|Cloud of dust
With first base flying, Martin Oil’s Mike Albright successfully slides into first base during Martin Oil’s 14-2 win over Steel Connections at Bellwood on Friday evening. (The Daily Herald/Stacey Manning)
Martin Oil manager Ed Davis was worried about his club’s lack of hitting in the early going. Normally a good hitting team over the years, with the exception of three games in a row, in early June, Martin Oil had been held to six hits or less in their other six games. Davis and the Martin Oil coaching staff were hoping when a streak of 12 ballgames in 13 days at the end of the month would be the catalyst to get the sticks going.
With his team struggling to stay above the .500 mark and play competitive baseball, actually falling to 5-6, at one point, the team may be beginning to jell.
On Friday evening, Martin Oil put away their fourth straight win in convincing style, bashing Steel Connections for 11 hits and 14 runs in a five-inning Mercy Rule, 14-2 triumph. This was their fourth game of the last five with double-digit hits, a string that actually began with a 12-10 loss to Barkman Oil/Russell Trucking, which will be considered a turning point if the wins keep coming.
On Friday evening, combined with the hitting parade, was a fine performance on the mound by Nate Plummer. Just a 16-year old newcomer, Plummer had some tough outings to begin the season, but turned in his best effort of the season with a compete-game two-hitter. Plummer struck out seven, walked a pair and threw just one bad pitch, a two-run home run by Noah Langer in the top if the second inning that accounted for all of Steel Connections’ scoring.
Plummer was in trouble just once other than the second inning. In the fourth, a pair of errors and a walk loaded the bases for Steel Connections with one out. Plummer bore down to record a strikeout, and a ground out to first baseman Chad Coho to strand all three base runners.
“Nate Plummer pitched a whale of a ball game,” said Davis. “He got off to some tough outings, but now has pitched well in two straight games and is becoming a force to be reckoned with on our pitching staff. He was throwing strikes, got behind on very few counts, and made them put the ball in play. He had seven strikeouts and only two walks, and had no ball-two strike counts on 10 batters and got outs on all 10.”
Jake Manning walked to begin the bottom half of the first inning, played at Stadium Drive field in Bellwood. Jimmy Watters, who had the best game of his two-year federation career, slugged the third pitch he saw from Steel Connections starter Nick Pettenati on a line drive over the right center field fence for a two-run homer. Coho reached on an error, and Mike Albright belted a double to put runners at second and third. Alex Miller drove in Coho with an RBI grounder and when the ball was thrown away, Albright scored and Miller continued on to second base.
In the second with two outs, Watters and Nate Gray cracked back-to-back doubles, with Watters scoring on Gray’s two-bagger. Coho was hit by a pitch, and Albright, who had his second three-hit game in a row, singled to score Gray,
Up 6-2, Martin Oil batted around and then some in the home half of the fourth. A total of 13 batters paraded to the plate, unlucky for Steel Connections, with eight of them scoring.
Watters rapped his second double to open the inning and closed out the scoring later in the inning, with a bad-hop single to right that scored two runs. Gray and Coho walked, following Watters two-base hit, to load the bases. Albright, who was three-for-three with two walks, against Steel Connections on Wednesday, when the two teams played at Asheville, then blooped a ball into short left field that fell in for a single to score Watters. Alex Miller walked to force home Gray, then Plummer helped himself with a double just inside the third-base line for a double that scored Gray and Coho. Trey Mock walked and with one out, Jake Manning singled on a bad-hop into right to plate Albright and Miller. Watters then scored Zach Doyle and Mock with his fourth base hit of the game.
“We finally may have gotten on track at the plate,” said Davis. “Everybody had a part in the win today. Jimmy Watters and Mile Albright really had terrific days at bat. That is the way we expected them to hit. Plummer helped himself with a single and double. I think, this group may finally be coming together as a team.”
Martin Oil (9-6) hosts second-place ReMax (11-2),. at Bellwood’s Stadium Drive field today at 2 p.m
Martin Oil 14 Steel Connections 2, Inn.
Steel Connections – Smick, cf-p, 3-0-0; N. Pettenati, p-cf, 3-0-0; Link, 2b, 2-0-0; Nash, c, 2-0-1; Jeffries, ss, 1-1-0; Langer, 3b, 1-1-1; Rickens, rf, 2-0-0; McCoy, lf, 1-0-0; A. Pettenati, lf-p, 1-0-0; Bem, 1b, 2-0-0. TOTALS 18-2-2.
Martin Oil – Ja. Manning, c, 3-2-1; Watters, rf, 4-3-4; Gray, ss, 2-2-1; Gorby, ph, 1-0-0; C. Coho, 1b, 1-2-0; Doyle, cr-ph, 1-1-1; Albright, 3b, 3-2-3; Davis, cr-ph, 1-0-0; A. Miller, lf, 2-1-0; Plummer, p, 3-0-2; DeGennaro, cr, 0-0-0; Mock, cf, 2-1-0; J. Coho, 2b, 0-0-0; Kovac, dh, 3-0-0. TOTALS 26-14-11.