Trojans threaten late but fall short at Pleasant Grove

By: Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
-A +A
The Oak Ridge baseball team entered Thursday having split the first two of its three-game series with Pleasant Grove with one-run ballgames. Thursday afternoon’s result at Pleasant Grove was no different as the Trojans found themselves on the short end of the one-run deficit in a 4-3 loss to the Eagles. Home runs by Zach Stillwell and JQ Folena in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, gave Pleasant Grove starter Matt Stafford a 4-1 cushion. Stafford, a sophomore right-hander, tossed the complete game, including escaping a bases-loaded threat from the Trojans in the seventh inning to help the Eagles take the series. “I actually liked our approach today (at the plate). We’ve been trying to keep the ball out of the air so we hit a lot of balls on the ground and we squared up a couple into the gap that just didn’t find grass,” said Oak Ridge coach Todd Melton. The Trojans gave starter Alex Fitchett a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning. Alec de Watteville led the game off with a single, was bunted to second courtesy of Mason Watkins and scored on a Zack Mahon base hit. For the next five innings, however, the Trojan bats were mostly quiet against Stafford. “(Stafford) was really consistent. He stayed outside and had a pretty good off-speed and didn’t waste pitches. He didn’t walk a lot of guys and he kept his team in the game,” said de Watteville, who went two-for-four at the plate. After Stillwell’s two-run homer over the right field fence in the fourth and Folena’s no-doubter to left in the fifth, Oak Ridge got a run back in the sixth. Watkins chopped a leadoff single over third baseman Austin Friello and was driven home when Lance Berringer sat on a breaking ball for a two-out RBI single to right. Fitchett stranded an Eagle runner at third in the bottom of the sixth before the Trojans loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. Watkins flew out to deep left, enabling Cody Uharriet to tag and score from third, cutting the deficit to one. Mahon then grounded Stafford’s next pitch to Friello, who forced out de Watteville at second to end the game. “We were just trying to poke one in the hole and move guys around (in the seventh),” said Watkins, who played a role in producing all three Trojan runs. “I feel like we’re not utilizing all of our potential that we have. We’re a talented team and we’re capable of beating these teams with ease but we’re just not piecing it together so we’ve just got to figure out our groove.” After losing two of three in each of the first two Delta River League series, Oak Ridge now sits at 2-4 (10-7 overall) and look ahead to play Sheldon (1-4 DRL) next week. “Our backs are to the wall so we’re going to find out what we’re really made of,” said Melton. “It’s not a good feeling. At some point we need to put teams away earlier. We feel we’re as good as anybody, but obviously, we’re not right now. It’s humbling; that’s what baseball is.”