This time, tight finish bites Bombers

Rachel Mummey/The Herald
Dubois County catcher Chris Tavares blocked John Beary from crossing home plate as the Bombers battled league-leading Hoptown on Tuesday night at League Stadium. Tavares prevented Beary from scoring and Dubois County didn’t allow a run until the ninth inning, but the Hoppers pounced for four runs in the final frame and secured a 4-3 win.

By BRENDAN PERKINS
Herald Sports Editor

HUNTINGBURG — Hamilton Carr has one request. The Dubois County Bombers left fielder doesn’t even want much.

“I wish one time we could just have a nice steady lead and just let that go throughout the whole game and finish it out instead of just sometimes letting (opponents) jump on us early, or we’d jump on them early and let the game slip away,” Carr said.

“It’d be nice to play a strong nine innings and get a win and get out of here,” he paused while emitting a sigh, “but it’s just how it goes sometimes.”

More often than not, it’s been going tense for Dubois County.

Thirteen times this summer — representing more than half the contests they’ve played — the Bombers have been in games decided by one or two runs. More than once Tuesday night against Ohio Valley League-leading Hoptown, the Bombers aligned themselves to be on the good side of a one-run finish. But they exited League Stadium feeling the drag of a one-run debt.

An out away from a shutout victory, the Bombers surrendered a game-tying single then a three-run double by Mitch Huckabay. A clutch hit away from wresting the advantage back on an uprising of their own in the bottom of the ninth, the push fizzled. The Bombers accepted a 4-3 setback — a shame, as they saw it, considering how slick defense and Connor Strain’s pitching allowed them to sail through eight orderly innings.

“We definitely gave ourselves a chance to win and didn’t several times,” said Bombers manager Wes Fink, pinning the setback on baserunning that he deemed “terrible.”

“Just small things throughout the game when you should score and you don’t score, and in a close game that makes a big difference. Just being alert and ready to go and knowing the game. That’s why they’re playing, they have to learn from it. And us a team, (we) just need to do better at that. When you have the opportunity, you have to take advantage.”

The Bombers regretted one of the final windows that was available.

In the ninth, Carr’s grounder to pitcher Trevor Blocker was overthrown in an off-balance wing to first base, allowing Shain Showers and Jacob Armstrong to scamper home. Casey Ryan followed with a meek grounder to second, but the Bombers’ runner on third base didn’t break for home — an opportunity up in smoke for the Bombers, especially when the ball was bobbled anyway. The fielding error loaded the bases. But it was essentially a curse for Dubois County, since it set up the double play and Hoptown erased the Bombers with a 6-4-3 twin killing by a half-step to squash the rally.

Within a hectic ninth inning, the two squads combined for six of the game’s seven runs, five of the 12 hits and three of the five errors. Prior to that, Dubois County’s defense suppressed Hoptown’s flow. Chris Tavares eliminated two would-be base-stealers in the fourth, Jarret Young ranged from his third-base post to squeeze a popup at the outfield bullpen, and Ryan stabbed a diving catch in center.

The most pristine gem belonged to Carr, though.

In the seventh, the University of Southern Indiana sophomore and Evansville Reitz graduate trucked toward the wall in deep left field. Sprawling head-first toward the fence, he made a stab. The League Stadium crowd’s reaction was delayed, since no one knew if Carr made the grab. From his seat and with his back facing the infield, Carr casually raised his hand with evidence present and ball in hand.

“The way it sounded off the bat and how quickly it was getting out there, I didn’t think I was going to get to it. But once I just turned around and just started sprinting full speed, I knew I had a good chance at it,” said Carr, who also walked and scored on Bo Ausmus’ RBI hit in the eighth inning for the game’s first run. “I’m glad I could make a big play for Connor, because he pitched a heck of a game.”

That was the consensus, as most Bombers took turns saluting the University of Evansville hurler and North Central (Farmersburg) High School product after muting league-leading Hoptown to three hits in 71⁄3 scoreless innings.

“He was throwing strikes down in the zone. Connor threw great,” Fink said. “He’s made a lot of improvements.”

In turn, the Bombers want another upgrade with the end of the regular season three weeks away. Dubois County visits Madisonville tonight and will host the same Pirates team in Thursday’s game that includes a July 4 fireworks show following the game.

“Our bats were kind of dead for most of the game,” Carr said. “But that’s something we can easily fix.”

Contact Brendan Perkins at bperkins@dcherald.com.




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