BRADFORD – Errors piled up for the Bradford baseball team in a 3-2 loss to Houston on Tuesday.
Mistakes by Bradford played into all three of Houston’s runs with the Railroaders committing six errors in the game. They held the Wildcats to just three hits, but the miscues were too much for the Roaders to overcome.
“We’ve got to eliminate the mental mistakes,” Bradford coach Andy Mead said. “Just play smarter baseball defensively more than anything. It seems like the losses that we have had that’s been close is all because of just mental mistakes that we’ve made. We’ve just got to clean that up somehow. We haven’t really been hitting the ball all that well as a team so we’ve got lots of improvement to do. We’re still searching for that W so with that being said, trying to somewhat stay positive and at the same time correct what issues and problems we have so we can come up with that first W.”
Houston’s first run came in the third inning as Bradford was trying to turn a double play. The Railroaders got the lead runner, but the throw from second to first was off target, which allowed Brennan Arnold to advance all the way to third. Another throwing error to third base allowed Arnold to score and put Houston up 1-0.
Bradford tied the game in the bottom half of the inning, but Houston scored in the fourth to regain the lead. Brad Hickerson led off with a walk, stole second, went to third on a grounder by Dominic Beaver and scored on a pitch in the dirt to give Houston a 2-1 lead.
The Wildcats added to their lead in the fifth inning as they took advantage of another Bradford error. Arnold singled and stole second. Then as he stole third, Bradford threw the ball into the outfield, allowing Arnold to score and put Houston up 3-1.
“That’s the kind of stuff that’s haunting us,” Mead said. “It’s haunting us. It’s not like it’s once in a while. It’s every game we’ve had so far we’ve had similar issues. We’re not taking care of the ball. It’s just simple things that we’ve got to fix, but I don’t know how to fix mental mistakes.”
Despite the errors, Bradford did have a couple bright spots in Tuesday’s game.
Andy Branson went 3-for-4, drove in a run and scored a run. In the bottom of the third Branson singled to drive in Phillips and knot the score a 1-1.
In the fifth inning Branson had an infield single then went to second on a Houston throwing error. A dropped fly ball in the outfield allowed Branson to score, pulling the Railroaders within one run at 3-2.
“His bat is really hot right now,” Mead said of Branson. “His swing looks real good. He’s doing a good job for us as far as swinging the bat.”
Parker Smith, Wyatt Spangler and Gage Wills all were 1-for-3 for Bradford on Tuesday.
“We’ve got some guys, too, that are right around that .330, .400 mark,” Mead said. “We’ve got four hitters that are hanging right around .400. We’ve just got to put a lineup together that basically we can hit all through the lineup. I don’t care if that’s a freshman or a senior. You start 0-4 you’ve got to start changing some things.”
Mead also was pleased with his team’s pitching. Wills, a freshman, got his first varsity start and pitched 4 1/3 innings. Smith and Branson finished off the game and held Houston scoreless over the final 2 2/3 innings.
“The pitchers are throwing well, and that’s showing,” Mead said. “But if they only allow three runs, we ought to be able to score enough runs to win, especially when the three that are up on the board aren’t even earned.
“Gage Wills, he got his first start tonight, and he’s a freshman. Expecting big things out of him, that’s for sure. He did a good job for us. He threw about 82 pitches. He’s going to have a bright future.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.