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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Charleston's offense continues to struggle as Paducah takes two

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Charleston first baseman Zac Chasteen (right) and Paducah runner Jarrett Rice (left) races to the bag on Tuesday as pitcher Paul Fox (center) looks on at Hillhouse Park in Charleston. Rice was called safe on the play. Brent Shipman, Staff
CHARLESTON -- Just one day removed from dropping a pair of games to Chaffee, the Charleston Fighting Squirrels offensive struggles continued on Tuesday when Paducah, Ken., Senior Legion Post 31 came to town for a doubleheader.

Combining for only four hits while surrendering 11 in the night's first contest, the Squirrels fell 6-1 as Post 31 got a complete game effort from starter Clay Chandler.

"When you're not hitting there's so many things that you're doing wrong," Charleston head coach Michael Minner said. "It's one of those things where nothing is going good for us right now. So we have to make some breaks for ourselves and bust out of this thing."

With both teams starters cruising through the first three innings it wasn't until the top of the fourth frame that Paducah took what turned out to be an insurmountable lead. After a walk and a base hit left runners on second and third, Evan Owen hit a hard grounder to short that appeared to be the inning's third out.

Hustling down the line, however, Owen was safe first at first when the throw to first was mishandled, allowing a pair of runs to score and Post 31 to grab a 2-0 lead.

"It's a play that probably nine out of ten times we make," Minner said. "We just didn't make it there for whatever reason."

After a scoreless fifth, Paducah added to its lead in the sixth when Post 31 took advantage of a leadoff walk to eventually load the bases. Coming to the plate with two outs, pinch hitter Caleb Crim hit a line drive to left field to score a run before the Squirrels gunned down a second runner at the plate to end the threat.

Despite going scoreless through the first six frame Charleston was able to keep the game within reach thanks to solid pitching and a few defensive breaks. That all changed in seventh, however, when Paducah tacked on another three runs to effectively seal the game.

After Jarrett Rice and Jack Coleman started off the inning with consecutive singles before Luke Merideth put Post 31 ahead 4-0 with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Hits by Colby Griggs and Chandler, with runners in scoring position, drove home Paducah's final two runs of the contest.

"They woke up," Post 31 coach Dennis Quigley said of his team during the rally. "We pinch-hit a couple kids and they responded well. All of our kids know to be ready with a bat, especially late in a game. Because we're going to get in and try to score a run anytime we get a chance."

After collecting only two hits through the first six frames, the Squirrels found some life in the bottom of the seventh as they attempted to rally back from a six-run hole. Brad Potts and Ethan Browning started off the inning with back-to-back hits and a passed ball put runners on second and third with no outs.

Unfortunately for Charleston, before a full-fledge rally could get underway, Chandler struck out two of the next three batters with the Squirrels only run coming in on a grounder supplied by Tim Hillis.

"This winds up a 6-1 ball game, but it was a dog fight," Minner said. "It's 0-0 in the fourth and 3-0 going into the seventh. We botch a play there where (if not for that) it would have still been nothing-nothing probably going into the sixth inning."

In going all seven inning Chandler picks up the win. He allowed one run on four hits and no walks while striking out 10.

Taking the loss is Charleston despite a solid performance was Paul Fox. Fox went 5 innings and gave up three runs, one earned, on three hits and three walks while striking out seven.

At the plate Fox, Potts, Browing and Wilson had a hit each for the Squirrels while Chandler and Jarrett each had a game-high two hits for Post 31.

In the night's second contest, Paducah once again emerged with a win as they defeated the Squirrels 12-2.

Though he'd obviously like his team to break out of its slump sooner than later, Minner is realistic that the most important part of the season is still to come.

"We're playing a lot of baseball and I'm not giving up by any means," Minner said. "We've had teams that hit the snot out of it all season long and then in the postseason we go silent.

"So at least right now we're fighting through these struggles and if we do bust out of them, we're accustomed to being in tight ball games. That's the one positive is that we're going to be prepared come postseason."

Paducah 000 201 3 - 6 11 2

Charleston 000 000 1 - 1 4 1

WP -- Clay Chandler. LP -- Paul Fox. Multiple hitters: (P) Jarrett Rice 2-3, Clay Chandler 2-4. 2B -- (P) Colby Griggs; (C) Jacob Wilson.