Artesians topple Raiders in season openerMarch 28, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
HUNTINGBURG — It was opening day at League Stadium last night as the Southridge Raiders took to the field for another spring campaign. However, the rust and rough edges were evident as the fielding mistakes and a lack of hits saw the Raiders fall to the Martinsville Artesians 5-2 on Thursday night.
Southridge head coach Gene Mattingly acknowledged that the team’s gloves weren’t the sharpest at times when it came to covering the field against the Artesians’ (1-0) bats and the run support wasn’t what they wanted it to be. He still picked a few positives that stood out, such as the team’s continued effort to try for plays and keep pressure on Martinsville until the end.
“We did some good things,” said Mattingly. “I think we played hard. We didn’t get some timely hits but their pitchers did a really nice job. We weren’t clean defensively, that’s on us.”
Martinsville senior center fielder started the first inning with a leadoff single. Junior starting pitcher followed up with another single, but the Raiders were able to turn his hit into a forceout play at second for their first out. Next up was junior first baseman Josh Ham, who lined-out to senior center fielder Tucker Schank for out number two. But senior shortstop Jordan Reed was able to clobber a pitch from Southridge starter Logan Seger way out into center field over a sprinting Schank to for an RBI triple that brought in Dodson. The Raiders would get the next out against sophomore third baseman Braxton Wilson, but the Artesians left the top of the first with a 1-0 lead.
Next up was Southridge’s first turn at the plate. Schank led things off with a walk, but things got interesting after he reached first base. With a decent lead off the bag, Schank took off for second base during sophomore shortstop Colson Montgomery’s at-bat. Dodson overthrew his pickoff attempt to second, which allowed Schank to take off once again for third base.
Again the throw to third base was off the mark, and Schank saw an opportunity to take home plate. Schank was halfway home by the time Wilson collected the ball and threw it in. As the ball reached home plate, it looked like Schank slid in and beat the throw to freshman catcher Andrew Payton, but the home plate umpire called Schank out at the plate. Mattingly went straight to the ump for an explanation, and the official motioned that Payton tagged Schank in his helmet before he cleared the plate. The situation was compounded by a subsequent strikeout from Montgomery and a strikeout from junior first baseman Conner Oxley to end the inning.
That wouldn’t be the last of questionable call witnessed during the game. With two outs in the top of the second inning, Artesians senior right fielder TJ McGraw decided to take a risk and make for second plate like a bandit in the night. Raiders sophomore catcher caught Seger’s pitch and gunned it out to second base. It was close, but it looked like Chase beat McGraw to second base for the out. But the infield umpire saw it differently and rewarded McGraw with second base. Mattingly once again went out to the umpire, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. However, McGraw would be thrown out shortly after as he tried to make a run for home plate, as senior left fielder Patrick Sander lasered in his throw from the outfield to Taylor.
The third inning saw the Artesians get back on the scoreboard, as Reed was able to connect for an RBI double with two outs and drove in Dodson for a 2-0 lead. But the Raiders would respond in the bottom of the inning with a two-out run of their own thanks to an RBI single from Oxley that brought in junior courtesy runner Trevor Hunefeld to make it a 2-1 game.
But the fifth and sixth innings proved to be the Raiders downfall. With two outs once again at the top of the fifth, Wilson was able to make first base and move Dodson to third after a fielding error from Montgomery. Taylor then tried to pickoff Dodson as he led off third base, but the throw got past sophomore third baseman Ethan Bell, which allowed Dodson to score the third run for Martinsville. Two more runs came in the sixth as a wild pitch from Bell scored Hoppel and a RBI single from Reed drove in Dodson for a 5-1 lead.
The Raiders didn’t go quietly, as Schank was able steal home plate in the bottom of the seventh for the team’s second run. But a double play on Oxley and Hunefeld ended the game and any attempts for last-minute heroics.
Dodson (1-0, 1.40 ERA) finished with three hits, one earned run, two walks, and eight strikeouts in five innings. Wilson finished the last two innings with two hits, one earned run, two walks, and a strikeout. Reed went 3-for-4 with a double, triple, and three RBI. Dodson went 3-for-4 with four runs.
Seger (0-1, 3.50 ERA) pitched four innings, struck out one, and allowed two hits for two earned runs. Weston Allen, Ethan Bell, and Wes Keusch finished the other three innings and combined for four hits, three runs (two earned), three walks, and a strikeout. Taylor went 1-for-2 with an RBI double and two walks. Schank went 1-for-3 with a run, a walk, and two stolen bases.
For Mattingly, this first game was a demonstration that the Raiders need more on the field practice. He categorized the mistakes he saw as the aggressive, physical kind that can be solved with more repetitions during the week. He also thinks the hitting will improve as well; for Mattingly and the team their first game was not a cause for major concern this early.
“It’s a long season,” said Mattingly. “We’re not going to panic, we’re just going to go back to work and figure out how to get better.”
“It’s the first game out, we’re still putting things together,” added Seger. “We have to keep grinding, I’m still feeling confident for this year.”
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