By BRETT R. CROSSLEY
It seems to be developing into a theme with the Williamsport Crosscutters, stranding runners and having defensive breakdowns at the most inconvenient times.
In Thursday night's 8-3 loss to Batavia at Bowman Field, Williamsport continued with the theme, going 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position and committing two costly errors.
The Cutters struggled with runners in scoring position throughout the night, leaving a total of eight runners on base, stranding two at third and three at second. And after Thursday's 5-0 loss, which the Cutters finished 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position, it's easy to see why the team has struggled since the break.
"I've stressed situational hitting all season," Crosscutters manager Andy Tracy said. "We did a pretty good job of getting guys over from second to third. That's a positive note, but we left guys on base."
Williamsport went a combined 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, with two of the three innings ending with strikeouts.
"Whenever you strike out with a runner on third it's a momentum killer, especially at this level," Tracy said. "It's the bottom line of baseball. You have to put it in play and see what happens. Batavia did it, and you saw what happened."
The Cutters were able to cut into Batavia's 4-0 lead, scoring three runs through the fifth to eighth innings. But, as things appeared to take a turn for Williamsport, it surrendered four runs in the top of the ninth, with two coming on the team's second error of the night.
"We got back into the game and I give the team credit for battling," Tracy said. "We left some guys out there on base and when you're playing from behind you can't leave guys on base."
Williamsport, much like its stranded runner totals, added to a killer state Thursday, committing two errors in the game for a combined eight in the two games since the All-Star break.
Starting pitcher Jeb Stefan looked sharp to open the contest, getting first-pitch strikes to the first four batters he faced. The start was slightly mauled by a Danny Stienstra home run over the left-center field fence. But, despite the quick, 1-0, lead, Stefan quickly shook it off to get the next batter to strikeout with three straight pitches. Stefan ended his night going three innings and giving up four runs. Stefan also got tagged for the loss, which dropped his record to 1-2.
Batavia's offense struck in the second inning when the bottom four hitters of its lineup connected with four consecutive singles. Williamsport committed its first error of the night when Gary Apelian drove the fourth single into right field and the ball was misplayed, scoring two Batavia runs.
Despite the Batavia surge, Williamsport's defense stiffened up, holding the Muckdogs scoreless until a four-run ninth inning buried any chance of a comeback.
Roman Quinn and Larry Greene Jr. helped Williamsport's offense get back on track after its deflating start. Quinn reached base in three of his five at-bats, getting to third and second in his first two at-bats before finally scoring his third time around.
After getting a single, Quinn advanced to second when Mitch Walding, who finished 1 for 4, drove the third pitch of his at-bat into the outfield for a single. Once on third, Quinn's speed took him home when Cameron Perkins connected with a short fly into right field. It was the Cutters' first run since going on break for the All-Star game.
"Mitch Walding had a really good game," Tracy said. "He hit the ball hard and had four quality atbats out of five."
Green finished with three doubles, going 3 for 4 and scoring twice.