HENDERSONVILLE Visiting Father Ryan did what it could to give Pope John Paul II High’s baseball team a second victory in the teams’ three-game series.
However, the Knights were unable to take advantage of eight Irish errors and five passed balls, suffering a 6-5 loss at ServPro Field on Tuesday evening.
PJP II was limited to three base hits in the contest, with junior Ben Brooks – a University of Memphis commitment – collecting two of those.
“I don’t think I’ve ever coached a game where the opponent made eight errors and we didn’t win,” Knight head coach Michael Brown said. “We didn’t produce when they gave them to us.”
Six of the eight errors were committed by Father Ryan senior shortstop Brendan Grainger, with four of those coming in the second inning. PJP II (2-5 overall, 1-1 in the Division II-Class AA East/Middle Region) was only able to capitalize for two runs in that frame as the Knights had a baserunner retired while attempting to steal second base.
PJP II had a runner picked off at first base in consecutive innings, losing baserunners in each of the fourth and fifth frames. The host squad failed to score in either inning.
“We tried to steal a base with no sign,” Brown said. “We got picked off twice, ran ourselves out of an inning, and we get a couple of balls dropped over our head out here (in leftfield) and made a couple of errors. Neither team played very well, but when we made the mistakes, (Father Ryan) got hits.”
Junior Mason Hickman – a Vanderbilt University commit – drove in a run with a groundout to give the Knights a 3-2 lead in the third inning, but Father Ryan (1-4, 1-1) scored twice in the top of the fourth, thanks to two doubles and a single. The Irish never trailed again.
The PJP II offense made things tight again in the seventh as Brooks singled and later scored on one of three passed balls in the inning. Sophomore Jake Rucker also scored on a passed ball to cut Father Ryan’s lead to a run, and the Knights drew two walks to load the bases with two outs before Garrett Taylor’s infield pop-up ended the game.
“It’s just inexcusable,” Brown said. “When people make mistakes, you’ve got to pounce. We either made baserunning mistakes or didn’t get hits. We’ve got a lot of puppies – a lot of young guys – and only three pitchers on this team that have pitched in a varsity game when the season started. We knew there were probably going to be a few bumps early, but there’s really no excuse to lose this game.”
>> The Knights won Monday’s series opener at Father Ryan by a 4-2 margin.
Hickman pitched a complete game, striking out 12 in collecting the victory.
PJP II scored three runs in the third inning to take the lead for good as neither team scored over the final four innings.
Senior Ryan Hatten – a Virginia Military Institute signee – singled in Brooks, and junior Jack Shuttleworth singled in classmate Pace Dempsey. Then, Taylor’s sacrifice bunt allowed Rucker to score.
Wednesday’s game at Father Ryan concludes the series.
Reach Chris Brooks at email@example.com or at 615-575-7118. Follow him on Twitter @CB_SumnerSports.
FATHER RYAN 020 202 0 – 6 8 8
POPE JOHN PAUL II 021 000 2 – 5 3 2
Jack White, Jake Francescon (4) and Seamus O’Connell; Dalton Heath, Nate Pianto (5), Jake Rucker (6) and Jack Shuttleworth. WP – Francescon. LP – Heath. Records: Father Ryan 1-4 overall, 1-1 in Division II-Class AA East/Middle Region; Pope John Paul II 2-5, 1-1.