B-E baseball: Room for improvementA young Chargers baseball team hopes to learn from a tough first two games of the season.
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
Brian Perleberg knew his Brandon-Evansville baseball team might take some lumps early in the season with a young roster, but 31 runs through the first two games probably isn’t what he had in mind.
The Chargers were left with room for improvement in all facets of the game after a 12-3 loss to Ottertail Central dropped them to 0-2 on the season last Thursday. Brandon-Evansville lost pretty much its entire pitching staff from last year, and it’s shown early on this spring.
“Right now, we’re trying to find ourselves,” Perleberg said. “We’ve thrown five kids through the first two games, and out of those five, the most experience any of them has is Billie Juul, who threw about a total of seven innings all of last season. We have the inexperience factor working against us right now.”
Junior Craig Campbell took the ball against the Bulldogs and lasted four-plus innings. He allowed at least one run in each of those frames before Juul came on in relief with one on and nobody out in the fifth. Campbell allowed six earned runs on eight hits in his first start of the spring.
Four runs crossed the plate for OTC to make it an 11-3 game before Juul recorded the final out of the fifth. He struck out five in the final three innings but allowed eight hits and four runs. The defense behind both pitchers also showed signs of being nervous as they committed two errors with a number of other plays that could have been ruled errors.
“Right now, we’re beating ourselves,” Perleberg said. “Too many walks and hit batsmen early in the game that sets the table and puts the pressure on our defense. Then defensively, we’re not getting it done. I think we had probably four errors today and about the same earlier this week.”
The Chargers are left with no choice but to learn on the fly. That includes on offense, where all three runs they scored came without putting the ball in play. Two wild pitches by OTC starter Zane Lind were sandwiched around a throw to second base on a steal that allowed a runner to come in from third.
The Chargers did collect nine hits on the night. Mitch Anderson led the way, going 2-for-2 with two stolen bases. Juul also had two hits and a walk. The problem was bunching those hits together with runners in scoring position.
Perleberg feels those big hits will come throughout the season. He is more concerned with making sure they do the little things to make sure they don’t hurt themselves.
Brandon-Evansville didn’t do those little things well against the Bulldogs. The Chargers were down 11-3 in the bottom of the sixth with two runners on when they ran themselves out of an inning. A passed ball got by the catcher as the runner at second hesitated before breaking toward third. He was thrown out to end the inning and any small chance of a Chargers’ comeback.
“Those are the ones that keep me up at night,” Perleberg said. “Just when you think we’ve covered everything soundly enough, we run ourselves out of a potential bigger inning. You just can’t do that. If you’re not going to hit the ball all over the park, then you have to take care of your base runners when you get them out there.”
The important thing for this team to do is to learn from those mistakes. Perleberg wants a big junior class to step up and lead the way toward erasing some of the miscues.
Brandon-Evansville has just three seniors on this team in Levi Hintermeister, Jared Goehringer and Dan Schaffer. Schaffer was going to get the ball in the conference opener on Monday, and Perleberg believes he will step into being one of the top three pitchers on this staff by season’s end. How this team progresses around those three seniors will likely determine how much better it gets overall.
“We’re hoping some of those juniors step up and take the lead because that is by far the group that we think has the most potential to be the leaders on this pitching staff,” Perleberg said. “We can’t look away from our sophomores and freshmen. There are a couple young kids there that if they continue to grow, they’ll be getting a look here as the season goes. Hopefully we don’t have to go that route.”
One way or another, the Chargers know they need to play better all around if they want to stay in games. By season’s end, they hope these first two games will prove to be the exception rather than the rule.
“Live and learn,” Perleberg said. “A lot of these kids are playing their first couple varsity games, and you can chalk it up to nerves or inexperience. Whatever it is, we got some work to do. The good news is we have a bunch of kids who show up every day wanting to learn. When they have that mentality, good things will end up happening down the road.”
OTC 212 240 1 – 12 16 3
B-E 100 200 0 – 3 9 2
B-E PITCHING – Campbell – L, 4IP, 8H, 6ER, 3SO; Juul – 3IP, 8H, 4ER, 5SO
B-E HITTING – Mitch Anderson – 2-2, 2 SB; Billie Juul – 2-3, BB; Dan Schaffer – 1B; Blake Satterlie – 1B; Jake Roers – 1B; Clayton Stotesbery – 1B; Jared Goehringer – 1B