Baseball loses to Ottawa 13-2 at home

Story by Jim Joyner, Sports Editor

The baseball team lost to Ottawa 13-2 on Wednesday, April 6, at Sauder Field in a nine-inning single game. The loss drops Baker to 12-20 on the season.

Junior Tyler Cawley made his sixth start of the season and felt like the team battled better at the plate early in the game as opposed to the later innings.

“I think it was our overall approaches at the plate,” Cawley said. “In the first inning we worked the counts to our favor and hit the pitches that were hitters’ counts. Later in the game the [pitcher] was still not throwing that great and the zone was pretty tight, but we chased early, which led us into counts that weren’t favorable to us.”

The Wildcats were looking to avenge a loss in the season opener to Ottawa. In that game, Baker led 11-3 going into the bottom of the seventh and allowed nine runs over the next two innings to lose 13-11.

Sophomore Jack Mayes was given the nod for the midweek start on the mound. Mayes came into Wednesday with a 7.43 ERA in his five appearances and three starts this season.

Mayes hit the second batter of the game and then allowed a runner on an infield error. Ottawa catcher Michael Hayworth drove in the game’s first run on a ground-rule double that hopped over the left-field fence. After a sacrifice fly scored the second run, catcher Wes Summers picked off Hayworth at third after nearly allowing a passed ball. Hayworth was caught halfway between home and third and was caught diving back into third. Baker was immediately down 2-0.

Ottawa’s starting pitcher Jackson Markham made his first appearance of the season on Wednesday. Sophomore Kenny Delaquila singled and scored Baker’s first run in the bottom of the first. Delaquila scored on a throwing error from the Ottawa catcher. Baker would score one more run and tied the game 2-2 after one inning.

Ottawa regained the lead in the top of the third after an error on senior Travis Johnson to start off the inning.

In the bottom of the fourth the Wildcats started the inning with a hit batter and a single that took a bad hop over the second basemen. Baker had runners on first and third with no outs. Travis Johnson was caught stealing and junior Lake Johnson struck out. After senior Tevin Thompson reached on a walk, he was caught stealing to end the inning.

The next inning the Braves struck back for two more runs on two Baker errors. The Wildcats escaped a jam with a 6-4-3 double play to end the top of the fifth down 5-2. Mayes’ day was done after five innings, seven hits and three earned runs.

Junior Justin Madsen appeared in relief for Mayes. Madsen walked three batters and allowed a run on a passed ball. With the bases loaded, Ottawa’s Michael Hayworth rolled over a ground ball to the left side. Delaquila made a diving effort but the ball tipped off his glove and rolled into shallow left field. Two runners scored and Ottawa took an 8-2 lead.

“I felt so-so,” Madsen said. “I felt confident but I didn’t necessarily have my best stuff, which happens.”

Madsen finished with two-thirds of an inning pitched, five runs and three earned. Madsen felt like the walks were the biggest thing that allowed him to not be effective. He knows what he needs to do in his next appearance to get batters out.

“Attacking early in the count and having hitters hit on my terms instead of the other way around,” Madsen said. “And keeping people off the base paths with walks.”

Freshman Laken Straub replaced Madsen and allowed both of his inherited runners to score after an error on the infield. Another single later and the Braves took a 10-2 lead after six innings. The Braves added three more runs in the seventh and that was the last of the scoring on the afternoon as Ottawa cruised into a 13-2 win and a season sweep of Baker.

Baker didn’t score after the first inning and committed four errors. The Wildcats also only had two hits after the first inning. Mayes took the loss for Baker (0-3) and Markham picked up his first win of the season.

The Wildcats will take on their rival MidAmerica Nazarene on Friday and Saturday in Olathe. Friday’s doubleheader will begin at 3 p.m., and Saturday’s doubleheader starts at 1 p.m.

The Pioneers are 26-7 overall, and 9-5 in the Heart of American Athletic Conference. They are currently in third place in the conference standings. The Wildcats are in a tie for eighth.

Cawley believes that the Wildcats are not afraid of MNU, despite losing their last nine games against MNU, dating back to the 2013 season.

“We’ve got to score runs early in games and play some defense,” Cawley said. “I think our starters are more than capable of giving us starts that will be good enough to win. We just have to execute behind them and execute at the plate.”