Archive for Thursday, April 13, 2006

Inconsistency continues to slow baseball team

April 13, 2006

It's not as simple as starting slow or tiring early. Weather, wind or even the opponent can't explain it.

The De Soto baseball team is just inconsistent now, and one need look no further than the disturbing Jekyll and Hyde performance the Cats displayed Tuesday night to find the perfect example.

The Cats were embarrassed in the first game of a doubleheader at Baldwin, a five-inning, 14-3 rout. Ten Bulldogs walked in the game and De Soto gave up not one, but two grand slams.

Not an hour later, it was the Dogs that were yelping for help. De Soto crushed three home runs in the second game, hit up and down the lineup, pitched out of jams and won easily, 14-5.

The story was similar, but the exact opposite Friday as the Cats hosted Osawatomie. De Soto won 11-4 in the first game, but floundered, falling 10-1 in the second.

"If I had an answer, I'd bottle it up and be a millionaire," De Soto coach Steve Deghand said. "It comes down to throwing strikes, playing defense and hitting the baseball. If you're not doing two of the three or all three, it won't work out."

In the first game, the Cats had trouble managing even one of those three key elements, a fact perhaps even more confounding than the second game's offensive outburst.

Taylor Burnett, the team's second-best pitcher in terms of ERA and its top strikeout threat before the game, struck out the first three he faced.

He then walked the bases loaded twice and gave up two grand slams. A stiff breeze put just about anything airborne over the center-field fence -- outfielders for both teams spent much of the evening standing just four feet in front of the barrier -- but two grand slams?

"I don't have any answers," Deghand said. "We have to get more than an inning and a third from our ace.

"Everyone has a bad outing I'm sure he'll come back and throw it up in the next one."

As short and shocking as the first game was, the second game came as a mighty relief.

Tyler Farmer pitched all seven innings, but most impressive thing about his performance was his pitching with runners on base.

Burnett scored Farmer on a sacrifice fly in the third inning, tying the game at one. Baldwin answered, however. A pair of singles and a walk scored one run and another walk loaded. While Farmer attacked with strikes, not allowing the problem to compound any further, he did surrender two more runs, leaving De Soto in a 4-1 hole.

"That's what we needed. He was awesome," Deghand said of Farmer's ability to avoid the big inning. "This team showed us something in that they were down 4-1 in that second game after getting beat in the first one. They could have rolled over and died, but they didn't."

It was a short-lived deficit. Wildcat senior Kenny Price hit the team's second home run of the season -- Farmer hit one in the first game -- and the Cats added two more runs when Travis Crow laid down a sacrifice bunt and Baldwin threw the ball away.

Burnett supplied his first home run and De Soto scored seven runs, more than equaling Baldwin's effort.

"Of all the plays that sparked us in that inning, it seemed the one that did was when Travis laid that bunt down to move the runners over and they throw it away," Deghand said. "It gave us a little bit of life and showed those guys make mistakes too."

Truly defining the fickle nature of the nights' fortunes was Burnett's second game. He launched a three-run home run in the fourth, then came back with another two-run shot in the fifth.

Austin Bills singled to start the inning, scoring on a Jerod Bader sacrifice. Farmer then singled and scored on an error, Riley Pierce singled and Burnett lifted a ball over the centerfield fence and onto a neighboring softball field where it traveled halfway across that field before finally stopping.

"Being a senior, (Taylor) needs to step up to play and do those things," Deghand. "He came back after a horrible first game and won the second game. That's the sign of a leader. He had a heck of a performance."

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