The Rams (1-3) gave up five runs in the first inning Friday afternoon in the first game of a three-game series at the Pacers (4-0) of USC Aiken in a 9-4 loss.
In that first inning, the scoring started with a single by outfielder Luke Westerberg of the Pacers that drove home outfielder Jose Banilla to make the score 1-0 Pacers. Westerberg advanced home after outfielder Mitchell Price launched a double down the left field line, making it 2-0 Pacers.
Catcher Zach Moon also doubled to right center, bringing home Price to drive in the third run of the inning.
Later in the inning, sophomore starting pitcher A.J. Stead allowed a run with a bases loaded walk to infielder Skylar Mercado, increasing the Pacers’ lead to 4-0. Bonilla, up again in the inning, was then hit by a pitch by Stead with the bases loaded that allowed infielder Tyler Ammerman to come in to score.
After one inning of play, the Rams trailed 5-0.
Following the game, through email, Coach McCarty spoke about how the team has seemed to really struggle with getting out of the first inning so far this season:
“Not sure why the first has been such a problem for us so far. It’s been on the defense and pitching side that we’ve struggled the most early on. Nerves you could say but lack of focus from the start needs to be better. Play with confidence.”
Thanks to a wild pitch by starting pitcher William Ard of the Pacers in the fourth inning, senior infielder Mike Brown of the Rams advanced from third base to home to give the Rams their first run of the game. They now trailed 5-1 going into the bottom of the fourth inning.
That would be as close as they got though, as catcher Zach Moon again came through for the Pacers, launching a moon shot three-run homerun that brought in Price and Westerberg. With the score now firmly in their favor, the Pacers had the separation room they were looking for.
It was now an 8-1 Pacers’ lead.
With a sacrifice fly by Brown of the Rams in the fifth inning, senior infielder Jacob Carney reached home, cutting the deficit to 8-2 in favor of the Pacers.
Catcher/first baseman Brian Parreira countered Brown’s sacrifice fly with one of his own that brought in Price to score again, augmenting the Pacers’ lead to 9-2.
The Rams did fight to the end, however, which made the score look more respectable. In the seventh inning, senior outfielder Ron Farley blasted a single to left field, driving home fellow senior outfielder JJ Sarty to cut the deficit to 9-3. Sarty delivered in the ninth inning with a double to right center field that allowed senior infielder Tyler Piccolo to come home and score, which made the final score 9-4 in favor of the Pacers.
In the losing effort, Stead went four innings, struck out three, walked five, and allowed eight runs on six hits.
William Ard of the Pacers received the win with his two strike out performance. He went 1.2 innings and did not allow a runner to reach first base.
McCarty, through email after the game, talked about the Rams’ performance and where they can improve for Saturday’s game:
“At times we battled and times we competed. Need to put it all together. It’s early in season and playing top competition in the country. Just gotta keep battling and stay focused.”
“We just have to play with confidence and know we can compete with the best teams in the country. Play our game and battle for nine innings.”
The Rams will look to bounce back after this performance when they take the field Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. in the second game of this three-game series.
Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org