Forest Park falls below .500

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Forest Park freshman Joel Bueltel (9) was 1-for-4 in Tuesday's 7-4 loss to Mt. Vernon, as he led off the bottom of the second here with a single. 

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

FERDINAND - A few things contributed to Forest Park's 7-4 loss to Mt. Vernon Tuesday night.

The Rangers (4-5, 1-3) committed seven errors against their Pocket Athletic Conference rival, as they dropped below .500 after starting the year 3-0. Forest Park held a 4-3 lead after four innings, but the Wildcats batted around to score four runs in the top of the fifth, all with two outs.

Such a loss left Rangers coach Jarred Howard not knowing where to go after this.

"We have to execute better," Howard said. "We have to know what we're doing with the ball before it's hit to us. We have to want the ball hit to us, we have to want to be at the plate with guys in scoring position."

Howard told the Herald that the the coaching staff needs to do a better job, too, because his players aren't prepared the right way - and he vowed to think about things when he went home Tuesday night. He knows that Forest Park has a good ballclub, but the team is not playing well right now.

"If you would've watched us the first four games, we threw strikes, we made plays and we put the ball in play when we needed to," he said. "In the last week, we have not made plays, and we haven't hit the ball. I know our guys can do it - it's just a matter of that they're going to have to figure it out."

The Rangers found a way to hang with Mt. Vernon earlier in the game when they came back to tie it, 2-2, in the bottom of the third, after being down, 2-0. They also notched a couple of runs in the bottom of the fourth when sophomore pitcher Clayton Weisheit, who took the loss, sent a ball into the outfield to score junior Caden Scherer and freshman Sage Stout. That gave Forest Park a 4-3 lead - its only one of the game.

However, despite taking the lead in the bottom of the fourth, another problem the Rangers encountered Tuesday night was that they stranded at least one runner in scoring position in each of the first six innings.

"We need to look to hit fastballs early in the count with runners in scoring position - we take too many pitches with runners in scoring position," Howard said. "We've talked about it the last couple of days, we worked on it yesterday, it's just when the runners are in scoring position, you have to hunt fastballs early, and you have to use all three swings. And we're not using all three swings.

"We're taking until we get two strikes and then look at a curveball or swing at a curveball in the dirt," he continued. "So, our approach is not good."

The Wildcats took the lead back for good when sophomore Zaine Lindauer knocked one into the outfield to score junior Tyler Brown and sophomore Aidan Watters for a 5-4 lead. Weisheit could not finish the inning, and his night was done after 4.2 innings. All seven of the runs the Wildcats scored were charged to him, but only three were earned. He fanned seven and walked one.

Freshman Reid Howard and senior Gage Hasenour came on in relief, and though Reid walked in a couple of runners, those were ones that he inherited from Weisheit.

Jarred believes his pitchers are doing a decent job, but reiterated the need to make plays. The Rangers will try to get back to .500 on Thursday at Boonville, another PAC rival.

"We have to put pressure on the defense," Jarred said. "We don't hit the ball well enough right now to put any pressure on the defense."




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