SHERIDAN — The Sheridan Jets hit a stumbling block Tuesday in their doubleheader against the Cody Cubs at Thorne-Rider Stadium. Sheridan split the two games, winning the first contest 5-2 but falling 10-5 in the second. The Jets are now 8-9 overall.
After an encouraging weekend against quality competition at a tournament in Billings, the Jets came out relatively flat Tuesday. The team lacked pitch control, left many runners stranded on base and made a few costly errors in the field.
“We just didn’t play with that sense of urgency,” Jets head coach Austin Cowen said. “We thought we were better than them, and we showed what’ll happen when you think you’re better than you are.”
In the first part of the doubleheader, the Jets plated a run in the third inning to break a 2-2 tie and added two runs in the fifth inning to come away with the three-run victory.
Sheridan immediately dug itself a hole in the second game, however. The Jets allowed four runs in the first inning, two on passed balls. Sheridan responded with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning, with RBIs from Seth Deutscher and Caden Steel.
Starting pitcher Cole Leach settled down in the next two innings, retiring the Cody batters in order. After the tough start, Leach only gave up one hit in the next 3 1/3 innings.
Luke Mullinax came on in relief in the fifth inning with a runner on first and one out. After two walks, Mullinax faced a bases-loaded jam with two outs but came away unscathed, striking out the final batter to end the inning.
The Jets took the lead in the bottom of the fifth, but the advantage was short-lived. Caden Steel knocked an RBI double to left center, knotting the game at 4. After two infield hits, the Jets had the bases loaded. Dawson Lee broke the tie with a sacrifice fly to right field, but Sheridan couldn’t bring the other two runners home.
The Jets left seven runners in scoring position during the five-run loss.
“We just need guys to step up, and unfortunately today, we didn’t,” Cowen said.
The wheels came off in the next inning when Sheridan allowed four runs — three of them coming with two outs — due in part to defensive mistakes. Cody took the lead on a balk, then had two RBI singles on errors from Sheridan outfielders on consecutive batters.
Cody scored two more runs in the seventh to take a commanding five-run lead, though the Jets showed temporary signs of life in the final frame.
Sheridan loaded the bases with no outs but couldn’t bring any runners home, ending the game with a flyout, strikeout and groundout.
The inconsistency from a young team wasn’t surprising to its head coach but was frustrating nonetheless.
“We play one good [game], then one not so good,” Cowen said. “It’s just that teeter-totter where we’re struggling to find that consistency … To be an elite team that I think they can be, that’s what it takes.”
Prior to Tuesday, the Jets had been steadily progressing, surpassing Cowen’s expectations heading into the season.
“Overall, we’ve been doing a really good job of competing,” Cowen said. “But then this one, we took a couple steps back.”
Sheridan was scheduled to face Casper Friday and Saturday, but those games were recently canceled. As a result, Cowen gave the team a couple days’ rest to take their minds off the game and hopefully come back with a renewed focus at practice later in the week.
Sheridan hosts Billings for a doubleheader Sunday beginning at 1 p.m.