WELLINGTON—The McPherson Pipeliners ended its three-game road trip, losing their third straight game to the Wellington Heat 10-1 and only recording five hits.
The Pipeliners went into Friday's game averaging 15 hits a game. The batters struggled against the Heat's ace pitcher Matt Oxner, who not only recorded 12 Ks over McPherson, but also played a complete game, which is a first for Wellington.
"Hitting wasn't there tonight. We hit .161 as a team. He (Oxner) had a great pitching performance," Pipeliners head coach Caleb Hartman said. "They threw great sliders and fast balls were working for them. He's one of their big guys. He's great on the mound . They just outplayed us on all aspects of the game."
Osvaldo "O.J." Mendez" started on the mound for the Pipeliners. It was a rough outing for Mendez after being called for balking five times in the first two innings. Some costed unearned runs for the Heat. The umpire called balk after catching Mendez licking his fingers off the rubber, which is illegal.
"Every Pitcher should know that you should never lick your fingers on the rubber, or on the mound," Hartman said. "If you do, you have to be off the mound, and off the rubber. If you lick your fingers, you got go to your jersey or to your pants to wipe off the saliva. O.J. was trying to get a grip on the ball. Granted he was on the rubber when he did that, which he shouldn't. The umpire made the correct call."
Liam Rosebeck took over for Mendez after two innings and pitched all game until Calvin Jones took over as the closer in the ninth.
"I knew going into this game we have to win all three aspects of the game," Hartman said. "Defense was mediocre. It wasn't bad. Pitching was a lot better."
Hartman also thinks the umpire made questionable calls that went against McPherson's favor. Even though he avoided saying the bad calls cost them the game, he let his voice be heard on how he felt about it.
"I don't like to make excuses, but I think the umpires hurt us tonight, but that's baseball," Hartman said. "You never going to get professional umpires out here. I think they definitely influence this game. Regardless we still loss the ball game. We can't put the blame on anyone except for our ourselves."
The Heat got to a fast start after hitting two RBI singles that would led to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Wellington would also hit a pair of home runs, having the Pipeliners trailing all night. McPherson's only run came in the sixth inning after Eric Gutierrez hits an RBI single, sending Clayton Peterson home after getting a double. Gutierrez led McPherson with two hits and one RBI.
"We played defense. That was our biggest thing. I know what this offense was capable of," Wellington head coach Rick Twyman said after the game.
Twyman also gave Hartman and the Pipeliners his warm regards, believing the future his bright for McPherson.
"He's (Hartman) a great young coach and has a great coaching staff. I told them don't panic after this . The town should be proud of what they are today.
The Pipeliners fall to 2-4 of the year and will be back on the field Saturday, June 9, hosting the Kansas Cannons at the Light Capital Stadium at 7 p.m.
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_orour sports page @MacCountySports