Carroll baseball falls in Division II regional semifinal

File Photo
File Photo

MASON – Hitting a batter with the first pitch of the game could be a harbinger of bad things to come.

In the case of Carroll against Marengo Highland in Saturday’s Division II baseball regional semifinal at Mason, it was a bit of déjà vu.

The Patriots resorted to the error-filled early days of their season, committing five while also issuing six walks and hitting two batters on the way to an ugly 9-3 loss.

“Was that indicative of the way we’ve played in the tournament?” coach Mike Sheets repeated the question. “No. Was it indicative of the way we played early in the season? Yes. We averaged six errors a game for the first 10 or 12 games of the season. We walked six and hit two, and all of them either scored or drove in runs.”

Carroll finishes 13-15 in Sheets’s final season after coaching for 26 years at his alma mater. The Patriots had won nine of their last 10 and 10 of their last 12 going into Saturday’s game against the Fighting Scots, who improved to 29-2.

Highland is scheduled to meet Badin in Sunday’s regional championship game at 11 a.m. at Mason. The game time was moved up to accommodate Highland’s graduation.

Senior Steven Chapman (6-2) went 3-for-3 and scored two runs, but as Carroll’s starting pitcher, he hit a batter and committed two of the Patriots’ errors.

The Patriots also were hampered by a wrist injury suffered by senior left fielder Tyler Hassink in their district championship win over Ross. Hassink, who was hitting .329, still could catch the ball, but he couldn’t swing, so Sheets dropped him from sixth to ninth in the batting order.

“We hid that,” Sheets said. “We told him if he got a walk, take it. If he got hit by a pitch, take it. He could still catch the ball. When we got behind big, we took him out.”

Carroll and Highland went eight days between games since winning district championships on May 27. Saturday’s region semifinals were delayed two days by rain which left the field unplayable until Saturday.

One Chapman wild pitch, two Highland hits, three Carroll errors and four straight walks added up to an 11-batter five-run Fighting Scot third inning. Chapman committed a throwing error on a pickoff attempt and then dropped a sacrifice bunt when he slipped on the grass. Freshman first baseman Lucas Dunn misplayed a possible inning-ending soft liner on which he appeared to be undecided on how to play it before Chapman and junior right-handed relief pitcher John Lawhorn combined to walk four straight batters

The Patriots got two runs back in the third. Sophomore shortstop Michael Duckro drew a leadoff walk, went to third on Chapman’s one-out single and scored on the back end of a double steal. Junior third baseman Caleb Cavender drove in Chapman.

Highland capitalized on Carroll’s fourth error to take a 6-2 lead. Junior Rider Minnich was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game as the leadoff batter. He was sacrificed to second and stole third, scoring on junior catcher Jackson Malesko’s throwing error.

Chapman delivered his third hit with a one-out infield single to shortstop in the fifth. He went to second on a throwing error and scored on sophomore right fielder Liam Ivory’s single to left. The Fighting Scots countered with a two-out, two-run rally in the sixth and added senior third baseman K.J. Johnson’s seventh-inning leadoff home run.

“None of our pitchers executed their pitches,” Sheets said. “You combine that with five errors, and it’s not going to look like your best game, but even their coach said it seemed a lot closer than the score made it look like.”