Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in The Pine Bluff Commercial.
Pine Bluff-Simmons gave up double-digit runs and couldn’t put together much offense during its game Wednesday against the North Little Rock Colts at Taylor Field in Pine Bluff, 13-0.
“It was tough,” Simmons assistant coach James Mitchell said. “Obviously, it’s frustrating, but that’s baseball.
“Sometimes you come out and just take one on the chin.”
The main force behind that blow to the chin was North Little Rock’s pitcher Connor Eller.
“You can’t say anything bad about our approaches (at the plate),” Mitchell said. “I mean, that’s a good pitcher you’ve got to give that kid credit.”
Eller, who pitches for Crowder College in Neosho, Mo., gave up just four hits and issued two walks with eight strikeouts in a complete-game effort.
Eller stymied the Simmons bats, especially early on as he picked up five strikeouts in the first two frames.
Even still, Simmons had chances to get to Eller.
Simmons’ leadoff batter reached base in five of the seven innings, but once the hitter reached they could never get the big hit.
Or any hit for that matter. When there was a runner on base Simmons’ batters went 0-for-11, including striking out five times and grounding into two double plays.
Despite the final score, Simmons’ pitchers only had two bad innings, but North Little Rock took advantage scoring five runs in the fourth inning and seven in the seventh.
Both innings saw a Simmons pitcher wear down after just a few innings on the hill.
“There were a couple of errors out there,” Mitchell said. “It never helps things when you got to throw extra pitches.”
Simmons’ starting pitcher Josh Dardenne struck out the first batter of the fourth inning, but failed to get any of the next five hitters out and was lifted for Nick Hefley.
Despite giving up an RBI single to the first batter he faced, Hefley pitched well through the sixth inning but struggled in the seventh.
After walking the first two batters of the frame, a sacrifice bunt put runners at second and third with one out. The next two Colts’ hitters singled, then came a double and that was followed by another single.
Jaylen Jackson then came in for Hefley and served up a two-run home run to North Little Rock’s Alex Gosser before settling down to finish the inning.
The Colts wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard against Josh Dardenne.
Justin Weigle, who finished with three singles and a walk, singled to lead off the top of the first inning. After stealing second base, Weigle moved to third on a groundout to second base. Weigle came into score on Nick Cleveland’s hard-hit grounder to Simmons’ shortstop Justin Dardenne. He failed to field the ball cleanly, but Weigle would have scored on the play regardless.
Justin Dardenne led Simmons offensively picking up two of its four hits, including a double to leadoff the fourth inning that turned out to be its only extra-base hit of the game.
Perhaps, the most frustrating part of the evening for Simmons was that they played well against the Colts in the teams’ other meeting this year in the Sheridan Wood Bat Classic.
“We played well against them,” Mitchell said of the first meeting. “Hefley threw well, and we lost maybe 2-1 or 5-1.
“That’s why it’s so disappointing to see that kind of game this time.”