SHERIDAN — The Sheridan Troopers continued to struggle at the plate as they fell to the Jackson Giants in extra innings yesterday, 8-7.
Lack of confidence in the batter’s box has been the Achilles’ heel for the Troopers all season, and yesterday’s game at Thorne-Rider Stadium was no different. Jackson pitcher Tristan Shockly was on his way to a perfect game until a two-out single by Connor McCafferty broke it up in the bottom of the fourth inning.
The Troopers got help from some Giants errors in the sixth inning, an inning that would see all seven Sheridan runs cross the plate. Other than that inning, however, the Troopers struggled to find any consistency at the plate.
“We had one inning where we scored seven runs thanks to errors on their part, not necessarily us hitting the ball well,” Troopers coach Ben Phillips said.
“Other than that we really didn’t do a whole lot offensively.”
After giving up three runs in the top of the second inning and a solo home run in the top of the sixth, Sheridan found themselves down 4-0 before their big-scoring inning in the bottom of the sixth.
Turner Martini beat the throw on a bunt to lead off the inning before the Jackson second baseman let a Caleb Hoopes grounder roll between his legs. A short dinger in front of the plate would be misplayed by Shockly, scoring Martini from third.
Ethan Hoopes hit a two-RBI double, and a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases for the Troopers. Davis Alden hit a single through the gap between third base and the shortstop that scored another run.
Two bad throws from the third baseman to first resulted in the final three runs of the inning, and the game, for Sheridan.
The Troopers carried a 7-4 lead into the ninth inning before it all fell apart. Two singles and a hit batter loaded the bases to open the inning, and another single scored a run for Jackson. After a lineout and strikeout, the Troopers were one out away from a conference victory, and it looked as if it was headed that way as the next batter hit a routine ground ball to the shortstop.
A bad throw went past the first baseman, and the Giants brought around two runs, tying the ballgame. The inning sucked the life out of the Troopers, who were unable to score in the bottom of the ninth and carried no momentum into extra innings.
The Giants scored on a sacrifice fly in the top of the 12th inning, and two strikeouts and a pop fly by the Troopers ended the game. The Giants went back to Jackson with a 8-7 conference victory.
“In the last four innings we had 13 batters up, and 10 of them struck out,” Phillips said. “That just shows me that after they gave the game away in the ninth, they quit. They were done and ready to lose.”
In a game that was mostly full of miscues and lackluster at-bats, one positive from the day was the tremendous effort on the mound for the Troopers.
Other than the early three-run second inning and a solo home run in the sixth, Tyler Stauffer found a zone as he pitched nine innings for the home team.
“Tyler pitched a great game,” Phillips said. “It’s disappointing that he got a no-decision. He went nine innings and goes into the bottom of the ninth and gives up three unearned runs that weren’t his fault. I was proud of his performance.”
In a season where the theme has been inconsistency in the batter’s box, coach Phillips is waiting for somebody to step up and be a leader on his young team.
“Right now we don’t really have any leadership,” Phillips said. “Nobody really wants to step up and be a leader and hold the team accountable. It’s in their hands if they want to win or lose or how hard they want to compete.”
The Troopers doubleheader against Gillette tonight has been canceled, and the Troopers next game will be Wednesday at Douglas.