Split doesn’t satisfy Wildcats
It wasn't all together a bad day -- heck, De Soto even won a game and held its share of the Frontier League lead. The taste lingering from Monday's doubleheader was sour, however, and the mood following a 8-7 Game 2 loss to Prairie View was dismal.
De Soto, 8-3, won the first game 10-6, but let slip a 6-1 fifth-inning lead in the second game.
There were good, even great performances in both games. No matter how perfect the early innings went, performances in the late one proved decisive in both games, however.
Pitcher Dustin Grimes entered in the sixth inning of the first game to close out a solid showing by junior Brady Maasen.
Maasen allowed five runs in five innings, but avoided much more serious trouble in the second by striking two out with the bases loaded. He went on to strand runners in scoring position in the third, fourth and fifth innings as well.
Grimes then allowed just one run in the final two innings. Johan Santana it wasn't, but the pair combined to avoid trouble and the big inning by compiling eight strikeouts.
Tyler Farmer was even better from the mound in the second game. He whiffed four in the first five innings, coerced a double play to make up for an error in the second and had a 6-1 lead going into the fifth.
"Tyler pitched outstanding," Cat coach Joel Thaemert, coaching in his first season, said. "That's the Tyler Farmer of old, the one from last year, or at least so I hear."
De Soto was cruising, but a single, two walks and a hit batsman quickly changed that. Prairie View scored two in the fifth before reliever Jerin Riffel could bail De Soto out of trouble.
The Buffalos then scored two more in the sixth to make it a 6-5 game. A walk to leadoff the seventh helped seal the deal. A single tied the game and two more walks followed by a sacrifice fly helped Prairie View build an 8-6 lead, more than enough to weather De Soto's one-run bottom of the seventh.
"The downfall was that we got comfortable," Thaemert said. "You could feel it. We got comfortable."
No doubt some timely outs could have salvaged the second game, but a sudden absence of Wildcat offense was also responsible.
De Soto had 10 runners on base through the first nine outs. It had just three on through the next nine when the Cats were theoretically facing inferior and worn out pitchers.
Jerod Bader singled with one out in the seventh, then scored on an Aaron Hanson single, but it wasn't nearly enough. The three Wildcats that came to the plate in the seventh all struck out looking.
"We had three reverse Ks to end the game," Thaemert said with a hint of disbelief. "We just have to compete better than that. We struck out a lot in key moments."
There were bright moments in the first game, and in a Thursday doubleheader, which De Soto took from Anderson County, 13-1, 6-2.
Riffel scored in each of his first two trips to the plate in the first game against Prairie View. Erik Hill picked up two RBIs with a single to left-center and Hanson's first RBI of the day capped a five-run De Soto fourth inning.
All that seemed like a distant memory to Thaemert as he spoke after the games, however.
"We have to win that game," he said. If you want to be good, you have to find a way to hold on. We didn't hold on and we didn't build on it earlier either."
Only the first game of each doubleheader counts toward the league record, and while De Soto has lost three times this season, all came in the expendable game. The Cats are tied atop the league with Ottawa, each sitting on 6-0 records. Louisburg, with a 6-2 league record and No. 10 ranking in the latest Kansas Coaches Association pool, looms one spot behind.
De Soto squares off for the league lead Friday at Ottawa in a twice-rescheduled game. It travels Monday to Louisburg