Errors prove costly in Ranger loss

Photos by Daniel Vasta/The Herald
Forest Park's Gavin Knust pitches during Tuesday's baseball game in Ferdinand. While Knust had a solid night on the mound for the Rangers, Castle defeated Forest Park 7-4 after a few errors in the sixth inning allowed the Knights to create some breathing room. For more photos from the game, click here.


FERDINAND — In the game of baseball, there’s not much room for mistakes or mishaps — especially when you’re playing a team ranked in the top five of the largest class in the state of Indiana.

Forest Park trailed just 3-1 to Class 4A No. 3 Castle heading into the sixth inning but a few costly two-out errors allowed the Knights to score four runs in the inning and expand their lead to 7-1. While the Rangers did add two runs in the bottom of the sixth and one in the seventh, the comeback bid fell short as Castle was victorious 7-4.

“When you’re playing a good team like Castle and you make two mental errors that cost you four runs, you don’t have a chance,” Forest Park head coach Jarred Howard said. “We have a good enough team to win these ball games, if we take care of the little things then we’ll win a lot of ball games.”

Facing senior Blake Ciuffettelli, Castle’s ace on the mound, the Rangers (4-6) got on the scoreboard first right away in the first inning. Junior pitcher Gavin Knust belted a two-out triple and sophomore third baseman Gage Hasenour drove him in with an RBI single on the ensuing play to put Forest Park up 1-0.

Castle (10-1) didn’t make their way onto the scoreboard until the third inning as sophomore center fielder Blake Herrmann led things off with an RBI single and later scored on a throwing error to tie things up at 1-1. The Knights took the lead on and RBI groundout from senior designated hitter Matt Moore later in the inning to make it 2-1 Knights.

While the Rangers did notch a couple of hits in the fourth inning in the form of two singles from junior first baseman Zach Wahl and junior second baseman Hunter Helming, Forest Park couldn’t quite break the scoring column again. Castle expanded its lead to 3-1 courtesy of an RBI single from Ciuffettelli in the fifth inning but their big inning would happen in their next at-bats.

Sophomore right fielder Jon Lawson kicked the sixth inning off with a single and he was then bunted over to second base by junior catcher Evyn King. Freshman shortstop then drove in Lawson with an RBI single to make it 4-1 but Herrmann hit into a forceout the next play for two outs in the inning. However, the next two Knight batters reached on errors which allowed one run to score to make it 5-1 and then a two-RBI single from Ciuffetelli made it 7-1.

“Two of the errors we had tonight were just mental errors,” Howard said. “Winners learn from their mistakes — if we learn from our mistakes then we’ll win some ball games.”

Trailing 7-1 entering the 6th inning, Forest Park wasn’t just going to go down without a fight. Senior left fielder Elliott Rothgerber reached base on a walk, Knust reached on a single and Hasenour was walked to load the bases with no outs. Helming drove in a run on an RBI single that made it 7-2 while junior Reece Verkamp drove in an RBI courtesy of a bases-loaded walk to make it 7-3.

However, the Rangers left the bases loaded to end the inning.

“We have to do a better job with runners in scoring position,” Howard said. “For the most part we’ve been fine but we just have to be able to get over the hump. We’re a good enough team to win, we have the pitching to win.”

The Forest Park Rangers watch while Aaron Hurst waits to bat during Tuesday's baseball game in Ferdinand. For more photos from the game, click here.

After holding the Knights at bay in the top of the seventh, the Rangers had one final chance in the bottom of the seventh inning to try and mount a comeback. While freshman shortstop Drew Howard did get a leadoff double and later scored on an RBI double from Knust to make it 7-4, the comeback bid ended there as Forest Park left a runner stranded at second base to end the inning.

Gavin Knust finished the game 3-of-4 at the plate with a double, triple and an RBI. On the mound, he pitched 5 and ⅔ innings while giving up seven hits and striking out three. Hunter Helming also had a pair of hits for the Rangers and drove in one run.

While the errors were a big negative on the night for the Rangers, the biggest positive was that Forest Park never gave up and continued to try and mount a comeback until the very final strike. Even though it didn’t produce a victory on Tuesday night, the effort and drive didn’t go unnoticed.

“We’re still getting better and these guys will never just lay down and give up,” Howard said. “If you watch us every game you’ll realize that we never give up. We always find a way to come back but we shouldn’t put ourselves in these positions.”

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