Costly Miscues: Sloppy defense costs Bulldogs in semifinal

STAR CITY — Sloppy defense ruined a stellar outing by sophomore Blake Wynn and cost Star City a shot at winning its own tournament.

The Bulldogs committed five errors that led to five Parkers Chapel runs. The Trojans were nearly as generous with three errors leading to three unearned runs.

The ugliness from both sides added up to a competitive game Saturday night as Parkers Chapel earned a 7-6 win in nine innings in the semifinals of the Los Toritos Spring Break Tournament.

“Our defense has been really sharp,” Bulldogs coach Scott Johnson said. “We didn’t play good defense out there, though.

“But I told them, ‘You learn from games early in the year, so that you can learn from your mistakes and come May, you’ll fix them and win games.’”

The errors soured a strong pitching performance from Wynn. He allowed six runs (one earned) on eight hits with no walks and 15 strikeouts over eight innings of work.

Wynn’s outing plus several miscues by Parkers Chapel (7-1) kept Star City (8-2) in the game, and the Bulldogs actually had several opportunities to win the game.

A two-run single by Austin Powell gave Star City a 6-5 lead heading into the top of the seventh.

Wynn retired the first two batters of the frame, but Chris Worthey reached on a single and moved up to second on a wild pitch.

Eric White followed with a fly ball to right-center field. Center fielder Chris Holleman appeared to have the ball in his glove but lost it when he collided with rightfielder Austin Smith. The drop allowed Worthey to score on the play and tie the game 7-7.

As the game entered extra innings, the teams’ began using the international tiebreaker, which has the player who made the last out the previous inning start on second base.

“It’s something we added to try and speed the process up,” Johnson said. “Nobody was caught off-guard by it.

“We put it in the official tournament rules I sent to everybody.”

With the rule in place, Johnson’s strategy was to try and bunt the runner to third with his first hitter of the inning.

“If you can get him to third with less than two outs, you have a great opportunity to get him in,” Johnson said. “We tried and it didn’t work out for us. …

“We believe in playing small ball in that situation. Unfortunately it didn’t work out.”

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Cain Patton started out on second and Cole Muckelroy attempted to bunt him over. Muckelroy’s bunt to the third-base side of the mound was fielded by pitcher Taylor Langston and led to Patton being tagged out at third.

In the top of the ninth, Parkers Chapel worked the strategy perfectly off Star City relief pitcher Austin Capps.

Alex Taylor sacrificed Dez Jackson to third base and Reagan Cates brought him in with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Star City had a chance to answer in the bottom of the frame, but Garry Hill struck out after two failed bunt attempts. With Powell batting, Wynn was picked off trying to steal third.

Powell came through with a double, though, to keep the Bulldogs alive. However, Capps grounded out to shortstop to end the game.

With the win, Parkers Chapel will face Pine Bluff in the championship game at 7 p.m. Monday. Star City will take on Malvern for third place at 4 p.m.

“I expect us to come back and battle hard,” Johnson said. “I expect us to work hard and try to get a W.”

Monticello 7, Marked Tree 0

STAR CITY — Three Billies combined to limit the Indians to just three hits in a consolation semifinal win on Saturday.

Blake Holstead threw the first three innings and allowed just one hit. Cooper Williams pitched two innings and gave up two hits and Christian Paul threw two no-hit innings.

Peyton Murrell went 2 for 4 to lead Monticello (6-3).

The Billies will face Hamburg in the fifth-place game at 1 p.m. Monday. The Lions defeated Junction City, 6-2, on Saturday.