CLEARWATER— After lasting for four hours on Wednesday's matchup against the Clearwater Outlaws, the McPherson Pipeliners let the game slip away despite batting .413, losing 21-18.
At first, it almost looked like the Pipeliners were in control after a grand slam by Marcus McDaniel and an RBI by Luke Quick to give the McPherson a 10-3 lead in the top third. It was until the fifth inning when all things fell apart defensively.
The Pipeliners gave up nine runs with 0 outs in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Outlaws overcame a 10-3 deficit, and head coach Caleb Hartman had to deal with something no others coaches want any part of in baseball— a shootout.
"It's hit by pitch, fast balls, leaving the ball up, 0-2 strikes that are being punched by the other way" Hartman said. "The 0-2, 1-2 pitches need to be off the plate. We can't leave the ball in the zone against a team like this or any team."
Blaine Hanf started on the mound for McPherson and allowed six of the 21 runs against the Outlaws. Five other pitchers stepped in at the bullpen, and each of them had their struggles against the batters. Six of the pitchers combined for 10 strikeouts. Harry Park, one of the relievers, led McPherson with four strikeouts.
"We couldn't locate the fast ball. Big part of pitching is was pitching strikes, Hartman said. "You can't throw first pitch strikes. The percentage of first pitch strike that result to out is 80 percent. It dropped significantly after that."
Marcus McDaniel led the Pipeliners with five RBIs after hitting a grand slam earlier in the game. Cody Starkel led McPherson with with four hits at bat.
Now at 2-2 (0-1 in league conference), the Pipeliners are back on the road Thursday night as they will face the Valley Center Mud Daubers at 7 p.m.
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_orour sports page @MacCountySports