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Cutters come up just short, lose 8th straight at home
July 14, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT
The room was quiet. Players packed up their gear, got ready to take showers and changed from their game uniforms in near silence.
There seemed to be an urgency to get out of the Williamsport clubhouse, part of a Bowman Field house of horrors that's been the site of eight consecutive losses for the Crosscutters. Saturday night was the 14th time in the last 18 games the Cutters have walked off the field without a victory, but this one was different.
Even as the team struggled in three-game series sweeps to both Mahoning Valley and Tri-City, there was life in the clubhouse. Players talked and joked amongst themselves like they've always done. Not last night.
Last night's 4-3 loss in the series opener to Vermont hurt. There were chances upon chances for the Cutters to break out of a funk that's now seen them lose five games in a row, and eight in a row at home. Matt Sisto and Geoff Broussard were brilliant in relief of Josh Warner who struggled through four innings without his best stuff.
Roman Quinn made two great hustle plays, first beating out a sure-fire ground ball double play to extend what became a three-run fifth inning. And the second diving deep in the hole to knock down a ground ball in the ninth inning to prevent an insurance run from scoring. With the bases loaded, he turned a nifty 6-3 double play against the next batter to keep Vermont's lead at 4-3 going into the last of the ninth.
But for all the good things you could point to as signs of life for a Crosscutters team that is reeling, there were enough negatives that kept them winless two-thirds of the way through this current homestand. The offense struggled again with situational hitting, going 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position. An error on a routine ground ball to Quinn in the second gave the Lake Monsters an extra run. An errant pickoff play in the same inning set up Vermont's two-run second.
"Just a tough loss tonight," said Sisto, one of only a handful of players left in the clubhouse as postgame fireworks exploded above Bowman Field. "It was a good game but we could have played better. Nobody is doubting anything because we'll be here (Sunday) working and trying to get a win. It's just a rough night."
Last night may have been the roughest night of this homestand. Warner struggled without his best stuff, but managed to keep the Cutters in the game as he battled through four gutty innings.
Even after Warner gave up four runs in the first three innings, he, Sisto and Broussard kept Vermont off the board for the final six innings. Warner's big struggles came with two strikes as he gave up a leadoff double to Chris Bostick to start the game on a 1-2 pitch. Two batters later he surrendered an RBI single to Jacob Tannis on a 1-2 pitch. He surrendered an RBI double to Bostick on a 3-2 pitch in the second, and gave up a towering home run to Wilfredo Solano on an 0-2 pitch to lead off the third inning.
Last night was the first time Warner failed to go five innings this year in a start.
"I think that comes back to Warner didn't have his best stuff," Cutters manager Andy Tracy said. "He was just trying to make a solid pitch and he couldn't execute. And if he can't work in with his fastball, it's really magnified because everything flattens out and slows down."
Williamsport pulled to within a run in the fifth inning, scoring first on an RBI double from Brian Pointer. It was just Pointer's second hit since his two home run, six-RBI night in Staten Island a week ago.
Quinn batted with two outs and runners on first and third in the inning and hit a rocket one-hopper to Lake Monsters second baseman Solano that looked like a sure-fire double play. But somehow Quinn, the fastest player in the Phillies' minor league system, beat out the relay throw to allow Pointer to score and extend the inning.
Two pitches later, Quinn scored on an RBI double down the third-base line from Cameron Perkins to cut the Vermont lead to 4-3.
"I don't know how he beat it out," Tracy said of Quinn avoiding the double play. "I was at third and I'm saying that's a double play, automatic. Next thing you know, boom, I look up and he's safe."
The Cutters did strand one of their five runners in scoring position when Larry Greene Jr. struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch with Perkins on second. In fact, Williamsport's only hit last night with a man in scoring position was Perkins' double. The Cutters were 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position last night.
During their current five-game losing streak, the Cutters are a combined 6 for 56 (.107 batting average) with runners in scoring position.
Mitch Walding was stranded on third base after a leadoff double in the second thanks to a productive out ground ball and two strikeouts. Tyler Greene suffered the same fate after reaching on a throwing error in the seventh thanks to a strikeout and a routine ground ball to second. And when Yan Carlos Olmo tripled with two outs in the eighth, Brian Pointer strike out on a breaking ball in the dirt.
Pointer struck out three times last night, all with runners in scoring position.
"At times it does get frustrating but it's not like we're trying to intentionally do it," Quinn said. "We're trying to drive in a run. I think we're swinging at a couple bad pitches, that's all. We just have to relax and try to get ourselves a pitch to hit. See the ball up. Get something to drive."
"If you look at the situational hitting, what did we end up doing? Chasing stuff out of the zone," Tracy said. "Some kids panic when things happen as opposed to slowing the game down."
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