Baseball: Pitchers settling in for Tigers
Allowing 13 runs and committing four errors in a loss to Holy Angels two weeks ago must have left a bad taste in the mouth of the Farmington baseball team.
Since then, the Tigers have allowed just 11 runs and committed six errors over a span of five games. They won just three of those five contests, but the improved defense and more reliable starting pitching have been pleasant sights and provided reasons to be hopeful for the future for head coach Mike Winters.
"The key to these games has been pitching. We used four pitchers in our four conference games last week," he said. "They did a great job of getting ahead of hitters and keeping our defense comfortable."
The Tigers had five miscues in splitting with Northfield last Tuesday, but came back and played errorless ball in a 7-1, 2-0 sweep of Chanhassen last Thursday. One error led to an unearned run that turned out to be the final margin in a 3-2 loss at Zumbrota-Mazeppa Friday afternoon.
"We came out a little flat, maybe a little mentally drained from the two conference doubleheaders," Winters said. "We didn't play terrible, just not good enough to win. The few mistakes we committed were costly."
Austin Martinson took the loss, pitching three innings and allowing three runs. Kevin Olund pitched three scoreless innings of relief and struck out five.
Leadoff hitter Johnny Dittman and Spencer Merle provided two hits apiece for the Tigers. Jordan Lugowski added an RBI single.
The pitching of Spencer Merle and Jake Lipinski took care of Chanhassen last Thursday.
Merle allowed a run on three hits in a complete-game victory in Game 1 and Lipinski tossed a five-hit shutout of his own in Game 2 to finish off the sweep.
The Tigers took a 3-0 lead in the first inning of Game 1 thanks to three Chanhassen errors and hits by Merle and Nick Schoening. Merle finished with a pair of hits and reached base four times.
Schoening, Eckert, Olund, Lugowski and Jordan Decroock all drove in runs.
The offense produced just four hits in Game 2, with two more coming from Merle. Kyle Mayer added an RBI single.
"We combined for just 11 hits in the two wins, but we were very opportunistic,"?Winters said.
The Tigers overcame a 4-1 deficit with four runs in the bottom of the fifth last Tuesday against Northfield.
"We still need to fix some mental things, but overall I was very pleased with the way we played,"?Winters said. "Both teams made some great plays and hit the ball well."
Dittman, Eckert, Merle and Olund sparked the rally with four straight singles and all four came around to score. Lugowski also contributed an RBI single.
Dittman, Merle, Olund and Zach Speikers each supplied two of the team's 11 hits.
JD Hinks went the distance on the mound and scattered 10 hits to pick up the win.
The Raiders scored three runs in the first inning of Game 2 and held on to earn the split with a 4-1 win.
Landon Nielson drove in the Tigers' lone run in the fourth inning.
Jordan Beschorner settled in after the first and allowed three earned over six innings.
The Tigers (5-7) close out the Missota Conference season with doubleheaders against Chaska and Shakopee this week.