SYRACUSE – Wawasee baseball head coach Eric Screeton was reduced to a quick shake of the head on why his team can’t seem to avoid the big inning.
A four-run second inning by Goshen was the albatross Screeton and Wawasee can’t seem to avoid as the Redskins beat the Warriors 5-3 Monday in Northern Lakes Conference baseball at Warrior Field.
“Man, if I had that answer, we would be in a much different position than we are right now,” Screeton said of the big inning struggles. “It’s just the little things like giving up four runs on three hits. We are not doing a good job winning the freebie war. A lead-off walk and situational passed ball. Botching a pick-off move. Not being able to throw the ball around. That is the stuff we have to be able to eliminate.”
Goshen’s output in the second inning happened in an all-too-familiar way against Wawasee, much in the same regard as several of its close losses in NLC play. After Austin Henke singled to put runners on first and third, Henke used the delayed steal to distract Wawasee catcher Nate Prescott, throwing to second as Luke Harris broke for home. Henke was safe at second and the throw home was off target.
Kyle Taylor then drove in Henke, which was then followed by a Jorge Pizana double. After Derek DeMeyer brought home Taylor on a fielder’s choice to make the score 3-0, Pizana scampered home on a wild pitch.
The opportunities for Goshen could not have come at a better time, according to head coach Hal Farmwald.
“We’ve been scuffling too, and this was one we really felt like we needed to get,” Farmwald said. “We got a really good effort from Deric (Haynes) and then Jake Jesse comes in and shuts the door after making us nervous with a couple of walks. This was just a game where defense and pitching got us through.”
The Redskins forced Screeton’s hand, forcing him to pull starter Patrick Navarro after just two innings pitched. Navarro allowed four hits, two earned runs, one walk and had no strikeouts.
Goshen tacked on another run in the fifth when DeMeyer walked and eventually came in to score on another wild pitch by reliever Drew Anderson.
The Warriors would respond with all three of its runs in the fifth, putting the pressure on Goshen to hang on. Derrick Sorensen and Anderson opened the inning with singles, followed by Nate Hare loading the bases with a walk.
Prescott brought home Sorensen on a fielder’s choice, and Donovan Navarro continued the movement with an RBI single to close the lead to 5-2. An Andrew Milligan single loaded the bases again and an Isaac Rigdon groundout moved Wawasee within two runs. But Goshen starter Deric Haynes would get out of trouble getting Kurtis Liston to fly out to center to end the threat.
Haynes would work into the sixth, but after hitting Sorensen with a pitch, Farmwald called upon Jesse to clean up the mess. Haynes worked 5.1 innings, scattering six hits and walking six while striking out just one batter.
Jesse, with his funky delivery, baffled Wawasee the final five outs of the game. Not allowing a ball out of the infield, Jesse did walk two batters in the seventh, but got out of the jam striking out Rigdon and getting Liston to ground out to end it.
“I don’t think Jake has walked two kids all year, and he walks two in the seventh inning,” Farmwald said. “Jake has been money for us all season and in these situations, we wanted to get him into the game and let him do what he’s been really good at.”
Goshen moves to 8-15 on the season and picks up its fifth win against eight losses in the NLC. Wawasee, which is in another marathon week with games Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, falls to 3-15 overall and 1-11 in the NLC. Three of those games, beginning Tuesday with a home date against Fairfield, come against potential sectional opponents.
“For us, it really isn’t about who the opponent is, it still is about us and trying to improve each day,” Screeton said. “We are trying to use every day to get better. I know it is cliché, but we really did throw out the record books and just are trying to stay positive and improve daily.
“Did we get better today? And lets focus on being a tough out in two weeks, regardless on who we play.”
Wawasee’s Sam Rookstool and Harrison Shortill had RBIs, but Goshen was too tough at home in a 13-2 JV win at Phend Field.