The Ballard High School baseball team is still looking for answers during a brutal early-season schedule.
The Bruins, still trying to find their bearing, tumbled against one of the best teams in Indiana Friday night, losing to Zionsville 6-3 in the Super Preps event at Ballard.
Zionsville (5-0), ranked No. 2 in Indiana’s Class 4-A, got a quick jump on the Bruins, the top-ranked team in Kentucky.
“We’re trying to figure out what will work for us,” said Ballard coach David Trager. “We’re trying different things. … Of course we want to win but part of the process is finding our identity. We’ve enjoyed playing some of the best teams in the state and the region, if not the country.”
The Eagles scored twice in the first inning as the Bruins’ generosity got the best of them.
Zionsville’s Nolan Elsbury reached on a throwing error by Ballard shortstop Jake Snider, and then Jack Pilcher drew a walk.
Ballard starting pitcher Tyler Horsley then became erratic and catcher Nicholas Lee couldn’t keep the ball in front of him.
As a result, Elsbury and Pilcher both scored after a slew of passed balls and wild pitches – five combined – and the Eagles surged ahead 2-0.
“In the first inning, we gave them those two runs,” Trager said. “We’re our own worst enemy right now. We had too many dropped balls, too many passed balls. We’ve got to clean that up.
“It’s the small details we need to focus on to get us on the right track,” Trager said.
In the bottom of the first inning, the Bruins got one of those runs back after Jordan Gunter singled and reached third base after two groundouts.
Ballard’s Jordon Adell next hit an infield pop-up and in the heavy, swirling wind, Zionsville pitcher Nick Prather couldn’t make the catch.
As he watched the play at the plate, Adell hesitated before finally racing to first base, narrowly beating the throw as Gunter scored.
Adell, a junior who has committed to play at the University of Louisville, was taken out of the game.
“First of all, Jordon (Adell) is an unbelievable kid,” Trager said. “He is an unbelievably talented player. There are philosophies and principles we’re going to stick with. … Everybody is going to be held accountable to sticking to those standards.
“Jordon knew exactly what was going on,” Trager said. “I have to give him a lot of credit. … That was a pure teaching moment – a learning moment for him. He was very respectful about (the decision to take him out) and the next game we’ll have him out on the field.”
For the Bruins, things didn’t get much better.
In the third inning, Zionsville increased its lead to 3-1 as Prather hit a home run to center field.
Ballard cut the deficit to 3-2 in the bottom of the third inning as Blake Frost singled home Snider, who had walked two batters earlier.
Zionsville stretched its lead to 6-2 with three runs in the top of the fourth inning, ignited by a two-run home run by Steven Damm.
The Bruins added one run in the bottom of the seventh inning as U of L signee Snider came through with a two-out single to left field, scoring pinch-runner Wil Barman.