Baseball in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference allows very little margin for error.
Center Grove found itself reminded of this Tuesday night in a 7-2 loss to Class 4A No. 1 Carmel at Hartman Field.
Permitting only four base hits, Trojans pitchers struggled with control and walked a total of eight Carmel batters. Offensively, Center Grove struck out a total of nine times.
“After you get down, you have to keep plugging away. But the reason we were down is because we strike out too much and we walk too many of their hitters,” Trojans coach Keith Hatfield said. “That’s been our story the whole year. It’s frustrating, but we’re young.
“Believe it or not, we did show signs of improvement tonight at the plate. When we didn’t strike out, we weren’t reaching and flailing at balls. We were taking good swings, but we’ve just got to make contact more.”
The victory improved the Greyhounds to 3-0 overall in what was the league opener for both squads. Center Grove (2-4, 0-1) returns the favor this afternoon by hosting the ’Hounds at 5:30 p.m.
Sparked by senior Rhett Wintner’s three-run home run over the right-center fence, Carmel jumped out to a commanding 5-0 lead through two frames.
The Greyhounds chased Trojans starter Jacob Gilcrest. The junior lefty lasted 1 2/3 innings, permitting two hits but giving up six walks and striking out three.
Senior Max Heath and junior Hunter Burnett came on in relief for Center Grove.
The Trojans pulled to within 5-2 with runs in both the top of the fourth and fifth innings. Center Grove averted the shutout when Garrett Hill’s single to centerfield scored freshman Bryce Eblin, who had reached first on a throwing error and moved to second on Ryan Sauter’s single.
Hill and Sauter, both juniors, each collected two base hits in a losing cause.
Carmel took the field with the highest of rankings, but Hatfield has experienced enough MIC competition to know his team must bring its best regardless the opponent.
“Anytime you’re in a conference game it’s going to be intense,” he said. “We’re very capable. We’ve just got to quit shooting ourselves in the foot.”