(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Their slump continues.
The Charleston Bluejays have dropped their previous four games including their last against Notre Dame on Thursday night during wood bat Cancer Night at Notre Dame High School, 5-0.
"It's the same old story," Charleston head coach Michael Minner said. "We don't know if we had a shot to win or not. We're too far into the season and we're not being real successful at the little things and the little things will beat you every time. That's been evident."
With their best option starting on the mound, Charleston looked to get off the snide by putting the ball in James Naile's hands and, for the most part, Naile was effective. He gave up three earned runs on seven hits and struck out four.
"I thought James pitched well," Minner said. "But, I thought we tried to be a little too fine against their hitters. We'd miss a corner there and then miss a corner here and, all of a sudden, the count is 2-0 and we turn good hitters into great hitters.
"(Notre Dame) did a good job of getting good cuts though."
But, the crafty Bulldogs managed to get their leadoff batter on base for the first three innings. And each time, that player came around to score.
"With wood bats, that's really what you have to try and do," Notre Dame head coach Jeff Graviett said. "You try to play for a run an inning and we were fortunate to do that the first three."
After getting their leadoff man aboard, the Bulldogs bunted with their very next batter advancing the runner to scoring position every time save for one -- Notre Dame's Kyle Campbell advanced to second on a failed pickoff attempt at first in the first inning.
Campbell later scored on an infield error during Eric Hayes' at-bat to go up 1-0 in the first.
"We're starting to fall into that mode of when a few things go against us, we're all of a sudden waiting for something bad to happen instead of getting it done," Minner said. "We've got to change that approach or else our seasons not going to go the way we want it to."
The second inning led off with a double by Jessie Schott. Nathan Beussink immediately bunted him over to third and then was sacrificed home on a fly ball out to centerfield by Alex Beussink.
Notre Dame's third run came in the third inning when Campbell, who reached first on a infield single, was bunted to second by Jonathan Lynch and then pushed across by a hit from Tyler Buelow.
"I think the big thing from us today was that we only struck out four times," said Graviett. "We really wanted to concentrate on putting the ball in play and did a good job of doing that."
Naile went on to keep Notre Dame (8-1) off the scoreboard for the fourth and fifth innings but couldn't contain them for long.
Although Naile was hurt by two errors in the sixth inning, Cody Heisserer and Alex Beussink each added hits. Heisserer scored on Alex Beussink's hit and Schott, who reached first on one of the two errors of the inning, scored on the second error of the inning.
Although there weren't many chances for the Bluejays' offense to threaten Notre Dame starter Eric Hayes, the opportunities they did have were squandered by the Bluejays themselves.
Instances of runners being cut down trying to take second after botched hit-and-run attempts, getting caught in a rundowns and running themselves out of innings are becoming a bitter constant according to Minner.
"The ball game boils down to you have to give yourself a chance offensively," said Minner. "We didn't give ourselves that chance. We're taking those chances away."
Hayes kept Charleston at bay. He allowed five hits and two walks. He also struck out five with a mix of curveballs and fastballs that kept the Bluejays off balance.
"He was throwing a lot of strikes and changing speeds with his breaking ball and that's what he's done for us all year," Graviett said about Hayes. "He's not going to overpower anybody but he has other teams put the ball in play and we made plays behind him."
The best chance Charleston (4-5) had to score against Hayes was in the top of the second. With one out, Naile hit a double in the right-center gap which was followed by a single by Ethan Browning and a throwing error that allowed Danny McKinney to reach first.
However, the Bluejays then struck out and grounded out to end the inning.
Notre Dame had seven hits -- all by different batters. Schott had a double while Derek Landewee hit a triple down the right field line in the fourth inning.
Naile led Charleston with two hits. Watkins, Browning and Stallings each added one hit apiece in the loss.
"We're going to have to keep fighting," said Minner. "I tell myself every night that we've got to put it behind us. But, you know, each one gets a little tougher to put behind you."
Charleston 000 000 0 -- 0
Notre Dame 111 002 x -- 5
WP -- Eric Hayes. LP -- James Naile. 2B -- (C) Naile; (N) Jessie Schott. 3B -- (N) Derek Landewee.