With Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Pioneer Valley League foe Center, the Bear River baseball team was left scratching its heads as to where the offense had gone.
“That’s the worst I’ve seen us,” Bruin head coach Dahorl Ennis said. “Just crap.”
Coming into Wednesday’s home game, Bear River (7-8, 2-3 PVL) had been riding a hot streak, winning four of its last five games and scoring 50 runs in that stretch.
“We go to Fresno, average 13, 14 hits per game, look really good, beat Division I schools, and then we come out here and look past these guys,” Ennis said.
All that offense produced at the Selma Kiwanis Tournament in Fresno is now a distant memory for the Bruins after mustering only three hits and two runs against the Cougars (6-8, 2-3 PVL), who had allowed six or more runs in their previous eight games.
“That’s a big loss, a huge setback,” Ennis said. “We had an opportunity tonight. Now we’re battling for the third (league) spot. Now we have two tough games coming up, and this was a game we should have had.”
In a game of missed opportunities and poor base running by the Bruins, the fifth inning stood out above the rest.
Trailing the Cougars, 1-0, in the fifth and after going 3-up, 3-down in three of the first four innings, Bear River finally got things going.
Bruins power hitter and speediest runner Travis Anderson opened the fifth inning by wearing a Cougar pitch. With Anderson on first, the Bruins attempted to bunt him over, but when the bunt attempt failed, Anderson was gunned out trying to take second base. With the bases empty, Andrew Harris abandoned the bunt attempt and drew a walk. Harris attempted to steal on the next pitch but stumbled midway from first to second and was thrown out sliding into the bag. Then with two outs and nobody on, Michael Raigoza and Tyler Toft both drew free passes, and Ryan Anderson was beaned to load the bases.
With the bases juiced, Bear River leadoff hitter Jake Sypnicki stood at the plate. The junior worked the count to 3-1, then ripped the next offering down the line but just foul. Sypnicki drew the RBI walk on the next pitch. Michael Scudero added a pinch-hit RBI walk to give Bear River its first advantage of the game at 2-1.
The walk parade came to an end on the next batter when Sypnicki was picked off at second base with the Bruins No. 3 hitter, Andrew Reiss, standing in the box. In the fifth inning alone, the Bruins drew seven free passes, scored two runs, had three runners called out on the base paths and left two stranded.
“We ran ourselves out of base runners,” Ennis said. “There were lots of mental errors and no reason for it.”
The Cougars didn’t wait long to take back the lead, getting a two-out, two-run double from Thomas Del Castillo, who beat the Bruin left-fielder deep.
Bear River threatened in the sixth when David Chorjel ripped his second base knock of the day with one out. After a Bruin out, Raigoza drew another walk, putting two on with two out, but Bear River was unable to come through with a clutch hit.
In the seventh, the Bruins put a runner on first off a Cougar error, but a fielder’s choice and an easy pop fly ended any hopes of a comeback win.
John Burgess started the game for Bear River, going four innings and allowing just one hit and one run during that time. Sypnicki took the loss, throwing three innings and allowing two earned runs off four hits, while striking out four and walking none.
Center’s Drake Oill started the game and went the first 4 2/3 before being replaced by Brenden Bergman
After the game, Ennis said he hopes this game is just a product of a five-day layoff for the Bruins.
“It’s frustrating,” Ennis said. “But as coaches, we can’t give up on them and just look forward and battle through it.”
The Bruins have little time to lick their wounds as they face Nevada Union in a nonleague game today and get back to PVL play Friday with a game at league leader Lincoln.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.