Bomber bats slip in delayed, dampened defeat

Ariana van den Akker/The Herald
Dubois County’s Jacob Armstrong strode off first base during the Bombers’ 8-1 loss to Madisonville on Tuesday night at League Stadium in Huntingburg. Moments after his bat slipped from his grasp while taking warm-up swings in the third inning, Armstrong drove in the Bombers’ lone run on a single to left. For a gallery of photos, click here.

By JOE JASINSKI
Herald Sports Writer

HUNTINGBURG — Jacob Armstrong had to blame it on the rain.

While helping roll the tarp onto the League Stadium field on a soaked Tuesday afternoon, Armstrong left his batting gloves on top of the Dubois County Bombers’ dugout. There they sat absorbing water as the rain poured down. By the time Armstrong retrieved them, they’d become too saturated to use in the Bombers’ contest against Madisonville, which was delayed an hour because of the showers.

He taped the bat handle for a little extra grip since no one remembered to bring pine tar. Yet even with the tape, sticking to the script proved a bit more slippery. Literally.

As Armstrong took some warmup cuts just behind the home plate circle before his at-bat in the third inning, the bat came sliding out of his hands and zipped airborne toward the backstop netting.

“As soon as it came out of my hands,” Armstrong recalled, “I was just thinking, ”˜Uh-oh.’”

The netting absorbed the whirling bat, which fell gently to the moist dirt.

Three pitches later, Armstrong tore a single to left field to score Casey Ryan who, coincidentally, had also left his batting gloves on the dugout during the downpour.

Though the post-fling hit evened things in the early frames, the Bombers endured a costlier 8-1 slip against the Pirates, who are now three games ahead of Dubois County in the Ohio Valley League standings.

With the loss, the Bombers were in jeopardy of having their 11⁄2-game lead over Owensboro cut to a half-game with one contest remaining. However, Hoptown doubled up on the Oilers 8-4 on Tuesday, ensuring Dubois County will finish in fourth place entering the playoffs.

Dubois County will host the fifth-place Oilers in a single-elimination first-round skirmish at 7 p.m. Thursday at League Stadium.

Despite losing Bo Ausmus (hamstring) and Andre Davis (broken ankle) — the duo combined for 86 hits, including 19 doubles, 54 runs, 58 RBIs and 16 stolen bases — in addition to the injured Dane Giesler (facial fractures) and Hamilton Carr (knee), the Bombers have remained potent at the plate, as evidenced by 29 runs in the four games just prior to Tuesday.

“With the production that we lost, other guys have stepped up and have done a very good job,” Bomber manager Wes Fink said. “As you look down the roster, everybody’s stepped their game up.”

The afternoon deluge left puddles scattered throughout the warning track dirt, and the Bomber bats appeared equally dampened, especially when needed most.

Dubois County mustered just five hits. In three of the first five innings, the Bombers cracked leadoff doubles — two by Chris Tavares, the other by Kyle Schwinghamer. However, in no instance did the runner advance past second base. Four of the nine batters following the doubles struck out.

“If we want to be successful moving forward, and give ourselves a chance in the playoffs, we have to do those little things right,” said Fink, underlining unsuccessful bunt attempts in particular.

Tyler Mitchell (2-4) yielded just one run through the first four innings while Amstrong’s run-scoring knock knotted things entering the fifth. From there, the Pirates tacked on three runs in the fifth, as well as two more in both the eighth and ninth innings. Compounding the missed opportunities at the plate, the Bombers committed three errors, all occurring in the fifth.

A misplaced ball in left field allowed Madisonville’s leadoff man to stretch a single into two bases. When Mitchell collected a soft squibber and gunned it toward home in an attempt to catch the lead runner, the ball scooted off Tavares’ glove all the way to the backstop. Later in the inning, Shain Showers snatched a bounding ball on a short hop, looked back a runner on third but then fired wide to first. By the time first baseman Hunter Serrato had picked himself off the ground after a dive and fired home, the run had crossed. After another single, Madisonville’s lead ballooned to 5-1.

Though Bomber offensive production was largely absent Tuesday, fan support at the team’s regular season home finale was anything but. The 1,158 in attendance propelled the average game attendance for the season to 905.

“The fan support is the best we’ve ever had here. I don’t think there’s any question about that,” Fink said. “Being with the Bombers for a while, you really appreciate the fans and the community support. Our guys love to play in front of these fans and going down the road, it’s just going to make the experience all the better for the kids coming in.”

Contact Joe Jasinski at jjasinski@dcherald.com.




More on DuboisCountyHerald.com