WEST POINT — The mission for Oak Hill Academy’s baseball team going into Game 2 of its second-round MAIS Class 4A playoff series with Marshall Academy is simple: Forget about Game 1.
There was nothing positive to take from Tuesday’s opening game of the best-of-three series, a 15-0 romp for the visitors that started badly for the Raiders and never got better. But coach Buddy Dill is confident his experienced players will be able to put the debacle behind them when they travel to Holly Springs for Friday’s Game 2.
“I think they’ve shown all year that they can take a beating and be able to come back,” Dill said. “We’ve had a few games where we’ve played very poorly in games and answered right back.”
The Raiders will need to do that again to keep their season alive.
Things went awry right from the start, as the Patriots led 1-0 two batters into the game. By the end of the first inning, four errors helped four Marshall runs to score.
A double, a bunt single, a stolen base and two sacrifice flies made it 6-0 after two, and two walks to start the third led to three more runs and a 9-0 bulge.
By that time, Oak Hill starter Gunter Reed was out of the game. He went 2 2/3 innings, and all nine runs to that point were charged to him, although four were unearned.
It was a far cry from Reed’s sterling performance against the Patriots during the regular season, when he allowed four hits and two earned runs while striking out eight in a complete game as Oak Hill won 4-3 on March 29.
Buddy Dill said the Raiders will remember that win as they travel to Holly Springs for Friday’s game, which will become a doubleheader if Oak Hill wins.
“I imagine we’ll see the guy we beat in Game 1 during the regular season, so we’ve got to use that for some confidence,” the coach said, referring to Jackson Graves, who did not get out of the third inning that day, allowing four runs on four hits while walking three.
Meanwhile, Marshall starting pitcher Matt Bourdon was outstanding, using 42 pitches to get through four innings, striking out six without walking a batter. The only Oak Hill batters to reach base against him were Garrett Edwards, who hit a two-out single in the second; Brian Buchanan, who was hit by a pitch in the third; and Cameron Dill, who singled to lead off the fourth.
None of them reached second base.
“He filled the zone up, he mixed pitches, he threw a lot of strikes,” Buddy Dill said of Bourdon. “He stayed down in the zone and really kind of kept us guessing. He didn’t necessarily overpower us.”
Three walks and another error pushed across three runs in the fourth, an inning that ended with the defensive highlight of the game for Oak Hill. Marshall’s Rusty Bolden sent a bases-loaded fly ball to right field, which was caught by Tanner Flynt.
Flynt, who had entered the game two batters earlier during a pitching change, threw to third to nail Gage Gardner trying to advance.
The last three runs for the Patriots were scored in the fifth, including two on Marshall’s only extra-base hit of the game, a two-run double by Jordan Bonds.
The Raiders (13-12) will send John Ross Craven to the mound for Game 2 on Friday.
“He’s been our Game 2 guy all year,” Buddy Dill said. “We just need him to fill the zone up and just really compete for us.”
As bad as Tuesday night was, Oak Hill’s coach said the recipe for improvement is simple.
“We just need to execute a little better, whether it be pitches, defense, approaches,” Buddy Dill said. “We’ve just got to get better in all three phases of the game.”