Lessons plentiful for Bobcats in 5-inning loss to Cyclones
The score was 0-0 Tuesday night against Bishop Ward when Basehor-Linwood first baseman Cody McCoy stepped up to lead off the top of the second innning.
Every time McCoy had played the Cyclones in the past, they had busted him inside with fastballs. The senior would be looking for a heater. Cyclones pitcher Aaron Quisenberry obliged, but left the ball over the plate. McCoy crushed it into right field for a double.
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, it would be their only hit of the night. The Cyclones bats heated up shortly thereafter en route to a 12-0 five-inning clinic.
McCoy's at-bat represented a key point: the team's only senior was able to deduce what a stellar pitcher was thinking and had the discipline to act on it. McCoy's young teammates are still learning to do the same.
"The young kids are trying to do everything that they can to get us out all by themselves," BLHS coach Dave Svoboda said. "That is a trait of some young kids, whereas Cody's double off of Quisenberry is just an example of a kid that has been there once or twice and knows he is going to get a fastball early in the count."
The Cyclones scored four runs in each of the second, third, and fourth innings to enact the 10-run rule.
The Bobcats committed three errors and allowed six unearned runs.
Justin Gripka pitched two innings, surrendering eight runs, four of which were earned. Ryan Lawless relieved Gripka during a tumultuous third inning and was able to retire the first three batters he faced. Lawless allowed four runs, two of which were earned.
Were the Bobcats, who also lost 12-0 to the Cyclones earlier in the season, pressing against a traditional powerhouse?
"Definitely," McCoy said. "They are an intimidating team and a great program. With us being so young, maybe it got in our heads a little bit."
The Bobcats' coach agreed.
"There is no question," Svoboda said. "It is a situation where you get a kid like Lawless out on the mound and he is trying to be too fine instead of going after them. Coming in, he tried to do too much. With a young team, there is no substitute for game experience."
There are problems that will have to be rectified in order for the team to be able to compete with the Cyclones in the future.
"We have to eliminate the small mistakes," McCoy said. "We have to be able to go after batters confidently with the 3-2 count. We have to go up and know we can hit any pitcher. It really takes a very strong team to compete with Bishop Ward."
Svoboda would like another shot at the Cyclones in the postseason.
"I told our guys, and I believe it, that Bishop Ward is a very good team, but they aren't 12-0, 12-0 better than us," Svoboda said. "If we had another chance to prove that this year, it would be in regionals, and I would like a chance to prove it. We are a much better team than we have shown in the two times that we have played them."
Although Quisenberry only allowed one run over five innings in the shutout, Svoboda believed the standout pitcher didn't have the same stuff that he brought to the mound in the team's first encounter.
"Our situation at the plate was better than the first time we faced him," Svoboda said. "I thought he was imminently more hittable tonight. The thing he was able to do, he established his fastball and worked it low, low, low. He was getting the calls from the umpire, and when you have a pitcher that good to begin with and extend his strike zone, he is going to be awfully hard to beat."
Svoboda said his young team could learn something from the star pitcher.
"We have to believe that we can do things, that we can overcome mistakes," Svoboda said. "We have to work aggressively. I pointed it out to the guys: Quisenberry had two strikes at the end of the game and two outs. He walked behind the mound, rubbed his hand in the dirt, charged up the mound and was kind of like, 'Hey, I'm ending this right now.' That kind of attitude is something that can be coached, can be assisted, but really comes from within."
The team will have to bounce back quickly from defeat. They play 10 games in eight days starting on Thursday.
Can the team battle back?
"It depends on how we go into tomorrow's practice and Thursday's game," McCoy said. "If we go into tomorrow's practice and think about what we did wrong here and how we can capitalize on our mistakes, then I think we can. Bishop Ward is a very good team. If we let losses like this shake our confidence, then the mental mistakes will keep coming."
Thursday, the Bobcats will travel to Bonner Springs to take on the rival Braves. The first pitch of the doubleheader is scheduled for 4 p.m.