NAPLES—A weak top of the first cost Lake Region when York dropped in to visit on Monday afternoon, May 21, setting them back three runs and nullifying their chances for a hot start. True Meyers did eventually score once for the Lakers, and Andy Douglass twice; still, as the game passed, the Wildcats piled on further offense and pulled away for an 8-3 final.
“For some reason, this year, we have just had the issue with the first inning,” said Lake Region head coach Andrew Stacy. “I don’t know what it is. In high school baseball, momentum is such a thing, and usually when something happens, it continues to happen, just because it’s such a short season.”
York’s one-, two- and three-hitters – Riley Linn, Shane Pidgeon and Tim MacDonald – all reached base to start the game. Linn singled off Meyers, the Lakers’ starter on the mound, while Pidgeon and MacDonald both doubled off him. Meyers did strike out Jake Sullivan in the stretch, but Lake Region also committed errors at short and second, capping their inauspicious start.
“We had a tough first inning,” Stacy said. “We gave up three there, and then the rest of the game, you know, we started to play a little bit better baseball.”
“The way I look at it, if these guys are giving up errors in big spots, that’s gotta be on me,” Stacy said. “I’ve got to find a better way to get them better to play a baseball game. These guys are young; I’ve got to do my job to the best of my ability, put them in better situations. Try some different drills, keep them on edge – I’ve got to try to do things to hopefully get them back in it. Because if we do get rid of that first inning problem, we are a very tough team. We played with [York] for six innings.”
The Wildcats notched another pair in the second: KJ Johnston and Linn both scored, the former walking onto base and the latter singling into left. York added one in the third as well, Alex Neilson doing the honors.
Finally, in the fourth, Lake Region managed to string together enough quality contact to get a man around. The Lakers had connected well enough at the plate through the first three innings – they’d turned in just two strikeouts, and Tristen Chaine and Isaac Holland had both tallied hits; York had simply played comparatively clean defense on LRHS’s grounders and flies.
“I didn’t think we swung the bats bad,” Stacy said. “If you take a look at the first inning, Cody Allen rips a ball right at the third baseman, and then, I think, Tristen Chaine gets a little blooper in there…Their third baseman made a couple of really nice plays to take our momentum away. So our bats are not an issue: We swing the bats really well; it’s just a matter of making a couple plays on the defensive end.”
Douglass kicked off the fourth with a drive single into centerfield. He then rounded all the way to home on a huge Mark Mayo shot to center-right. For his part, Mayo thought he had a triple on his hands, but the ball pingponged 8-4-2-5 and somehow beat him to third. 6-1.
The Lakers logged two more in the sixth. Meyers walked onto base to begin the stretch; Douglass followed him into the batter’s box and promptly doubled. Both boys scored in due course, but that’s where Lake Region’s offensive well dried up for the day. The Wildcats’, however, kept on giving: York recorded two more in the top of the seventh for the 8-3 final.
“We started to chip away,” Stacy said, “got it to 6-3 at one point, in the sixth. And then, of course, gave them a couple more in the seventh. It’s too bad. The team’s right there, a lot, we’re just making a few too many errors in big spots, and the other team isn’t, and unfortunately that’s the way the game of baseball is played.”
Lake Region slipped on the loss to 5-9. The Lakers sit, currently, in 12th place in B South – one slot outside the postseason. Gray-New Gloucester, at 7-5, occupies 11th.
Stacy remarked on some of his boys’ performances, beginning with Meyers on the mound. “True threw well,” he said; “he threw strikes. The one thing I’ve really liked about True this year is that he comes out and competes. He’s always been a competitive guy, and this year, everything is kind of locked-in for him. So you know you’re going to get whatever you’ve got out of him, every single pitch. He’s basically been our huge team leader this year. You can feel the difference in the energy when he’s there.”
“He really settled in in the second and third,” Stacy said of Meyers. “Started mixing in his off-speed pitches, started locating a little bit better with his fastball. Obviously, you can’t make mistakes to these guys; these guys hit mistakes a long way. Defensively, we started to make a couple of plays, which obviously makes his job easier, he gets a little bit more confident, and that builds onto itself.”
“Cody Allen has been a really solid spot for us,” Stacy went on. “He’s had to switch from shortstop to catcher for us, because of an injury, and he’s done a really nice job back there. Tristen Chaine’s been really solid at centerfield. And we’ve got some young talent that’s just learning to play at the varsity level, which is not easy.”
The Lakers waste no time rematching with York: The team’s very next outing is a road bout at the Wildcats on Friday the 25th. If Lake Region can play a more consistent ballgame in the teams’ second meeting – if they can pull out a victory – they stand a good chance of sneaking into the playoffs, as York is ranked fourth. The last opponent on Lake Region’s regular-season docket is Greely, whom they host on the 29th. The No. 6 Rangers also present a critical opportunity to the Lakers.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Tristen Chaine connects at the plate for the Lakers.
True Meyers started on the mound for the Lakers.
LRHS second baseman Isaac Holland reaches for an incoming throw; Holland will momentarily reel in the ball and lay down a successful tag on his York opponent.
Lake Region second baseman Isaac Holland picks off his second York would-be base-stealer of the day.
Laker Andy Douglass dives for home. Douglass will make the plate, scoring one of LRHS’s three runs on the afternoon.
Matt Casey relieved Lakers starter True Meyers later in the game.
Tristen Chaine rounds to third for LRHS.