(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
BENTON --Unable to fight back from an early seven-run deficit on Thursday, the Charleston Bluejays fell 14-6 to the Kelly Hawks.
"You have to fight your way out of situations like this," Charleston head coach Michael Minner said. "We kicked some balls early and gave up some easy runs, but overall today was probably the most pleased that I've been.
"I thought we fought and stayed in the ball game. When we're down 9-2, we could have probably laid down and just taken one on the chin, but we didn't. For what ever reason today we fought a little bit and gave ourselves a chance to stay in the ball game."
After taking their only lead of the game in the top off an error that allowed leadoff hitter Trey Watkins to reach before coming around to score, the Bluejays quickly found themselves in a hole.
Aaron Grainger led off the bottom of the first with a single to become the first of four straight Hawks to reach base and score.
Though Charleston (1-8) rallied for another run in top of the second to close back to within two runs, Kelly (4-6) answered with their biggest inning of the contest in the bottom of the frame.
Getting a leadoff walk from Austin Wadlington, batting at the bottom of the order, the Hawks proceeded to put runners on first and second before a single from Matt Proctor drove in the first run of the frame.
A fielder's choice from Ian Householder and double by Jeff Gates drove in the next two runs before a single up the middle from Gaven Ray brought home runner from second and third to cap the rally.
"When a team makes some errors you have to put them away when you get a chance," Kelly head coach Josh Eftink said. "Early on we scored some runs and did what we suppose to when the other team throws the ball around, but then we started doing it and let them back in the game."
Down 9-2, Charleston made its biggest push of the night in the top of third with a three run rally that started with a leadoff walk to Michael Baugh.
A single by Ryan Housman eventually plated Baugh from third before an bases-loaded walk to Trey Watkins brought in another two runs to close the Bluejays deficit to 9-5.
Before Charleston could come any closer, however, a pair of one-run innings, followed by a three-run rally in fifth push the Hawks back out by 9-6. Charleston's final run of the game came in the top of the fifth when another bases-loaded walk, this time to Baugh, pushed in Trey Coleman.
"Six runs need to keep you in a ball game," Minner said. "But unfortunately it didn't today for us. But with the wind blowing out we had chances. We had the bases loaded and we're down six. You never know, we have some guys that have been swinging the bat better."
On the game, Kelly outhit the Bluejays 16-6 with a 3 for 3 effort from Gates leading the way. Gates tripled, doubled and singled while scoring four times in the contest. Aaron Casey and Aaron Grainger also had three hits each for the Hawks, including a double by Casey.
Householder and Ray each went 2 for 4 to aid Kelly's cause.
"We'll take them however we can get them," Eftink said. "It was a good day for the guys hitting the ball. We hit the ball well today and pitching wise it was a good game to get a lot of different pitchers in there and get an inning or two in."
Making up one-third of Charleston's offense was D.J. Adams, who went 2 for 3 while drawing a walk and scoring a run.
Charleston 113 010 0 - 6
Kelly 451 130 0 - 14
WP -- Brent Forck. LP -- Bruce Simmons. Multiple hitters: (C) D.J. Adams 2-3; (K) Aaron Grainger 3-4, Jeff Gates 3-3, Aaron Casey 3-3, Gaven Ray 2-4. 2B -- (C) Cole Byford; (K) Gates, Casey. 3B -- (C) Trey Watkins; (K) Gates.