Baseball Mohawks Fall in Regional Play

Thursday, May 11, 2017
Mohawk senior Bret Fuller makes an acrobatic move to throw out a Clinton runner during regional play Saturday at Manila.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

The Piggott Mohawk's baseball season ended Saturday morning in the first round of the regional tournament at Manila. The Tribe dropped a 14-1 decision to the Clinton Yellowjackets in a game which had been postponed from two days earlier due to the weather. Rusty from the delay, the Mohawk never got on track and fell by virtue of the run rule in five innings.

The Mohawks went fairly quietly in the first inning as they faced the Yellowjacket's sinker-ball style pitcher, with the first two batters striking out. Batting third, Dylan Bellers was hit by a pitch and took first, but clean-up man Bret Fuller popped out to end the threat.

Josh Lyman got the start on the mound, and took the loss, giving up three runs in the first inning. The Yellowjacket lead-off man set the tone with a sharp grounder to the right, which found its way to the fence, but he was thrown out at third trying to stretch the play. The next batter also ripped a ground ball to left, then Lyman hit the next batter, and walked the following, to load the bases.

A ground ball back to the mound followed, with Lyman throwing to catcher Jackson Henfling for the force. The next batter hit a sharp grounder to Quentin Reeves at short, which handcuffed him allowing the first run the score.

The Tribe got the second out on a fielder's choice, with Reeves throwing out the base runner on another hot grounder to short for the third.

In the top of the second Trey Gossett hit a pop fly, Lyman went down swinging and John Jones was hit by a pitch. But, moments later he was stranded aboard as Henfling struck out looking.

In the bottom of the inning the Yellowjacket lead-off man drew a walk to start the frame, prompting the second visit to the mound by Mohawk Coach Alan Rabjohn, and a pitching change.

Senior Bret Fuller came on in relief, but immediately had trouble finding the strike zone. As a result, Clinton plated three more runs in the home half of the second to take a 6-0 lead.

The Yellowjackets continued to feast on Mohawk pitching as the game progressed, taking an 8-0 lead after three and extending it to the final in the fourth. Late in the contest Michael Palmer also came on in relief for the Tribe.

Late in the going the Mohawks began to adapt to the submarine pitching style, breaking the goose egg with a run of their own. But, it was too-little, too-late.

Following the contest Rabjohn noted the Clinton pitcher did pose some issues for his squad.

“You know it's the first time this year we've seen someone with that style, we haven't seen anything like that,” he noted. “It's a different arm angle, and it's tough to pick the ball up. But, as you can see we picked up late on it. We just didn't get enough at-bats, to get our guys around enough times to see him enough that we could jump on him. But, I'm really proud of the effort.”

The first year coach also pointed to the delay as a key to the slow start.

“You know, I think more than anything the week off hurt us,” he explained. “We were on a roll, we got some quality wins and our pitchers were throwing well. And, I think the time off from the district tournament to the regional may have got us a little bit. But, you gotta throw strikes to win games.”

After getting off to a slow start on the season, the young Mohawks improved each week down the stretch. And, the good news for Rabjohn is the fact only one regular starter will be lost to graduation.

“I told the guys after the game, don't let this loss define your season,” he offered. “You know we started out in a little bit of a slump, and they didn't give up—they fought back, and that shows you a lot when you've got a young team.”

Rabjohn also noted his satisfaction with the way the squad played down the stretch.

“We got on a pretty good roll there, and ended up finishing at 11-11, but we did it with a lot of youth—a lot of guys who haven't been on the field before in this situation.” he added. “But, I'm proud of the team and I think we've got a lot to look forward to. We do need to grow-up a little bit, and there's a few things we can work on over the course of the next off-season, but I'm really looking forward to coming back next year, too.”

The one senior with a key starting role is Fuller, who will be sorely missed by the Mohawk coaches.

“I'm sure gonna' miss Bret Fuller,” Rabjohn surmised. “You know he's a leader, and he's a guy who comes out and gets everything ready—he's just irreplaceable and I just love him to death. And I know whatever he does he'll be successful at it, because he's a hard worker and he's a good kid.”

With the win the Yellowjackets moved into the semi-finals, and were beaten by Corning 7-5 Monday afternoon. In the other semi, the host Lions got by Riverside 6-4 to advance to the championship game. In the third place game it was Riverside over Clinton 12-1 while the Bobcats edged the Lions in the final 5-4. All four advance to next week's state tournament at Harrison.

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