The McPherson Pipeliners were able to outhit the Clearwater Outlaws, but struggled to finish the job. Eventually, Clearwater put the nail in the coffin in the ninth inning, defeating the Pipeliners 8-3 in the Fourth of July Showdown at Edward Jones Stadium.
Getting runners on base was not the issue for the Pipeliners as they recorded 10 out of the Outlaw's eight hits. In the beginning, while attempting to steal bases, the runners got caught and were tagged out four times.
"That was rough in the beginning. That was us trying to do too much in an environment that is fun to play in," Pipeliners Head Coach Chris Dawson said. "They were trying to make that spectacular play, and it was just losing focus, and it hurt us."
Jake Selco brought some fireworks of his own after hitting a solo home run in the bottom third. Pipeliners captured their first lead after Kevin Fleisher stole home plate just in time to end the inning. Fleisher was 3-for-5 at-bat.
The Pipeliner's one and only lead was cut short after Clearwater's Lincoln Andrew hit a two-run homer in the top fifth. Since then, the Pipeliners had missed opportunities to even the score, if not regain the lead. Even when they loaded up the bases, the Pipeliners left 10 batters on all night.
"We got to get that big hit. We were getting them early on, and for some reason, our approaches have gone to crap," Dawson said. "We just got to be smart with our approaches and do the job that we needed to get done. We just need to get those hits, and we'll be fine."
Austin Jentzsch started on the mound for the Pipeliners. In five innings, despite hitting four batters and surrendering four runs, which included the two-run homer, he only gave way four hits and pitched four strikeouts.
"He did a great job coming on his own and finally started to focus up," Dawson said. "When he throws strikes, he's really good. He's not a soft kid and has a good breaking ball. He's still learning how to develop and how to pitch, and Coach (Doug) Gove has been working with him.
After the fifth inning, the Pipeliners relied on their bullpen which involved Rey Lozano, CJ Cecil and Andrew Black. While down 4-3, both Lozano and Cecil were able to keep the Outlaws scoreless for three straight innings.
"That's what Rey has done all summer," Dawson said. "Rey (Lozano) just pound the zone and sometimes, he has gotten out of it, but he's been really sharp these last couple outings, and same with CJ (Cecil). He went out to Dodge City with us and threw seven innings for us. He's always been that security blanket when he's available, and he was available and threw two good innings for us."
The Pipeliner's defense has been holding on to only be down one run until the top ninth when Clearwater hit the dagger right in the gut by collecting four runs, including a three-run bomber by Kade Brewer that silenced the dugout, and the home crowd.
"We've been good defensively, and if we just keep playing that, we are ought to be in games," Dawson said. "We just got to get that hit and throw strikes more. Once we do that, we will be alright."
The Pipeliners are 2-4 against the Outlaws and dropped to 10-19 (8-13 in league play) of the season. The Pipeliners will return to Light Capital Diamond to host the Hays Larks on Saturday and Sunday. Both games will start at 7 p.m.
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