White Oak eliminates Mineola
Yellowjacket baseball had very few bad innings in the 2022 campaign. It was one of those few tough innings which spelled the end of their campaign last Friday. They fell to the White Oak Roughnecks, …
White Oak eliminates Mineola
Yellowjacket baseball had very few bad innings in the 2022 campaign. It was one of those few tough innings which spelled the end of their campaign last Friday. They fell to the White Oak Roughnecks, 5-1, in the area round match-up in Mt. Pleasant.
The Jackets gave up four runs in the bottom of the first and gave themselves a mountain to climb.
The lead-off Roughneck drew a base-on-balls and was sacrificed to second with an excellent bunt. A single, a stolen base and a walk loaded the bases. Two consecutive singles – a line drive to left and a grounder right up the middle – chalked up three RBIs for White Oak.
The fourth Roughneck run came on a routine 5-3 ground ball put-out, which would have ended the inning. Despite the ball reaching first well before the baserunner, the batter was deemed safe. After a brief discussion with Coach Russell Bowker, the umpire’s call stood. A run scored on the play. Brady Shrum then hauled in a fly ball to center to end the inning.
It was a tough start. White Oak’s initial base hit of the game was a soft liner which was almost the defensive play of the game. Mineola second baseman Dalton Hamlin came a long way across the diamond and made a diving attempt on the ball, on the third base side of the infield. The ball bounced out of the heel of his glove.
The White Oak line-up had an initial bead on Yellowjacket starter Spencer Joyner. Joyner consistently left his pitches low in the first inning and gave up two walks – an uncharacteristic start for him. The Roughnecks hit the ball hard in the first and second innings.
Joyner settled in, however, at one point retiring 11 Roughneck hitters in a row through the middle innings.
What the Jackets needed were baserunners, and they were hard to come by against White Oak hurler Landon Anderson. The tall right-hander spread five Jacket hits, struck out four and issued only one free pass.
Until picking up a single run in the top of the seventh, the Jackets managed only four baserunners.
The best chance for a rally came in the third. Shrum beat-out an infield base hit. Hamlin put a nicely-placed bunt in play. Shrum pushed hard and made third on the play. That brought up the top of the order with a runner in scoring position and one away.
Coy Anderson’s chopper to third was fielded cleanly, as Shrum had broken for home. The Roughnecks made a nice throw and tag and clipped Shrum at home plate. Cason Davis then drew a walk, before Braydon Alley went down on a 6-4 ground ball. The inning closed and the opportunity evaporated.
Each team turned in solid defensive and pitching performances through the middle innings. The lights had barely become necessary when the Jackets suddenly were down to their last three outs.
As he had all season, Joyner sparked the Jackets. He led off the top of the seventh by stroking a single to right. He took second on a fielder’s choice and scored on a throwing error by the Roughneck third baseman.
It was not enough. White Oak recorded the last two outs with swinging strike-outs, and the Yellowjacket campaign came to a close.
Even in a painful loss, there was plenty of quality baseball. Joyner’s competitiveness, at the plate (he went 2-for-3 on the night) and on the mound was remarkable. It appeared as though White Oak had scouted Joyner very well and anticipated his pitch selection in the first two innings. Once those innings were behind him, Joyner threw an outstanding game. He spread only four hits over the last five innings. The additional White Oak run, tallied in the sixth, was unearned on a fielding error.
It is not often that an outfielder makes more than one notable catch in a game. In the expansive outfield at Tiger Stadium, Mineola left fielder Alley made three excellent catches.
In the second inning, Alley made the initial out with a catch at the wall. He had his right hand extended against the left field wall while making the catch on a deep drive for the initial out. Four batters later, he ended the inning by taking a liner off the top of the grass.
His third memorable catch was a hot line drive which necessitated exactly the right read. Alley never hesitated. He moved quickly to his left and took the catch after closing three strides. It was textbook outfield play.