By BLAKE FAITH
The Mt. Zion baseball season ended last week after a 4-1 loss against Sacred Heart Griffin in regional semifinal play.
The Braves offense started off in the first inning when Toney Alford was walked and Jackson Beiler hit a two-out single to the center-field gap. The Braves offense ended when Drew Hittmeier hit into a 4-3 groundout.
Sam Driscoll issued a walk in his first pitching file of the game, but regained his composure after making a double play. Driscoll caught the bunt in the air and then threw it back to first for the out.
After another shutout inning, the Braves struck first. Alford got on base with an infield-hit. Alford got himself into scoring position and then Beiler hit an infield-hit to bring in Alford to give the Braves a 1-0 lead after the top of the third.
In the bottom of the third, Sacred Heart Griffin struck back. The Cyclones first two batters were out on base. RJ Jimersom made contact to get one run across and another run scored to give the Cyclones a 2-1 lead. Then with one runner on base, Mitch Dye hit a two-run home run over the right-field wall to put the Cyclones up 4-1.
Over the next three innings, the Braves produced four base-runners, but couldn’t get a run out of them. The Braves season ended in a 4-1 loss.
“That’s the team that we had at the beginning of the year and the team we were kind of searching for the last couple of weeks,” Head coach J.D. Arnold said. “We found something that clicked last week of practice and we played well. We hung pitch for pitch with them the whole time. And that’s a team that played in the state state tournament last year. We had a bad inning where a hit by pitch might have been a foul ball and then walked the nine hole guy that’s gonna do it too. That’s gonna give up the runs for you right there.”
The Braves ended their season 8-18 overall. This was the first year with Coach Arnold at the helm of the program. Ethan Hamrick, Aiden Page, Kolby Koslofski and Gavin McInerney.
“It was probably pretty difficult for them to come in with a brand new coach being their senior year, but I just told them that I can’t thank him enough for what they did,” Coach Arnold said. “For two and a half months, they gave me all they had. Being a stranger to them before that things worked out really well. I’m really proud of those guys. Those guys helped me to lay a foundation for what we want to do in this program.”
A huge chunk of the Braves lineup is returning with most of them being freshman and sophomores this year. Coach Arnold described his team as young and competitive.
“I would say we’re pretty competitive,” Coach Arnold said. “We’re young but we’re competitive. And that’s a good thing moving forward. We’re not going to make as many mistakes as we did last year. Our JV team got better as the year went on and had a good year. So the future is pretty bright. We just can’t get complacent and we have to continue to come in and go to work.”