It just wasn’t Cardington’s evening when they hosted Liberty Union in a Division III sectional final baseball game on Thursday.
The Pirates were held to two singles by Lion pitcher Colton Hutchison in the contest. While Cardington pitcher Dillon Minturn was just as good for most of the game, first inning struggles put his team in a 4-0 hole very quickly.
The Pirate senior opened the game by walking Cayden Carroll and hitting Tanner Farmer to put two runners on with no one out. He would rally to get the next two batters out, but the third out would be elusive. Hutchison helped his own cause with a two-run triple and Austin McClure followed with a home run to drive in two more runs.
“Unfortunately, we gave a really good team one inning,” said Pirate coach Ryan Goetzman. “That’s all they needed. You have to tip your hat to their pitcher. He did a fantastic job tonight and kept us off balance. Dillon had five phenomenal innings — I’d say six really good innings — and one beat us.”
Liberty Union would add one more run in the second inning on another two-out hit when Tanner Farmer drove in Bobby Savage with a single. Minturn would only give up one more baserunner — due to an error — the rest of the way. Unfortunately for the Pirates, they would struggle to generate offense.
In their half of the second inning, Wyatt Wade led off with a single, but Cardington would not be able to advance beyond first base.
The Pirates would break through in the fourth inning. Minturn opened the frame by striking out, but took advantage of the pitch getting past the catcher to get to first base. Even better for the team, an attempt to throw him out went wild, allowing him to advance to second. A sacrifice bunt by Wyatt Denney moved him to third and A.J. Hall drove him in with a single.
Hutchison would respond by inducing a pair of groundouts to get out of the inning with no further damage done, though. Goetzman noted that he felt Liberty Union would provide a tough test for his squad.
“They’re prepared,” he said. “Their coach does a great job and they play in a great conference. We knew we’d be in a dogfight tonight.”
After that fourth-inning run, Cardington would not be able to generate any more offense, as Hutchison pitched three consecutive one-two-three innings to finish the game.
The Pirates finished their season with an 11-11 record. While Goetzman noted that he’ll graduate a good senior class, he added that he has high hopes for his young nucleus of players.
“I tell the boys every year, goals and expectations do not change,” he said. “We lost a phenomenal group of seniors. Brad (West) made a ginormous step up behind the plate this year. He got so much better behind the plate. Dillon was Mr. Consistent all year long and gave us a chance every time he was on the mound. (Kaiden) Beach and Drew Etgen were both phenomenal for us this year, as well. We’re just going to keep on pushing and get better and, again, goals and expectations don’t change and the boys know that.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS