Runs came at a premium during a classic pitchers duel in the Aledo Bearcats’ District 5-5A opener on Tuesday, March 21, as the visiting Brewer Bears left town toting a 3-1 win.
Trey Ramirez tossed a complete game for the Bears in the win. Robert Burk was shackled with the loss for Aledo despite a solid outing on the bump where he tossed five complete innings while surrendering three runs on six hits.
Aledo (11-6 overall, 0-1 in District 5-5A) returned to action following a 10-day hiatus for spring break. The Bearcats entered district play coming off back-to-back wins prior to the break.
Both hurlers settled down nicely once they dialed in their command after getting off to rough starts in the first inning. Burk walked the leadoff hitter for Brewer on four straight pitches to get the game underway. A wild pitch to the second batter allowed the runner to advance to second. A sacrifice bunt by the two-hole hitter put the first run of the game just 90 feet away from the plate. A ground ball to Aledo second baseman Boyd Thompson on the right side of the infield scored the runner from third as the Bears hopped on the board early, 1-0.
With runners on first and second, Trace Mazon stepped into the box for Aledo. The Bearcats continued to be aggressive on the base paths as Aledo head coach Chad Barry employed the double steal during the first offering to Mazon. A good jump by Thompson at second, coupled with the pitch missing the mark, allowed both runners to advance uncontested as the Brewer catcher was unable to get a throw off to either bag.
Mazon walked a few pitches later to load the bases full of Bearcats with no outs in the inning.
Ramirez managed to work his way out of the bases-loaded jam following a brief conference on the mound with the Bears skipper. The Bearcats left the bases full of runners with no damage done to end the frame.
On top of the three runners left on base to end the first, Aledo would strand a total of seven baserunners across as many innings.
“We left too many runners on base,” Barry said. “It was the tell tale of the night, really. We load the bases in the bottom of the first and then don’t even make them have to make a play to get out of it. I feel like that set a tone for the night. We were fighting an uphill battle the whole night.”
While the Bearcats struggled to get their offense going at the dish early on, their defense was firing on all cylinders. The double play is often referred to as a pitcher’s best friend, and Aledo turned a pair of 6-4-3 double plays to close out the top of the second and third innings.
In the top of the second with a runner on and one out, Burk was able to get the ground ball he needed to set his defense up to complete the double play. Mazon and Thompson did not disappoint as Mazon fielded the ball cleanly before dishing it to Thompson to complete the back end of the play. Thompson kicked the bag at second as he avoided the sliding baserunner before firing a strike to Bosten Dwinell patiently awaiting the throw at first.
In the third inning the Bearcats found themselves in a similar situation. Burk induced the ground ball. Mazon made the routine play before passing it off for Thompson to complete the back half of the play. However, as Thompson kicked the bag looking to complete the turn the Brewer baserunner did not sufficiently attempt to avoid the play after being ruled out at second. The umpire called the runner at first out on the play due to interference to make it another quick inning in the field for Aledo.
Aledo continued to trail 1-0 until the bottom of the fourth inning. Jones started off the home half reaching base on a throwing error by Brewer’s shortstop that allowed the Bearcat batter to make it all the way to second on the play. Bryce McCain attempted to give himself up with a sacrifice bunt, but he was able to beat out the throw to first for a base hit. Ramirez’s throw to first was off target, as well as late giving Jones an opportunity to score from third while McCain moved into scoring position at second.
The rally ended there as Aledo tied the game up at one run apiece heading into the fifth inning.
Brewer used a walk, a single, and an extra base hit to manufacture a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning that ended up being the difference in the game.
Jake Bumgardner came on in relief for the Bearcats in the sixth, tossing a pair of scoreless innings in the no-decision appearance.
“I felt like our pitching and defense were good enough to win the game,” Barry said. “At the plate we did not execute. We did not get clutch hits when we needed to. We took some very, in my opinion, selfish swings with two strikes that we’ve got to make adjustments on to shorten up our swings.”
Next up on the schedule for the Bearcats is a trip to Brewer on Friday where they will try to claim some redemption on the road. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m.
“We’re going to go back to work,” Barry said in anticipation of Friday’s game at Brewer. “We’re going to work on our approach - two-strike approach, situational approach, things like that. We’ve got to figure out who we are. We’ve got to have better plate discipline. We can’t be hitting the ball and popping it up with runners in scoring position. At least we need to hit the ball on the ground to make them field it, throw it, catch it instead of just get under a pop fly and catch it.”
Aledo vs. Brewer – Tues, March 21
Brewer 100 002 0 - 3 6 2
Aledo 000 100 0 - 1 4 1
Aledo hitting: Garrett Rester 2-3, SB; Bryce McCain 1-3; Bosten Dwinell 1-4, SB; Trace Mazon SB; Boyd Thompson SB; Andrew Cambre HP.
Aledo pitching: Robert Burk 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 K, 3 BB; Jake Bumgardner 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 K, BB.
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