Knights fall to Bluffton in NWC showdown
Friday, April 25, 2014 12:00 AM
By Daniel Joseph
Times Bulletin Correspondent
BLUFFTON — After falling to the Minster Wildcats on Wednesday 10-0, the Crestview Knights traveled to Bluffton where they took on a Pirate squad that, like the Knights, were undefeated in the NWC. Entering the game, each team was 3-0 in the Northwest Conference, but one team would leave without a zero in the loss column.
The Knights went in order in the first inning against left hander Chris McClain, but the Pirates sent six guys to the plate in the bottom half, and two of them scored.
Austin Bricker hit the second offering from Crestview pitcher Adrian Camp for a base hit. Trenton Phillips then laid down a sacrifice bunt that advanced Bricker to second, and McClain doubled to the left field fence, bringing Bricker in to score. McClain scored on the next pitch, as Drake Luginbuhl lined a sharp single up the middle, making it 2-0 Pirates.
After a rocky first inning, Camp settled down and only allowed three base hits throughout the remainder of the ballgame. Brett Rumer was the only Pirate to get past first base after the opening inning, when he stole second base after a single up the middle in the fourth.
“Adrian started mixing after the first inning,” said Crestview head coach Jim Wharton. “In the first inning, he threw mostly fastballs and they were hitting it. Adrian hasn’t pitched in a lot of varsity games, and he is still learning. We are trying to piece our staff together until we get healthy, so we are learning as we go.”
McClain retired the Knights in order in each of the first four innings, which included a string of four consecutive strikeouts through one stretch. McClain took a perfect game into the fifth inning when junior Nate Owens hit a 2-0 pitch between the shortstop and third basemen for the Knights first hit of the game. Owens would be erased on Jordan Miller’s ground ball fielder’s choice.
“McClain does a really nice job nibbling on the outer third,” said Wharton. “We knew going in that he pitched like that and we just didn’t adjust soon enough.”
The sixth inning didn’t start off well for the Knights as the first two batters grounded out to the shortstop to open the frame. Cameron Etzler then took the first pitch that he saw to the gap and hustled out a double. Senior Damian Helm then bounced a pitch off the mound and into center field, scoring Etzler from second and cutting the Bluffton lead in half.
Both the Knights and Pirates went in order in the seventh, but a welcome sight came when senior Bryce Richardson came in to pinch hit. Richardson was carted off the field earlier this week when he took a grounder off his face and suffered a broken nose. Richardson struck out looking to end the game on Thursday, but his plate appearance was a good sign for the Knights. His teammates anticipate his return to the starting lineup tomorrow after his return to the field tonight.
Though the Knights lost the game, they didn’t commit any errors which was a completely different story from Wednesday night, when they struggled through an eight-error performance versus Minster. Neither Camp nor McClain surrendered a single walk in Thursday’s game.
“They came out swinging and scored those two in the first and that was the difference in the game right out of the chute,” said Wharton. “The bottom line is, we didn’t get off the bus ready to play, and they were ready to play and that was a big difference of the game. Two well-pitched performances by kids and it’s unfortunate that we couldn’t give him (Camp) any more run support.”
The Knights have now lost three of their last five games going back to the double header with Ottoville last Saturday. They fall to 8-3 overall on the season and 3-1 in the NWC. Bluffton moves to 8-5 overall and 4-0 in the conference.
Crestview 000 001 0- 1 3 0
Bluffton 200 000 x- 2 6 0
Etzler cf 3-1-1-0, Helm 1b 3-0-1-1, Roop rf 3-0-0-0, Owens c 3-0-1-0, Miller 3b 3-0-0-0, Rickard ss 2-0-0-0, Overmeyer dh 2-0-0-0, Lippi lf 2-0-0-0, Rolsten 2b 2-0-0-0, x- Richardson ph 1-0-0-0
Bricker 2b 3-1-1-0, Phillips ss 2-0-0-0, McClain p 3-1-1-1, Luginbuhl cf 3-0-2-1, Belcher c 3-0-0-0, Kuhlman 1b 3-0-0-0, Rumer 3b 2-0-1-0, Skilliter lf 1-0-0-0, Harrod rf 2-0-1-0
2B: Etzler (C) , McClain (B)
WP: Chris McClain – 7.0 IP 1 R 1 ER 3 H 0 BB, 6 K
LP: Adrian Camp – 6.0 IP 2 R 2 ER 6 H 0 BB 1 K