It came down to the bottom of the ninth, and the McPherson Pipeliners were trailing by two runs with two runners on base. McPherson had the chance to snap their losing streak and get their first win over the Clearwater Outlaws after four attempts. Despite a 10-strikeout performance by Harry Park and putting up nine hits, it wasn't meant to be as the Pipeliners fell to the Outlaws 5-3, making it their seven straight losses in their league.
The game didn't end the way Pipeliners head coach Caleb Hartman wanted it, but he couldn't ask for a game that would turn to a deciding factor despite coming up short.
"Harry (Park) did extremely well. Everyone did well. It was a fun game to be apart of. I'm proud of the guys, obviously the outcome wasn't in our favor, but they fought through it, even down to the last inning with two guys on," Hartman said. "I'm not happy with the outcome, but I'm happy with the performance."
The Outlaws were in control early after putting up three runs in the top of the second, and one more in the third. Park started on the mound for the Pipeliners, and despite giving up five runs, he was lights out, which was a goal for the right-hand pitcher out of Hesston College after his last start in Light Capital Stadium.
"Last time I pitched here, I walked 10 (runners), so the goal was to pitch as many strikes that I could, Park said. It paid off, ended up striking out 10. I wish it would've came with a win, but that's how baseball goes."
The Pipeliners were down one run in the top of the eight until Outlaws' Jake Peterson hit a solo home run to give Clearwater the 5-3 lead. After the homer, it was a wrap for Park. Ethan Wilson took over as the reliever.
"I just battled off a few pitches. A few fastballs, and a few curveballs," Park said."Eventually I was able to sit on one and getting a hold of it. I made a good pitch, but the dude put a good swing on it."
McPherson may have put nine hits, but they also hit 10 pop-ups at the plate. The Pipeliners kept fighting their way each inning to keep it a closer game after scoring three runs on RBI singles by Dominick Trevino, newly acquired Andrew Black and a sacrifice-fly by Carson Davis. McPherson's speed demon Cody Carpenter also led the Pipeliners with three hits and two steals. However, compared to Friday's loss to the Park City Rangers, the Pipeliners had opportunities to score more runs, yet the untimely hitting resulted into leaving a total of 10 runners on base.
"Second game in a row it was our untimely hitting," Hartman said. "Like I said before, you can't win ball games with 10 left on. They did what they were suppose to do. They just didn't string together the hits like when we needed them to."
The Pipeliners have lost 10 of the last 11 games and are 0-5 against the Outlaws. Both will meet one more time on July 12. The Pipeliners are now 7-17 in their league. They will look to end their slump on Sunday as they face the Valley Center Mud Daubers at home at 7 p.m.
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_or our sports page @MacCountySports