Jammers Can’t Hold Late Lead, Lose Fifth Of Last Six
Three times this week, the Jamestown Jammers held a lead in the sixth inning or later before losing the game.
The latest example was Sunday, when the Jammers led 5-4 entering the ninth inning before a 7-5 Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League loss to the Newark Pilots.
The defeat, coupled with the Geneva Red Wings’ 18-7 victory over the Onondaga Flames cut the Jammers’ first-place lead in the West Division to just four games heading into the league’s all-star break.
“I am concerned — not a great deal — but I think there are things to be concerned about,” Jamestown Jammers manager Anthony Barone said. “My biggest concern is just finishing a game.”
Sunday’s loss fell on the shoulders of Colin Johnston (Monroe Community College), who entered after the Jammers took a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. Newark’s Josh Loeffler opened the ninth with a single before a four-pitch walk to Zach Santoro. The Pilots’ Mark McKenna then sacrificed the runners to second and third before a walk to Graham Hackbarth loaded the bases.
Hunter Wells chopped the first pitch he saw toward first base where the ball glanced off the glove of a leaping Ben Brookover (University of Texas-San Antonio) and fell into shallow right field. Loeffler and pinch-runner Christian Orr both scored on the play while Hackbarth advanced all the way to third base.
“That was a tough play. He wasn’t playing back as far as we would’ve liked and it had some spin on it,” Barone said. “I think we only get one out there. We aren’t going to turn a double play. … I don’t think that is what cost us the game.”
Will Allocca then lifted a high fly ball down the first-base line where it was caught by second baseman Jimmy Standohar (Mercyhurst University). Hackbarth tagged up and scored on the play to give last-place Newark an insurance run.
Kyle Griffen relieved Henry Martinez (3-2) and retired the first two Jammers before a walk and a ground out in the bottom of ninth inning for his fourth save of the season.
“We were beating some really good arms early in the year,” Barone said. “The last week or so we’ve faced some guys that on paper we should beat, but the game’s not played on paper. There comes a time too where five or six runs should be enough.”
Jamestown led 1-0 after the first inning as Christ Conley (Canisius College) led off with a walk, moved to second on a Chris Stefl (St. John’s University) single, and scored on a Skyler Valentine (UTSA) RBI single.
The Pilots took a 2-1 in the top of the third inning off Jamestown starter Chris Vallimont (Mercyhurst University) as Loeffler led off with a single, went to second on a passed ball and scored on Hackbarth’s RBI single. After a stolen base, Hackbarth scored on Wells’ RBI double.
“I’d like to see Chris get past the fourth or fifth inning,” Barone said. “He threw a lot of pitches. I’d like to see him get deeper into games.”
Newark added on in the top of the fifth inning as Hackbarth and Wells worked one-out walks to spell the end of the Vallimont’s day. Isaac Meza (CSU Bakersfield) relieved and induced a fielder’s choice for the second out, but Over Torres’ two-run double down the third-base line gave the Pilots a 4-1 lead.
“I think our mentality has gotten away from us a little bit,” Barone said. ” … on the mound we’ve been very poor with two outs. I think it’s something like 78 percent of runs have come with two outs against us. There are a couple of things that need to change for us to get back to winning.”
The Jammers got a run back in the bottom half of the frame as Conley led off with a double into the left-field corner before scoring two batters later on Brookover’s RBI double to right field.
Jamestown tied the game with a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Conley reached on a one-out single and Stefl reached on a fielder’s choice that the Pilots’ second baseman threw away for an error. Brookover’s RBI single scored Conley before Stefl scored on an RBI single by Chris Estrada (UTSA).
The Jammers took the lead back in the bottom of the eighth inning as Standohar was hit by a pitch with one out, went to second on a passed ball and scored on another RBI single by Brookover.
“He has an approach at the plate and he’s stuck with it,” Barone said about Brookover, who is tied for third in the league with 30 RBIs. “He battles and takes what the pitcher gives him. He does a good job of that.”
Jamestown, now 4-6 in its last 10, including 2-6 in its last eight, will now have to battle through an all-star “break” that will see 12 of its players leave for Amsterdam at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday before returning home at around 5 a.m. Wednesday morning. The Jammers will then turn around and host second-place Geneva at 7:05 p.m. that night.
“I’m glad our guys are representing the team and the organization. Hopefully we take care of our bodies and get back to where we need to be Wednesday night,” Barone said. “It’s a blessing to have all these guys make the all-star game, but with a total of five pitchers going … it puts you in a little bit of a predicament. … It’s been challenging to say the least.”
NOTES: Collin Stack (University of Maryland-Baltimore County) went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts to see his average drop to .288 on the season. The Maple Grove graduate is now 3 for his last 21. “Teams have sort of got a scouting report on him now,” Barone said. “They’ve been beating with some sliders and off-speed stuff. He needs to make that change and adjust to that.”