Baserunning mistakes cost Woodland in narrow loss

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The Woodland baseball team is now 1-11 in Region 7-AAAAA, but the outcomes of most of the ’Cats’ games have been determined by just a few plays.

Such was the case Friday night at home against Creekview as Woodland hung in the game and nearly came back from a five-run deficit, but a few baserunning blunders and fielding errors handed the Wildcats a 9-7 loss.

“We’re a little snakebit right now because we can’t figure out a way to make one less mistake,” Woodland head coach Corey Gochee said of the game. “We’ve lost a lot of one-run ballgames or gave up the lead late. That’s the difference in our games.”

Creekview looked like it might run away with the game early as the Grizzlies scored three runs in each the first and second innings. Creekview got a two-run home run by Bradford Martin in the first inning, and Woodland made an error in both innings to add to the damage.

Garrett Pope got the start for Woodland and allowed six runs, four earned, after he allowed just three earned runs in his last three outings.

“[Pope] left a couple of balls up and we made some errors that extended some innings for him,” Gochee said of Creekview’s fast start at the plate. “The ball they hit out, he left it up and the guy hit it out. If he locates it down, it might just be a base hit. However, we made an error the hitter before. So we extended the inning and put him in trouble, and we hadn’t been doing that in his previous starts.”

Despite Creekview putting up early runs, Woodland was able to keep the game close with one run in the first inning and three runs in the second. The first run for Woodland came on an RBI single by Trenton Harrison. In the second inning, Garrett Cornett and Jacob Frye hit back-to-back singles and Mason Robinson drove home both runners with a double.

The first three batters in the Woodland lineup — Frye, Robinson and Harrison — recorded nine of Woodland’s 15 hits in the game. Frye went 3-for-3 with two triples, a walk, three runs scored and an RBI. Robinson went 3-for-4 with two doubles, three RBIs and two runs scored.

The game was Robinson’s second consecutive game with three hits, while Frye’s batting average is now up to .438 on the season.

“Jacob Frye there in the leadoff spot, he’s seeing the ball really well and it showed. He hit two triples and, one of them, he almost danced out of the way on a two-strike pitch and still hit a triple,” Gochee said. “Grant is another guy who’s very hot right now. That’s a key for us, getting those guys on base. We had an injury today before the game so we had to bump everybody up one, and guys showed up and hit the ball. Any day we’re getting 10, 15 hits, that’s pretty good.”

Woodland could have added more runs in the first inning, though, but the Wildcats stranded runners on second and third base with no outs.

After Creekview added a run in the third inning to make the score 7-4, Woodland scored two more runs in the fourth inning on Frye’s RBI triple and Robinson’s RBI double.

However, Woodland would squander a chance to tie the score in the fifth inning. The ’Cats had three singles and a hit batsman in the inning, but three outs on baserunning miscues prevented them from tying the score. In the sixth inning, Woodland once again had a runner thrown out on the basepaths trying to go home.

“Not only did we run ourselves out of two innings, but in the first inning, we had runners on second and third, nobody out, and we didn’t score a run after that. So that’s two runs in the first, and then we run ourselves out of two innings,” Gochee said. “We have to figure out a way to eliminate those mistakes. This game is not a difficult game. The team that executes and makes the least amount of mistakes is going to win the ballgame.”

Creekview would score a run in the sixth and a run in the seventh to increase its lead. Despite the late runs, Rodolfo Romo had a strong outing as he threw 5 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits with two strikeouts. Romo entered the game with a 1.66 ERA in 12 2/3 innings.

“Romo has pitched well for us all year, and I feel, right now, he serves us better by coming out of the bullpen,” Gochee said. “He has gobbled up innings. He’s just disrupting timing. That’s what pitching is about. It’s about throwing strikes and disrupting timing. He’s getting soft contact a lot. He’s done a great job for us.”

Woodland scored a run of its own in the sixth on back-to-back singles by Robinson and Harrison, but it would not be enough to complete the comeback.

“I felt, tonight, we battled all night. We have to eliminate those mistakes. Tonight was the first time I saw us make physical and mental mistakes. Mental mistakes cost us,” Gochee said. “We swung the bat very well. It’s the freebies. We made four errors. We gave them baserunners, and we ran ourselves out of two innings.”

Woodland is now 2-13 overall and will look to get on track with a nonregion game Tuesday against Troy from Ohio.