Hurricane hands Riverside another close loss
If the nature of the baseball gods is fickle as has long been believed, Riverside may have one heck of a run in store for the postseason that begins next week.
The Warriors couldn't take advantage of a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the bottom of the seventh inning and came up empty again in the eighth as Hurricane gritted out a 3-2 win at Epling Field in East Bank on Friday night. A large Riverside Senior Night crowd was on hand.
According to Riverside coach Chris Hawkins, the Warriors fell to 0-10 in games decided by two runs or less this season, a trend that has surfaced against some of the area's elite, like the No. 1 Redskins on Friday.
"The baseball gods can't have it out for you for a whole year," Hawkins said. "I told them, 'Hey, were 0-10 in games decided by two runs or less in the regular season, let's go into [sectionals] thinking the odds are going to change when it's postseason play.' It would've been nice to beat the No. 1 team in the state, but in the main scheme of things, it didn't mean anything.
"A lot of teams don't have an opportunity to have their last game to be against a team the caliber of Hurricane. You might not find many guys say they're excited about a loss, but it's a great tune-up for us heading into sectionals."
Indeed, Riverside looked poised to finally break through in the seventh inning.
Down by one, Aaron Halstead drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a one-out infield single from Doug Prather. Mark Kell followed with a gutsy walk, as he managed to lay off three close pitches after falling behind 1-2.
Pat Horton then legged out an RBI infield single to score Halstead and tie the game at 2 with cleanup hitter Alex Daugherty coming up. But Daugherty went down on strikes and while Tyler Hall belted a ball to center field, it wasn't nearly enough to clear the spacious grounds of Epling Field and Hurricane centerfielder Bryce Belcher ran it down for the third out.
The Redskins' Austin Hensley drew a walk to lead off the top of the eighth and later scored when Alexander Dunham grounded out to first, providing the difference for Hurricane.
Redskins coach Brian Sutphin admitted his team, which wrapped up a Mountain State Athletic Conference championship on Wednesday, may not have brought its A-game on Friday.
"We didn't have a lot of energy,'' Sutphin said. "I told them, 'I get it, this is a big week.' We're getting ready for sectionals and that kind of stuff, plus we had the MSAC tournament and Senior Night was last night. But then again, you're 16.
"[To win] shows some mental toughness and a little bit of grind. That's ultimately what it takes. This game is a lot more than physical skill."
J.T. Rogoszewski set the tone early for Hurricane, throwing four no-hit shutout innings before yielding to Zach Fitzsimmons.
Riverside's Zach Landers was also effective, going six-plus innings and giving up two runs on four hits while striking out six.
Doug Wright had an RBI single in the sixth for Riverside. Max Maxson had the lone extra-base hit of the game, a double for Hurricane (26-4).
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.