A little more than 48 hours ago, Coleman-Pitt Post 58 was undefeated, riding a potent offense that was averaging 10 runs per game and a pitching staff that was allowing its defense to do much of the work.
Post 58 was about as sound as a baseball team can be.
Fast forward to Wednesday, and Coleman-Pitt was far from its early-season form after a 7-4 loss and a near copy of its defeat one night earlier.
“A lot of them just ain’t coming to play,” Post 58 coach Hank Jones said. “They just flat out ain’t coming to play. That’s all I can tell you.”
Questions abound after another abysmal defensive performance – there have been 12 errors in the past two games.
Anger and frustration permeated the locker room walls as another major mental blunder cost Post 58 a chance at its first Area I West victory against the Garner Nationals, an unaffiliated American Legion team, at American Legion Field.
“It was awful,” Jones said. “We gave them the game.”
Post 58 (4-2-1, 0-2 Area I West) again fell behind early after five errors in the first six innings.
Coleman-Pitt pulled back within one run in the bottom of the eighth.
Like his teammate the night before, shortstop Khalil Macklin found himself on second base with no outs as the game-tying run in scoring position.
His fate was the same, too. Macklin ran for third base early and was caught stealing without a pitch.
The momentum was gone, and a deflated Post 58 gave up a pair of runs in the top half of the ninth inning on a kicked ball and a stalled double steal.
“You’ve got no outs and a runner on second base and you get picked off, two nights in a row,” Jones said. “That’s the game-tying run. ... It’s just a mess. It’s a mess. That’s all I can tell you.”
Jones can handle the physical errors. He even said that he expects a team to commit about two-and-a-half errors per game during the course of a season. Post 58 is averaging six in its past two games after solid defensive performances in each of the previous five games.
It’s the mental errors and the lack of focus that frustrates the team’s fifth-year coach.
“It kills you,” Jones said. “You’re going to make your fair share of physical mistakes, anyway. ... I’m not so much worried about the physical stuff. I’m worried about what’s going on out there at second base.”
Garner (8-0, 1-0) never looked in control Wednesday. Instead, the Nationals took advantage of five unearned runs through the first six innings.
A throwing error in the third gave the Nationals a chance for a two-out, three-run rally.
A debauchery of defense in the sixth allowed Garner to bolster its lead. On one play, Post 58 committed a pair of throwing errors, eventually allowing two runs to score.
“One error causes like a cancer,” said center fielder Linwood Jones, who went 2-for-4 with a run scored. “It just spreads. It kills the whole mood of the game.”
Coleman-Pitt, which has scored nine runs in the past two games after averaging nine through the non-conference schedule, won’t have much time to correct its mistakes or wallow in its misery.
Post 58 will play Apex, which defeated Coleman-Pitt on Tuesday in the team’s league opener, at 7 tonight in Apex.
“The little things: We have to go back to the little things and bring our intensity up,” Linwood Jones said. “We were dead the whole game.”
GN 003 002 002 – 7 8 3
CP 100 200 100 – 4 5 5
WP: Chandler Jones (5IP, 3R, 2ER, 4H, 3BB, 3K); LP: MJ Jones (6IP, 5R, 0ER, 6H, 2BB, 3K).
2B: Nick Stuart (GN); Linwood Jones (CP); Christian Perry (CP).
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org