Barnesville is off to a 4-0 start, and veteran baseball coach D.J. Butler isn't about to complain.
However, after watching his Shamrocks hold off homestanding Bridgeport, 9-7, Monday night on Niekro Diamond at Perkins Field, he could very well do so as his pitcher's walked 11 and they committed three errors.
"I just told the kids that we didn't make a lot of errors, but we made them at crucial times," Butler offered. "The walks ... we've definitely got to cut down on those.
T-L Photo/KIM NORTH
BARNESVILLE’S AUSTON Hannahs dives back into first base safely Monday on Niekro Diamond at Perkins Field. The Shamrocks remained unbeaten with a 9-7 triumph over Bridgeport.
"In the two games that we've really played well in, we've filled up the strike zone, and the two that we've struggled is because of the walks."
Barnesville drew first blood when an attempted double steal forced Bridgeport freshman pitcher Bailey McGrath into a balk, allowing Nate Wehr, who had been hit by a pitch with two outs, to score.
The Bulldogs (2-4) took advantage of Barnesville starter Ian Wells' wildness. They plated two runs on back-to-back two-out walks. Chris Pritchett doubled to ignite the uprising. It was followed by a walk to Cody Reed and Brad Pritchett then struck out, but the ball got away and everyone was safe to load the bases. McGrath drew a 4-pitch walk and Colt Charlton followed with a base-on-balls to make it 2-1.
Four consecutive hits to start the top of the third got the visitors going. Dylan MacMillan singled sharply to center leading off and Zach Dornon ripped a run-scoring triple to deep right-center. Preston Dornon's single to right-center scored his twin brother and Wells' doubled to the same gap, making it 4-2. An error would allow the fifth run to cross the plate.
MacMillan reached on an error leading off the fourth and Z. Dornon found the left-center field gap this time for another run-producing three-bagger. P. Dornon's groundout knocked in his brother for a 7-2 advantage.
Bridgeport answered with two runs of its own as pinch-hitter Garret Spielvogel laced a run-scoring double down the third base line. He would score on Zac Blamey's groundout, cutting the deficit to 7-4.
The Shamrocks manufactured a run in the fifth when Mason Plumly reached on an error with one out and was sacrificed to second by Clay Crosier. Auston Hannahs drew a walk, but was eventually caught in a rundown. However, he stayed alive long enough for Plumly to race home without a throw.
Barnesville made it 9-4 in the sixth as Zach Dornon doubled for his fourth hit of the game with one out. Preston Dornon promptly singled him home.
Bridgeport didn't go down without a fight as it scored once in the bottom of the sixth on Matt Gregorcic's two-out double. The Bulldogs would make it 9-7 in the seventh when Parker Dyson's groundout got one run in and McGrath's single to shallow center plated the second.
McGrath's safety spelled the end of the line for Plumly, who came on to relieve Wells to start the fifth. Zach Dornon entered and quickly got himself into a jam when he walked Spielvogel and then plunked Blamey to load the bases. He settled down to retire Gregorcic on a high popup to second to end the game.
"I'm pleased with the effort, especially the way we came back and gave ourselves a chance to win in the seventh," said Bridgeport assistant coach Dave Williamson.
Wells earned the win with six strikeouts in four innings. McGrath was saddled with the loss, as he also fanned six in four frames.
The game took nearly three hours to complete and saw a total of 302 pitches thrown, with Barnesville tossing 152 of them.
Barnesville 014 211 0 - 9 12 3
Bridgeport 020 201 2 - 7 4 4
Batteries: I. Wells, Plumly (5), Z. Dornon (7) and P. Dornon. McGrath, Spielvogel (5) and Blamey
North can be reached at email@example.com