WEST ALEXANDRIA – The Tri-Village Patriots baseball team has been able to string together four wins. The fourth was an impressive one against the Twin Valley South Panthers on Friday.
Tri-Village was aggressive on the base paths and got a boatload of stolen bases. Defensively, the Patriots bent several times and allowed runners on base. But they only allowed a solitary run to be scored against them in an impressive 13-1 win. Christian Ricker pitched the entire game.
“Christian Ricker pitched a great game,” Tri-Village coach Jim Maples said. “He was throwing strikes. Our defense backed him up well today. Both Ricker and Jared Buckley are two of the faster players in the league. So they have a green light to run at any time. They are smart enough to take advantage of any opportunities that they can see. In one inning Buckley stole second, third and then home. ”
Tri-Village gradually built a lead early on. Then the Patriots took advantage of some extra outs as the Panthers suffered some lapses on defense and committed errors.
Tri-Village also had a couple of two-out rallies. This happened in the third inning when an error on a throw to first went wide and put Eyer on first. Next Jackson Plush doubled and Trey Frech got a hit to score two runs.
Tri-Village could have done more damage as it left the bases loaded when the inning ended. Still this gave the Patriots a solid 4-1 lead.
Their second two-out rally was the one that broke the game open. In the sixth inning the bases were loaded. Tri-Village had a force out at home for its second out of the inning. Then Derek Eyer launched a hit that cleared the left field fence for a grand slam.
“Derek is just a little guy who plays second base,” Maples said. “He has been a solid kid this season. This is his first year playing for us, and he has really shone a lot of improvement. We gave him the opportunity, and he is taking advantage of it big time. It has been awhile since anyone put one over the fence – he really put a charge into that ball.”
South got its only run in the second inning. After that the Tri-Village defense stiffened up. Two Panther runners were stranded in the fourth.
Then Twin Valley South made serious attempt at a rally in the fifth. The Panthers had runners on second and third, but on a base hit the third base runner got caught in a rundown between third baseman Cody Eyer and catcher Gage Hileman. When the runner made a break for the plate, Ricker was there to tag him out.
“We are starting to play smart baseball,” Maples said. “This puts us at 4-2 in the conference. Things can be contagious. Early in the season we were not hitting well. But I know that the kids have hit well in the past. So I knew that we were better than what we were showing. We hit the ball hard today; there were not many bloops. And now we are starting to turn it around. We are happy with the way we are playing right now.”