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Wildcats let one slip away
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The game started just the way Head Coach Mitchell Curry wanted. His team had a four run lead after two innings with one of his ace left handed starters, Kevin Matthews, dealing it from the mound.
Things were looking like his team might easily avenge the 11-4 loss they suffered at the hands of the Yellow Jackets just six days earlier.
Then a pitching change by Wayne County turned it all on its ear.
Wayne County’s Tyler Palmer relieved in the second inning after that four run lead had been given up and earned the win by not allowing another run, or hit, the rest of the way.
In spite of solid pitching from Matthews, Brett Auger, Billy Kilmer, Cody Crow, and Josh Candelario it was Palmer’s dominance and some help from a porous Wildcat defense that allowed the Yellow Jackets to get back in the game, tie it in the seventh and win it in the ninth by an 8-4 margin.  
“The wheels fell off in the ninth inning,” said Curry.
The four Wildcat errors in the inning led to four unearned runs and pinned the loss on senior hurler Josh Candelario who came in to pitch the ninth. It was a key error in the pivotal seventh that hurt the most.
With one out, nobody on base and 4-3 lead, Richmond Hill’s closer, Cody Crow, gave up a hard single to left field that was misplayed and turned into a game-tying three base error. Crow struck out the next two batters and would have left that tying run at first base.
Wildcat pitchers had sixteen strikeouts, but the bats did not produce beyond the second inning. The defense committed eight errors as well.
Add to that some missed opportunities to advance runners on failed sacrifice bunts and some base running mistakes and Curry had to be wondering how his team was still in the game by the seventh.
Crow, who started the game with a triple and then scored, also had an RBI single in the second that would be the Wildcats’ final hit and provide the only notable offense.
“We didn’t deserve to win... and we can’t beat teams in our region if we can’t play defense,” Curry said.
Last Friday, the team traveled to Bradwell and picked up a 7-3 non-region win.
In that game Ryan Esenwein got the win. Conner Mitchell went 2 for 3 with 2 doubles, Cody Rushing had a double and 2 RBI’s and Alex Real had a two hit night.
The game was more like what Curry and his coaching staff would like to see, but Bradwell is not the same caliber team that Wayne or most of the region teams they will soon face are, and at least one of the coaches thinks they should have won by a larger margin.
Curry told his team after the Wayne County game that “good teams expose your weaknesses.”
Now the Wildcats have to hope their good side can start exposing their opposition’s weaknesses.
The Wildcats are now 3-3 on the season. Richmond Hill was scheduled to open their region against Thomson at home Friday but that game has been rained out. They will travel to West Laurens Saturday for a 1 p.m. first pitch.
- Terry Logan
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