By Alexander Haynes
Heading to the coast this weekend to play the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers was destined to be a dubious process of outscoring one another; and as destined, the fireworks were in full display. Only the Chanticleers posted the one-sided display, outscoring the Bobcats 26-6 using the fabled slugging percentage power to win all three games. The Bobcats’ process was a tedious picture with brevity in batting chance and opportunity. After 29 runners were left on base in the series, the Bobcats’ inconsistency and systemic futile attempts in the batter’s box ended opportunity before it began. In the shortest summation, the Chanticleers pitchers were defining the game from pitch one to 100.
Shutout on Friday
The Bobcats began Friday’s game with a functional first inning – Jonathan Ortega did lead-off fouling out to first base, but Derek Scheible and Luke Sherley walked subsequently thereafter. Then, Jason Bilous began pitching straight toward the Bobcats’ regression points. Jaylen Hubbard struck out swinging on an 0-3 count, and Dylan Paul sent a dribbling ground ball on a 1-1 count. The game, thus after, was Bilous modeling that style through 4.1 innings.
The Bobcats actually had puncturing at-bats, which is a hard point to swallow considering the lack of results. Bilous had to throw 23 pitches to get through the second, allowing two singles. But just as before, the Bobcats tried to power through at-bats instead of copying the success of functioning singles or doubles. The entire game was watching two batting styles being entirely incohesive for the Bobcats; Bilous had six strikeouts, but also walked seven and was forced out after 112 pitches in an exhausting 4.1 innings. Matt Eardensohn was in charge of finishing the last 4.2 in 67 pitches, facing only 15 batters.
The pitching from Connor Reich allowed ample opportunity to the Chanticleers’ batters. For the better part of 4.1 innings, he also was stable despite allowing two walks and seven hits. But, the fifth inning came, and Reich had no option but to end his outing early after five runs.
Drab and dull defined the bull pen. In the last innings of the game, they allowed three runs, but posted only one strikeout in 16 batters faced. The juxtaposition, again, was every mistake the Bobcats pitching staff made was exacerbated by the Chanticleers’ ingenuity, while the Bobcats were depressingly dwindling away hope, losing 0-8.
Advancing to Nowhere
Lack of advancing runners in baseball implicates a lack of rounding out the batting lineup. And on the first game of Saturday’s double header, the Bobcats were emblazoned by a lack of function. Only three hits and two walks were netted, leaving the box score hauntingly whelming.
They did manage to score three runs, with Jacob Almendarez obtaining the first RBI after being hit by a pitch, and Ortega recording the second with a walk. Yet, no scoring opportunity came from an actual hit or austere walk. Paul’s homerun off a 3-2 count in the seventh inning was the sole relief point the Bobcats could create their own success.
By adding context to the first two runs scored, the Bobcats were clearly not building their own plate approach. The first inning was three batters up, and three batters down. The third inning took four batters after Luke Sherley had a quaint seven pitch battle ending in a life-giving walk. The afore mentioned two-run, second inning was an awkward travesty of the Chanticleers own doing.
The inning began on a throwing error from short stop, allowing Paul to reach. Hubbard then was hit by a pitch with Mickey Scott shuttling the two along with a sacrifice bunt. Felipe Rodriguez and Almendarez were hit by pitches back to back. Walking Ortega caused the second run. A total of zero hits scored two runs. The only other inning with some production was the fifth featuring Hubbard and Scott being hit by pitches back to back; then again, a resultant of improper pitching.
Unfortunately, the Bobcats’ pitching was similarly frustrating. Zachary Leigh and Broc Bosse combined for a total of 159 pitches and 37 batters faced while working through 6.1 innings. Brandon Lewis received the middle stretch, and while giving up no runs, had to labor through 28 pitches in his 1.1 innings of relief.
Leigh may have been pitching too far interior, unwilling to change his stance against the powering Chanticleers who were clearly taking advantage of his style. Despite five strikeouts, he allowed six runs and only forced four fly-outs and four ground-outs; eight of 12 batters received a hit, including two home runs. The Bobcats had no life in the 3-11 loss.
Runners Left on an Island
The first game on Saturday, the Bobcats were wholly bereft of purpose; the second game, they held purpose intact, then began isolating everyone on an island. In spite of nine hits, they left 10 batters twiddling their thumbs on the base path. Even worse, Nicholas Fraze and the pitching staff, while collapsing on their own right, also were left without support as the defense committed six egregious errors. The game, for a lack of better terms, was a cartoon epidemic.
The first Bobcat score came after Hubbard was hit by a pitch and Derek Scheible pulled a double to get on base. A passed ball was the factor needed to score Hubbard two pitches later. Sherley and Ryan Newman began executing with a single and double in the fifth to put together the best inning of the series. Paul was credited with the RBI, despite the fact it came on an in-field out and a frozen in-field. Hubbard singled, bringing the score within one (3-4) and giving ample hope the series could be recovered.
However, the defensive mess taking place was overshadowing any mental vibrancy given by the fifth inning production. The first two Chanticleer runs were due to a throwing error on a relay from the outfield, immediately followed by a hit by pitch. The next batter took an audaciously developing 2-2 battle to first base after an error in the infield left the Bobcats spinning in mistakes. Brayden Theriot replaced Fraze shortly after, only to see his first batter dink in a chaos inducing in-field hit, scoring another runner. In the third inning, the Chanticleers again took to embarrassing the Bobcats by scoring four runs on four errors and one hit.
The fifth was no better; in another two-error inning, the Chanticleers scored on a relay error from outfield and a wild pitch. The sixth inning run being the resultant of actual hitting production was a welcome relief, even if a sigh of depression the bleeding would never end in the 3-7 loss.
In summation, the Bobcats leaving their batters on islands and inducing their own pain with fielding errors is a quaint way to end a drab series. The Bobcats had a chance to improve their 30th ranking; a showing to prove they can battle with the best. And in the end, they simply caved to the manipulation of other teams, displaying the team has work to do in refining their convictions.
Featured image by Giovanni Gilmore.