Admirals don’t record a hit, still top E’town 3-2

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Danville’s bats? Bad.

The rest of the Admirals’ game? Good.

Danville was no-hit by two Elizabethtown pitchers but won 3-2 thanks to some opportunistic baserunning and a strong defensive performance.

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“I think that’s a first in 19 years,” Danville head coach Paul Morse said. “But it’s like I told them, it’s hard to get mad at you when we’re 11-1, winning the game. But we did not have good at-bats. You want to be aggressive, but you’ve got to be aggressive within the strike zone. We just swung at so many bad pitches today and got ourselves out.”

E’town opened the scoring with a passed ball in the third inning, then doubled its lead on a home run by Kade Bailey in the fourth.

Danville would respond in the bottom half of the inning, and it started with a walk: Ethan Wood received a free pass, stole second and third, then scored on a hard-hit ground ball by Brady Morse. The ball was bobbled by the E’town shortstop, allowing Brady Morse to reach first.

The Admirals were down 2-1 after four innings, had walked four times and didn’t have a hit.

“Our focus today wasn’t very good,” coach Morse said. “We’ve been playing a lot of games in a short amount of time, that happens sometimes. But we just didn’t come out focused from the start today, and we’ve kind of had the habit of doing that in a few games this year.”

With the order set to turn over in the fifth inning, coach Morse gathered his team and motivated them to be aggressive in the strike zone, not out of it.

“We just kind of go through the motions the first time through the order, then all of a sudden we’re down 2-0 in the third, fourth inning and we say, ‘oh, hey, we’ve got to play,’” coach Morse said. “We’ve got to change that, we’re going to change our pregame warmups a little bit and do some different things to get more motivated early in games.”

In the fifth inning, it appeared to be more of the same, with two Admirals striking out to begin the frame.

“We’ve just got to get a little more focused offensively,” coach Morse said. “I don’t think it’s that we’re not swinging the bats well, it’s just that we’re being too aggressive in counts where we need to be more selective.”

Brady Baxter would walk to get things started. His courtesy runner, Noah Goodman, would advance to third after back-to-back walks to Jacob Crank and Preston Barnes.

A pickoff attempt at first would sail into the outfield, allowing Goodman to score. Crank and Barnes advanced into scoring position and the Panthers opted to intentionally walk Wood.

With the bases loaded, the Admirals advanced Wood and Barnes at first and second, respectively. Wood was caught between first and second but Crank would score at the plate before Wood was tagged out, giving Danville a 3-2 lead.

“We were giving at bats away, we had not-so-smart baserunning at times,” coach Morse said. “We had to manufacture some runs other ways.”

Danville continued to struggle at the plate but its pitching and defense kept E’town off of the board the rest of the game. Baxter would pitch two scoreless innings of relief after Cayden Shaver opened the game with four innings pitched.

Wood entered in the seventh and closed the game with three strikeouts in 11 pitches.

“You can’t say enough about pitching, Cayden is coming back from a little injury so we’re taking him slow to start this year,” coach Morse said. “We’ve had some other guys step up and Brady Baxter has pitched great for us out of the bullpen, throwing a lot of strikes. He did a good job there, then having the big guy there at the end to close is always nice. That’s what we’re trying to do, stay fresh for the end of the year. Ethan hasn’t started a game in more than a week.”

Danville’s pitching has been its strength in recent games, with three shutouts in the last six games.

“Being 11-1 and we’re not playing our best baseball, that’s not a bad thing,” coach Morse said. “It’s early in the year, we’ll keep going out there and take it one game at a time. Once our bats get going, I love our pitching, I like our defense a lot. Those are the things that win games a majority of the time. If we do start hitting, we’ll be scary.”