Error-prone: Lions struggle with mistakes throughout weekend at Stout
HANCOCK — After a relatively strong showing in Superior, Wisconsin, on Wednesday, the Finlandia Lions baseball team took a bit of a step backwards over the weekend in a string of four losses against Wisconsin-Stout.
Manager Evan Brandt was honest about how he felt the week went.
“We have had quite a conversation about mental focus this week,” he said. “We have one really good at bat and then its followed by a bad at bat. Then we have another good at bat and its followed by another bad at bat. Those things just don’t produce runs.
“I think that was the problem this weekend. We didn’t do that.”
The big issue against Stout was the sheer volume of errors committed by the Lions. They put up 16 over the course of four games. By comparison, they had just two on Wednesday against the Yellowjackets.
“Errors with guys on base will kill anything offensively that we are trying to do,” said Brandt. “If our error production matches their run production, then that is a problem.”
That does not mean there were not some positives to come out of the week as a whole. Brandt was pleased with the efforts of freshman pitcher Frankie Garcia, who went five innings in the series opener against Wisconsin-Superior, surrendering eight hits and nine runs. For his first collegiate start, Garcia showed signs of what could make him a starter at the college level.
“He did some really good things,” said Brandt. “He’ll probably go out and start for us this Saturday as well.”
Garcia walked five, but he struck out three, while also getting four batters to fly out and eight to ground out.
“We like what he has out of the bullpen,” Brandt said. “What we haven’t been doing with him is getting that stamina taken care of. He’s kind of that guy that will give you one or two really good innings, but he has the potential to give you five or six really good ones too.”
In the nightcap, the Lions scored six runs over the first two innings and found a way to rack up seven more in the seventh to earn the win.
Junior Patrick Coles had three hits and knocked in four runs. Junior Brian Doyle, sophomore Sawyer Murrell, and juniors Devonte Fleming and Jean Pimentel all had two hits each as the Lions picked up 14 hits.
Fleming also hit a home run, his second of the season, which helped drive the Lions’ offense late in the contest.
“Devonte really broke that game open in the top of the seventh with a three-run home run,” said Brandt. “That kind of sealed the deal there for us.”
Against the Blue Devils, the Lions could only manage three hits in the opener, which they lost 9-0. Murrell went 4 2/3 innings, giving up 11 hits and seven runs. What was more disconcerted was that he do not strike anyone out.
Things went from not good to trouble quickly in the second game Saturday. The Lions lost 6-1. They committed six errors, as Brandt put it, having as many errors as your opponent has runs is not a recipe for success.
Junior Ashton Knutson went seven innings, gave up nine, struck out nine, and issued no walks. Of the four runs scored while he was on the mound, only one was earned.
Sunday morning was not much better.
Senior Brandon Teichman lasted just one inning on the mound, surrendering two runs on three hits. The Lions committed four errors over the course of the game.
In the nightcap, senior Joey Krug struggled through 4 1/3 innings, giving up nine runs, six of which were earned. The team did not help him much, committing five errors.
If there is something more disconcerting than the errors, it is the batting averages of Doyle and Coles, who are hitting .182 and .179, respectively. However, both hitters are making contact, they just have not had much “luck,” as Brandt puts it, in where their hits are going.
“Brian and Pat, those two need to be taking initiative and getting on base,” he said. “They have both hit the ball well. They are just hitting it at guys. It’s just not effective at the moment.”
Brandt feels that both players will work their way out of the slumps they are in.
One player who is coming along well for the Lions is sophomore relief pitcher Will Thompson. Last weekend, Thompson threw 3 1/3 innings and while he does not have electric stuff that will freeze batters, he battles, something Brandt likes a lot.
This weekend, the Lions will face the Wisconsin-Stevens Point Pointers. The Pointers are 9-9 on the season and they feature a very balanced offense led by Payton Anderson and Aaron Simmons who are both hitting over .350 with 20 and 25 RBI, respectively.
The Lions and Pointers will start doubleheaders at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at University Field in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.