Errors costly in New Riegel’s district final loss

FINDLAY – McComb coach Rob Quiroga said his Panthers had not turned a “conventional” double play all season.

They’d have a catch and a runner get doubled off a few times, and other plays where two outs were recorded.

But through 22 games, McComb had yet to turn a grounder into a twin killing.

Until Friday’s district final against New Riegel, when the Panthers did it twice.

Pitcher Clay Grubb started a beautiful 1-6-3 double play to disconnect a potential Blue Jacket rally in the second, and two innings later, a grounder to shortstop Mitch Schroeder produced another DP.

“That was really huge,” Quiroga said. “We’ve had them before, but not like that.”

Grubb did the rest, and the Panthers capitalized on some shaky New Riegel defense to beat the Blue Jackets, 7-1 at Marathon Diamonds.

McComb advanced to the regionals for the first time in the program’s history.

New Riegel’s chances of moving on were severely hindered in the first inning, when it committed three errors leading to a five-run McComb outburst.

Blaine Hughes started for the Blue Jackets, and allowed just one hit ball to leave the infield, and the only hit of the inning was a bunt single by Schroeder.

But Hughes didn’t get much help once the ball was in play. Four of the five runs the Panthers scored in the inning were unearned. The miscues continued after that inning for New Riegel. By games end, it’d been charged with nine errors.

“If you look past the first inning, looking at the scoreboard right now, it’s 2-0, or 2-1,” New Riegel coach Jarron Reesman said. “I mean, that changes the whole complexion of the ballgame. If we don’t have (three) errors in the first inning … that changes it. It gave them confidence.”

It did appear to boost Grubb, who held New Riegel scoreless until the final innings. He had five strikeouts, didn’t walk a batter, and allowed just six hits over a complete seven innings.

“I’m ecstatic about Clay,” Quiroga said. “He threw 77 pitches, and he was good.

“I’ve used Clay most of the season as my relief,” he said. ” Come in at the end of the game, close ’em out. We didn’t use the pitchers much this year, and right now is the time we’re gonna use them.”

New Riegel finally got to Grubb in the seventh. Brady Hall and Brandyn Reinhart opened the frame with infield singles, but Grubb rebounded to retire the next two hitters.

That brought up Acree, who ripped an RBI single to left to score pinch runner Grant Lescallett with the Blue Jackets lone run.

Grubb got the next batter, John Zoeller, to fly to right to end the game.

“We fought tooth and nail to the end,” Reesman said.

Hughes went three innings, allowing six runs, but only one was earned. He was relieved by Austin Mathias, who pitched the final three innings and allowed an unearned run.

“I thought Blaine threw a really good game.” Reesman said. “He found the strike zone, you’ve just got to play defense behind him. Then Austin came in. That kid, for a freshman, that kid’s been pretty much lights out all year.

New Riegel wraps its season 15-11.