While both coaches agreed it wasn’t the most well-played baseball game, it was a competitive contest between Borgia and Washington Tuesday at Ronsick Field.
The Knights (7-0) remained unbeaten on the season, breaking a tie with two runs in the top of the sixth inning and one in the seventh for an 8-5 victory.
“It was a tough one. Washington is a good team. They’ve been playing well,” said Borgia Head Coach Rob Struckhoff. “It’s always a good game. It’s a quality win. They hit (Matt) Jones pretty well. We made some mistakes. We threw the ball away on a double play that cost us two runs. There were runs given to both teams.”
Fair or Foul
With the score tied 5-5 in the top of the sixth inning, Borgia’s Matt Jones belted a two-run home run down the left field line to give the Knights a 7-5 lead.
Washington (5-4) argued that the ball went foul, but it was ruled a home run by the home plate umpire.
“I was looking at it because the runner in front of me wasn’t going,” Jones said. “It was hooking. I was just hoping it wasn’t going foul. They told me it was a fair ball, so that’s what it was.”
Struckhoff and Washington Head Coach Scott Bray had different opinions of the play.
“I thought it was fair. It was close. Obviously they’re going to argue it. I’d argue it, too,” Struckhoff said. “From my angle, it was between the 318 and the line. It did hook at the end, but it’s where it goes out, not what it does after it goes out.”
Bray had a different take.
“I thought it was foul. I don’t think there was even a question. When I questioned it, he (the umpire) said he thought he saw a home run,” Bray said. “They got one more run after that, so it really doesn’t matter.”
The Knights added a run in the top of the seventh inning to increase their lead to 8-5.
According to the boxscore, the two teams combined for 13 errors, 10 by Washington and three by Borgia.
Some of that had to do with the infield conditions as a number of ground balls took bad hops, which made it difficult to make plays.
“Both teams came to play, but made some mistakes in the field,” Struckhoff said. “You hate to say it, but the field conditions were a little rough. That got in our minds, got in their minds. You never know what the ball was going to do when it was hit. The infielders were acting like catchers. They just tried to block the ball. Hopefully we can get something squared away with the field.”
Bray didn’t want to use the field conditions as an excuse for his team’s defense.
“It’s the same for both teams. I can take a bad hop here or there, but we had eight legitimate errors on balls that we normally make,” Bray said. “You’re not going to beat any team if you give them eight extra outs.”
Borgia scored two runs in the top of the first inning and single runs in the third, fourth and fifth.
Washington countered with three runs in the bottom of the third inning, one in the fourth and one in the fifth.
Jones pitched the first five innings for Borgia for the win. He allowed five runs, three earned, on six hits with four walks and five strikeouts.
“I threw strikes and kept the team in the game. It definitely wasn’t my best performance,” Jones said. “It’s a fun game. We know everyone on the other team. Sometimes it gets real serious and sometimes it’s fun.”
Tyler Murray tossed the final two frames for the save. He allowed no runs on two hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
“Jones kept us in the game. He threw strikes. We had (Tony) Helfrich slotted for this game, but he has stomach flu. We put him out in center field. We had to get him out in the end because he was struggling. He toughed it out. It’s his senior year and he wanted to play the Washington game,” Struckhoff said. “Murray did a great job to knock down the save.”
Jared Walde got the start on the mound for the Blue Jays and suffered the loss. In five innings, he allowed five runs, one earned, on seven hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.
Aaron Meyer worked 1.2 innings in relief, allowing three runs, two earned. Kyle Summers got the final out in the top of the seventh.
“Jared pitched a good game and Jones pitched well, too. There are hitters up and down the lineup on both sides,” Bray said. “It’s just one of those things where the team that makes the least amount of mistakes, wins.”
Nathaniel Hillermann and Jones both were 3-4 at the plate to pace Borgia. Jones was a triple short of the cycle, finishing with four RBIs.
“Every day, I try to get a couple hundred swings in the cage,” Jones said. “I work mostly on driving the ball up the middle.”
Grant Eckelkamp reached base three times with two hits and a walk to go with two runs.
Nick Jacquin finished with two hits and one RBI.
Noah Borgerding added one hit and two runs. Mitchell Hammack had one hit.
Walde led Washington at the plate with two hits, both doubles, and one RBI.
Brock Hopkins, Pete Coulter and Todd Hellmann each collected one hit, one walk and one run.
Phillip Straatmann also had one hit.
“These kids grow up together and know each other. It’s usually a fun atmosphere,” Bray said. “There’s very good baseball normally. I don’t think this was a well-played game.”
Down the Stretch
Bray likes the direction the Blue Jays are going.
“We’re now starting to hit. Once we put it all together, I think we’re going to be a tough team to beat,” Bray said. “We’ve had good pitching outings, and not just from Luke Hasenjaeger and Walde. Zach Pointer threw a complete game the other night. Justin Schuler has thrown well. Kyle Summers is our guy who comes in and closes games. We have other guys who can throw too. I’ve got a couple of sophomores who I want to see pitch because I know they can.”
Struckhoff is pleased with the Knights’ performance so far this season.
“If you learn to win early in the season, things just snowball. Winning is contagious,” Struckhoff said. “We’ve had close games this year. As coaches and players, you have no doubts. You know you’re going to come through, even when you’re playing quality opponents. We had Rolla, Pacific and Washington, all great games, but we came out on top because our kids know how to win. Hopefully it continues.”