Chiles beats Rickards in pitcher's duel

Chiles beats Rickards in pitcher's duel


Chiles beats Rickards in pitcher's duel


Good pitching beats good hitting.

Long a baseball adage, it was a staple in Tuesday night’s game between Chiles and host Rickards.

Behind two unearned runs and only one hard hit, the Timberwolves escaped Rickards’ confines with a 2-0 victory. Chiles senior Connor Jahn pitched five innings of two-hit ball and struck out eight Raiders to run his record to 2-0, while the Timberwolves improved to 5-0 in the early season.

“It’s baseball, it’s a crazy game,” veteran Chiles coach Dick Steed said. “We’d been swinging the bat pretty good coming in. Their pitcher tonight kept us off balance and we couldn’t get good swings on him, so we had to play a little small ball. It was all about pitching and defense. We pitched well and played good defense behind him. That’s what got it done tonight.”

Rickards righthander Wyatt Rivers was the hard-luck loser, surrendering two bunt hits and a double over 6-1/3 innings of effective work. Rivers (2-1) struck out four, but an error on a potential inning-ending double play pushed Chiles’ first run across in the third.

After Timberwolves outfielder Alex Vergara doubled down the left field line in the top of the seventh, Rivers was relieved and a subsequent passed ball and wild pitch added an insurance run.

“You can’t give them the runs,” Rickards coach Brian Kelley said. “We gave them both runs. Unearned, routine double play, couple passed balls. But you’ve got to hit the ball. Doesn’t matter who’s up there, you gotta hit the ball.”

Rickards (4-2) picked up four hits, including a double from Kaycee Reese, but it could not get the big hit when needed. That included a bases-loaded opportunity in the second inning, but Jahn managed to get a third strikeout in the inning to work out of the jam.

“We had chances in the second and third,” Kelley said. “If we get the big hit with two outs and go up 4-0, 5-0, Chiles doesn’t want to lose to Rickards. They may tighten up a little bit. That was a big couple innings where we couldn’t get runs across.”

Jahn struck out the side in the fourth, then added two more in the fifth before departing with a narrow lead. Not something he’d seen in his first two starts when Chiles’ offense pounded the ball.

“It’s really fun,” Jahn said about being in a pitcher’s duel. “I love going against great hitters. Having a great defense behind me helps a lot. But going out one-on-one with that other pitcher is exciting.”

While Rivers displayed a strong fastball, he ran up a high pitch count battling against Chiles’ hitters. Jahn found offspeed pitches to be effective against the free-swinging nature of Rickards, locating for strikes to set up his fastball.

“This was good tonight,” Steed said. “He had real good command of his breaking ball. But he’s sneaky fast, too. He’s got two pitches that when he’s dialed in, he’s tough, throwing from the left side, too. He gave us a chance


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