GLOUSTER — Unfortunately for the Green Bobcats, their growing pains —all baseball season long and especially on Saturday — were there.
And — despite scoring two runs apiece in their opening and closing at-bats in their Division IV sectional semifinal at Trimble — those early, midway-through and game-ending mistakes were simply too much to overcome the traditionally-strong Tomcats.
In the end, the 18th-seeded Bobcats bowed out of 2021 at 3-18 —as 15th-seeded Trimble topped Green 14-4 in a six-inning mercy-rule affair inside a sunsoaked Glouster Park.
The Tomcats, a baseball bunch with a football flavor to it as several Trimble players play both sports for longtime football and baseball boss Phil Faires — toted the scoreboard in every inning against Green.
The now 9-14 Tomcats tallied the five runs they needed for the win in the first frame — as their first six hitters reached base and batted around off Green senior starting pitcher Levi Singleton.
Trimble combined for four hits and three Bobcat errors for those five runs, as four were earned —including the opening point off Tabor Lackey’s two-run triple to right field.
Blake Guffey, the starting and winning pitcher who worked the first three and 2/3 innings for the Tomcats, tacked on a run-scoring triple of his own —and the Tomcats took a 5-2 lead after one and doubled it to 10-2 following five.
The hosts scored single runs in the second, fourth and fifth —sandwiched around a two-spot in the third.
It was through three innings that the Bobcats made all five of their errors — as Green was playing, following a long bus ride on Saturday morning to Athens County, its fifth game from last week.
“Trimble put the ball in play and just did a great job of compounding our mistakes. We had plenty of chances to get a hit or make a play or put the ball in play and make the game more interesting,” said first-year Green coach David Shoupe. “But when you make those defensive mistakes early on and even late, they are hard to overcome.”
Indeed they were, as Singleton pitched the opening four innings and allowed nine of Trimble’s 14 runs and 11 of the Tomcats’ 17 hits.
Singleton struck out six, as his only walk — to Trimble cleanup Cole Wright —resulted in the fourth-frame counter and made it 9-2.
Dustin Sprouse pitched the final two innings for the Bobcats, and allowed five earned runs on six hits — including Trimble’s final four runs on four hits with his lone walk and one hit batter for the mercy-rule enforcement in the sixth.
Green got on the scoreboard first and took a 2-0 lead —when Singleton and fellow senior Wiley Sanders reached on errors, sandwiched around Nathan Brannigan getting hit by a Guffey pitch.
Singleton scored on the error off Wiley’s at-bat, and Sprouse singled to right to cross Brannigan.
But from there, Guffey and reliever Bryce Downs grounded Green to just one more basehit and nine stranded baserunners —as Guffey gave up a single to Singleton on his final Bobcat batter.
In the second, Guffey walked a pair to lead off the inning, including Braxton Conchafsky who actually walked three times.
But the junior Trimble ace stranded them at first and second —just as Downs did to Conchafsky and Singleton in the fourth following his taking over for Guffey.
In between in the third, Joe Webb walked, but Guffey erased him as the Tomcats turned a 6-4-3 double play.
The Bobcats battled to within 10-4 in the sixth when Conchafsky walked to lead off, Singleton was hit by a pitch with one out, and both scored on a two-out throwing error off another Sanders at-bat.
But the Tomcats immediately answered with their final four runs, and ended the Green careers of seniors Sanders, Singleton, Sprouse and Webb.
Just two years ago, when the last baseball season took place, the Bobcats tied Clay for the Southern Ohio Conference Division I championship —under the late head coach Dan McDavid.
However, this year, Green was on a learning curve.
“We’re going through our growing pains. We’re very young and even with four seniors, we had only one (Singleton) who had any varsity experience. We made freshmen mistakes today, but we made those all year. But we’re going to be alright. These guys will work and learn, and we’ll be fine,” said Shoupe. “I am really proud of my four seniors. They all grinded it out.”
* * *
Green 200 002 — 4 2 5
Trimble 512 114 — 14 17 5
GHS: Levi Singleton 4IP, 9R, 8ER, 11H, 0HB, 1BB, 6K, 26BF; Dustin Sprouse 2IP, 5R, 5ER, 6H, 1HB, 1BB, 1K, 13 BF
THS: Blake Guffey 3 2/3 IP, 2ER, 1ER, 2H, 1HB, 4BB, 6K, 19BF; Bryce Downs 2 1/3IP, 2R, 0ER, 0H, 1HB, 1BB, 2K, 12BF
W — Blake Guffey; L — Levi Singleton
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved