fourth and fifth before putting up their own big inning with four runs in the sixth.
Knapp reached on a fielderâ€™s choice grounder to second, Flynn singled with a shallow fly on the left field line, and Peters reached on a throwing error by Elkhart third baseman Clark that scored Knapp. Seagraves coaxed a walk from Devenney in a seven-pitch at-bat to load the bases with one out, and Frantz scored Flynn when he battled back from a 1-2 count to draw another walk with two outs. Trent Briles came up big in the seven spot with a two-out, two-strike single through the gap at second that drove in both Peters and pinch runner Jordan Scheetz and cut the score to 8-7.
But Memorial plated an insurance run on a wild pitch in the top of the seventh, and the Pilgrims left Flynn stranded at first in the final frame to take the 9-7 loss.
â€śI love the way our kids stuck their nose in at the plate,â€ť said Plothow. â€śWe made some good plays when the ball was put in play, but we just couldnâ€™t overcome our mistakes on the mound and our mistakes behind the plate.â€ť
Devenney got the win on the mound giving up six hits with three walks and four strikeouts in four innings pitched, and Justin Oley got the save on the mound relieving Clark in the sixth as Memorial moved to 6-11 on the season and 4-3 in conference play.
Cartwright took the loss surrendering four hits and five walks with three strikeouts for five earned runs in two and a third innings.
Flynn finished 3-for-4 at the plate with a double and two runs scored.
Plymouth slips to 4-3 in the NLC and an even 7-7 overall. The Pilgrims host Concord in another league game Friday before hosting its annual home tournament Saturday.
â€˘ ELKHART MEMORIAL 9,
Memorial: 015 200 1 â€” 9 6 3
Plymouth: 100 114 0 â€” 7 11 1
Parker Devenney (W, 1-4), Scottie Clarke (5), Justin Oley (Sv); Riley Cartwright (L), Jacob Frantz (3), Chase Peters (5).
2B: Connor Flynn (P), Hayden Skirvin (P)
HR: Devenney (EM)
Records: Plymouth 7-7 (4-3 NLC), Memorial 6-11 (4-3 NLC)