Errors haunt Jackets in first league defeat

BENTON – In its previous nine games, Sheridan averaged one error a game. But in Tuesday’s game against Benton, the Yellowjackets committed five errors as they lost 6-2 to the Panthers.

“We made some errors, but you overcome those mistakes if you are a good ball club,” Sheridan head coach Mike Moore said.

After Sheridan (10-3, 2-1 7A/6A-South) took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, Benton (11-1, 2-0) scored one run in the second and three runs in the bottom of the third to take a 4-2 lead.

“If somebody is going to score on you,” Benton head coach Mark Balisterri said, “the first inning is probably the best inning to do that.

“Because you got a lot of time to come back.”

Benton’s Bailey Mitchell reached on an error to lead off the third. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and went to third on an error on the first baseman, which also allowed Colby Johnson to reach first.

A single by Brinson Williams plated Johnson and chased Sheridan starter Tyler McKinzie from the game. Benton picked up two more runs on an infield single and a hit batter that forced in a run.

“We did scratch a few to get back in it,” Balisterri said.

McKinzie lasted just 2 1/3 innings and gave up four runs on two hits with one strikeout in defeat.

“We only gave up one earned run so, in our mind, we can still beat those guys,” Moore said. “They are a good ball club, but if we play like we normally play, we know we can win.”

Sheridan got on the board in the first inning thanks to a little help from the Panthers.

With one out, Tyler Raney and Hunter Strong reached on a pair of singles. On a double steal attempt, the ball got past the third baseman, allowing Raney to score and give the Yellowjackets a 1-0 lead.

Evan Thompson hit a sacrifice fly and it gave Sheridan the two-run lead. However, that would be the end of Sheridan’s offense as it would be the only two hits for the Yellowjackets.

“The thing that hurt us was fly ball outs,” Moore said. “And that’s not our game. Our game is ground balls and line drives. We just had too many fly ball outs.

“We weren’t locked in at the plate.”

Benton starter Brian Krikorian lasted just two innings. He allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits with one strikeout and two walks. Balisterri said he decided to pull Krikorian because he felt like “he just didn’t have his best stuff.”

“We didn’t want to burn him today,” Balisterri said. “He is one of our top three pitchers. We went ahead and made a change and now he will be ready for Friday.”

Chase Nix pitched the rest of the game for Benton. He allowed just one walk and struck out five in five innings pitch. Balisterri said Nix only threw about 60 pitches so he should “be good for an inning or two” when the Panthers travel to Texarkana.

“Chase came in and I don’t think they got a hit the rest of the game,” Balisterri said. “He did a heck of a job and came in there and stepped it up.”

Benton scored two more runs in the bottom of the sixth to secure the victory. Nix was also 1 for 3 with an RBI as neither side had anyone with multiple hits.

“I just think we had been off for a week, knocking the rust off a little bit,” Moore said. “… We got flustered a little bit and got shook a little bit. Trying to make up for it, that kind of thing.

“We got out of our approach and what we were trying to do at the plate. We lost our focus basically.”

For Sheridan, Tyler Allen pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits with four strikeouts and two walks.

The Yellowjackets will host Bryant on Friday at 5 p.m.