MARIETTA — The 643 DP Cougars 18U had more than twice as many hits as the Knights Baseball 17U American on a Monday afternoon game at Aviation Sports Complex. They also had 13 total base runners.
But only two of those runners managed to cross home plate and that wasn’t enough as the Knights preserved a 4-2 victory to maintain its perfect record in pool play at the World Wood Bat 18U National Tournament.
The Cougars left at least one runner on base every inning.
“We didn’t play well in the end and couldn’t get that timely hit,” Cougars coach Jimmy Gaul said. “They usually pull through but it’s baseball. It can’t happen every time.”
Their biggest chance of breaking through came in the top of the seventh when they trailed 4-1. The Cougars led off the inning with a Christian Cook double, a Jeff Sneed single and an RBI double by lead-off hitter Zach Ross.
Still no outs in the inning, that was all the offense 6-4-3 DP Cougars could muster. Nick Andress and Jake Maziar both struck out swinging and Howard Joe couldn’t get the ball by the first baseman.
The Cougars struck first in the top of the second inning when Jimmy Kelley led off with a double on scored on a fielder’s choice RBI by Tregra Williams. Recent Walker graduate Wesley Calkins followed with a single to put Williams in scoring position before the Knights got out of the inning.
While the Cougars struggled with the clutch hits, the Knights had an easier time of it.
The Knights took a 2-1 lead in the bottom half of the second and they never trailed again. Gavin Elmore led off the inning with a double to left and Sam Douglas walked on four pitches.
Two batters later and only one out, Deon Sanders delivered a two-run double for the lead before Jamie Haggard answered the pressure with consecutive strikeouts to end the inning.
Then the walks started getting the best of Haggard two innings later. He walked the bases loaded with one out to start the fourth. Dustin Warmath came through with an RBI single to center to extend the lead before Jeremy Gonzalez delivered an RBI on a fielder’s choice.
Haggard walked eight batters in four innings but limited the Knights to just four hits.
“We took advantage of the walks,” Knights coach James Davis said. “We didn’t get a lot of hits but we got the clutch ones we needed. (Haggard) did well but lost a little bit of his command.”
Haggard got out of the fourth with no further damage by striking out Brett Burke looking. Andress would go on to pitch two innings of no-hit baseball to keep the Cougars in the game, down by only three runs.
But the Knights managed just one run in the seventh.