Prep baseball: Riverside coach patient through growing pains
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Riverside's one-run defeat to Hurricane in the Ed Carter Memorial Tournament isn't indicative of how close the Warriors are to one of the Kanawha Valley's best programs.
That remains, however, one of their goals.
"We're making two or three mental mistakes defensively that cost us a couple runs and two or three mental errors offensively that cost us runs," said third-year Riverside Coach Chris Hawkins. "If you throw strikes and eliminate mental mistakes, you win games and then you'll see other teams making those mental mistakes."
Riverside is sitting at 6-8 and on a three-game losing streak. The Warriors won their first three games of the season, but were favored in every one - against Ravenswood, Beckley and Sherman.
They are averaging more than two errors per game and have surrendered 21 unearned runs.
In Friday's 10-2 loss to George Washington, starting pitcher Cam Norris held a 2-1 lead until the fifth inning when the Patriots scored four runs - after Norris got the leadoff batter to pop out.
In the sixth, GW scored five more beginning with a Tanner Sorrells home run to start the inning, helping Norris' earned run average balloon to 8.47.
Later Friday, they dropped a 3-2 decision to Hurricane and, on Saturday, lost 8-7 to St. Albans at Loftis Field.
None of this is overly concerning to Hawkins, who, at 26 years old, is one of the state's youngest head coaches.
"I'm not thrilled that we're 6-8," he said. "I thought we would be a lot further along. But, at the same time, I'd rather see us get hot at the end of the season. You look at Hurricane. Last year they were hot all year long and then hit a wall in the sectionals."
No starters for Riverside are batting higher than .400 and the Warriors have just two home runs.
Senior Tyler Hall has been Riverside's model of consistency. He's batting .359 with a team-leading 11 RBI and is only one of two starters who have walked (7) more times than he has struck out (5). The other is Derik Chestnut with 10 walks and 8 strikeouts. Leadoff hitter Trevor Rumberg is second on the team in walks with nine.
On the mound, Hall is 2-2 with 40 strikeouts, nine walks and a 2.39 earned run average in 291/3 innings.
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NITRO COACH Steve Pritchard is the first one to admit his team just isn't very good right now.
"Are we making dumb mistakes? Yea," said Pritchard, whose team is 9-4 but has won three consecutive games. "We made them all year. Five out of our first seven outs (against Logan) were dumb mental mistakes. I'm just going to call them. They're dumb."
Among them was batter's interference, a courtesy runner being caught stealing because he slid into the fielder's glove and a batter with a 3-1 count swinging at two balls high and away.
Logan's two seventh-inning runs came without a hit and was the third time the first batter of an inning reached base. Also, Nitro went 3-for-19 that game with seven strikeouts and twice caught looking.
"I don't think anybody's good enough to give away that many outs," Pritchard said. "They're in our section and they're good. They don't need any motivation to beat us, but their first run's a leadoff walk, their second run's a leadoff walk, their third run's an error. Their fourth run was a wild pitch. You're never going to beat Logan by giving them four runs."
On Wednesday in a 5-1 loss to Hurricane, the Redskins had a four-run first inning with help from catcher's interference with two outs. The batter was Tate Brock and he scored when Connor Adams hit his second home run of the season.
In a 9-6 win over Spring Valley, the Wildcats committed three errors, but were saved by nine miscues by the Timberwolves.
In the Daffer Tournament at Chapmanville on Friday, Nitro topped Wayne 5-4, but had two errors in a three-run seventh inning for the Pioneers.
Finally, an 11-10 win over Capital, also in the Daffer Tournament, the Wildcats had a fifth-inning error which helped the Cougars piece together a five-run frame.
Despite the many untimely errors, Nitro has committed only 22 in 13 games (1.69 per game). In comparison, Hurricane - which is 13-3 - has 29 errors in 16 games (1.81), but is 13-3.
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HERBERT HOOVER has its winning streak to 13 games - the longest since Coach Brian Young replaced Kevin Buckner in 2008.
The Huskies, who have won 15 straight regular season games since a 4-1 loss to Point Pleasant on May 1, 2012, have a team earned run average of 1.09.
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GEORGE WASHINGTON'S Clayton Anderson has had a big week, going 7-for-18 with a home run and 10 RBI since April 8. He also has cut down on his strikeouts with three in six games after 10 in the previous 10 games.
His batting average jumped from .306 on April 8 to .360 entering today.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837.