BY AARON PATTERSON firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — DANVILLE — To quote Bull Durham, “this is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”
Despite eminent threats in the forecast, it didn’t rain on Sunday at Danville Stadium, and the Danville Area Community College Jaguars were able to complete both of their scheduled games against conference rival Parkland College.
The Jaguars threw and caught the ball with relative ease committing only one error in 14 innings. And at times, they hit the ball. It just wasn’t always as timely as they needed.
Unfortunately, the timely hitting didn’t come until late in Game 2, and the Jaguars split the doubleheader — and the weekend series — with the Cobras.
DACC dropped the first game 5-3 after leaving 10 runners stranded with seven in scoring position. In Game 2, they cut their strikeouts in half and bounced back for a 4-1 win.
The Jaguars struck out 11 times in the opener and left seven of the 10 on base in the final three frames. Perhaps most frustrating was ending the game with the bases loaded, trailing by two.
“It’s kind of been that way,” DACC head coach Tim Bunton said. “We can’t get the two-out hit. I think (Nick) Barrientos had one today, but we don’t get the next one. It’s like we get one run and then we leave them out there. I think teams go through it. In Carolina, we swung the bats really well with men in scoring position and two outs. You’re also facing some pretty good arms. I think the pitching has something to do with that.
“It’s frustrating,” he continued. “I think we can cut down on strike outs. I think we’re striking out too much. Good arms or not, we probably have to do a better job of competing with two strikes and put it in play.”
After going 0-for-2 in Game 1, DACC freshman outfielder Cody Frazier reached on a first-inning lead-off single in Game 2. He didn’t stop there. In the third inning, Frazier drew a two-out, four-pitch walk and scored on Barrientos’ two-out single to center.
Then with the game tied 1-1 in the fifth, Frazier crushed a two-run homer to left scoring Austin Calhoun who had just reached on a bunt single.
There was little doubt Frazier’s hit was going to leave the stadium.
“Yesterday, I knew that I had some good barrels but I wasn’t seeing that many fastballs,” Frazier said. “(Parkland pitcher Jordan Deal) threw me a fastball up and I didn’t think he would come back. I hadn’t seen back-to-back fastballs the whole series. I knew he had a good slider and not much of a change-up, so I just sat on it. The pitch looked pretty fat and I got a good piece of the bat on it.”
It didn’t take long for the ball to clear the wall, and the Jaguars (18-9 overall, 10-6 in the Mid-West Athletic Conference) swiped all of the momentum from the Cobras (18-13, 9-5). Barrientos also scored in the inning on Jeff Woods’ double to left-center. But to his credit, pitcher James Doubet might have started the momentum shift in the fourth inning.
Doubet inherited two runners when he entered the game and gave up a run-scoring single to center by David Hayes on his first pitch. He followed it with a six-pitch walk, but then got out of the bases-loaded jam with a strikeout and a pop up to second base.
Doubet picked up the win giving up only one hit, two walks, no runs, and striking out seven.
The Jaguars allowed only one more Cobra past first base for the remainder of the game.
After starting the season 14-3, DACC has now dropped seven of its last 11. The rough stretch, however, has been against a tough Mid-West Athletic Conference.
“Some of the coaches were talking as we run across one another and when we talk on the phone, it’s probably the tightest it has been in my time here, and this is year 19,” Bunton said. “We think there are six teams that have a chance to be at the top of this league, and I think the standings prove it. I think this series proved it.
“I think it’s as competitive as it’s been from top to bottom. Now maybe there is no great team, but I do know that if you don’t play well you’re going to get beat. Just like in Game 1 today, we didn’t play good enough to win. Good baseball game, they played better. You can live with today’s Game 1 loss, though. Yesterday in Game 1, we made six errors and kicked it. We got beat in a pretty good game today.”
In the latest national poll which was released April 8, Heartland Community College (No. 8), DACC (No. 18), and Lincoln Land Community College (No. 19) all represented the M-WAC in the top 20.
“Winning Game 2 yesterday was big,” Frazier said. “It was a close one. We dropped the first game here, but coach said we’re playing good baseball; just keep at it. The ball is going to go our way at some point. It felt really good to get this win going into next week. We needed it.”
DACC is scheduled to play Olney Central College at home on Wednesday before traveling to Quincy for four games on Friday and Saturday against the John Wood Community College Trail Blazers (23-9, 11-5 in the league).