Lutheran West fell to host Beachwood yesterday 2-1. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, runs were about the only category that Beachwood topped the Longhorns, but it is the only one that matters. West out hit the Bison eight to three and committed zero errors to Beachwood’s two. The devil is unfortunately in the details, as West made two base running blunders and walked five Bison hitters that undoubtably cost them the game.
Longhorn ace Zach Hammer-Huber (L, 1-1) was strong all day, but struggled with his control. The senior struck out seven in five innings of work and only allowed two hits, but walked five. His lack of control first bit him in the third when he walked the ninth hitter in the Beachwood batting order to start the inning. That runner came around to score on a two-out single to center to tie the game at one.
Beachwood’s second run can on a leadoff single, a stolen base, a ground out to move the runner to third and a sacrifice fly.
West had a couple of opportunities to score derailed by baserunning mistakes. In the top of the fifth with the score tied 1-1, junior Ben Cruz lined a single to right for a base hit to open the inning. Cruz moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior Owen Youngers. Youngers reached first when Beachwood’s catcher’s throw to first was poor, and the Longhorns looked to be in business with two on and no one out. But Cruz promptly got picked off of second and senior Ben Gramsz’ subsequent infield single did no damage. A ground out to third and a strikeout ended the threat.
In the sixth West also had runners on first and second with one out. After a ground out by junior DJ Robinson to start the inning, junior Aaron Blaine reached on an error by Beachwood’s shortstop. Senior Julian Croft pinch ran for Blaine. Freshman Eric Dill singled sharply to right moving Croft to second. But then Croft was picked off second base and junior Eddie Ramos struck out to end the inning.
West’s lone scoring inning came in the first when they were on the short end of two tough calls by the home plate umpire. Gramsz singled on a beautiful bunt down the third base line to start the game. On the second pitch of his at bat, senior Jakob Gross swung and hit a foul ball. Fans with sharp ears could hear the sound of two smacks instead of the normal one, as Gross’ swing hit the catchers’ mitt as well as the pitched ball. This should have been ruled catcher’s interference and Gross should have been awarded first base. But the umpires ruled that they did not see it, so Gross’ at bat continued. Gross was later called out on strikes.
The inning, however continued with a single from junior Zach Keller, a fly out by Robinson and a single from Blaine to plate Gramsz. Dill then swung and missed on a pitch in the dirt for his third strike. Dill, knowing that a third strike that is not caught on the fly by the catcher forces the catcher to throw to first to complete the out, ran to first. The catcher, seemingly unaware of the rule, didn’t throw to first. The umpires, apparently not seeing the cloud of dust caused by the ball striking the ground on its way to the catcher’s glove, ruled Dill out because, again, they “did not see the ball hit the ground.”