With an empty dugout behind him, Penns Valley baseball head coach Jon Bowersox stood along the first baseline and stared out at the cleared diamond.
He looked perplexed.
It happened again.
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One day removed from a mistake-laden loss to Central, the Rams were clumsy with the ball on Tuesday, making four critical errors in a 13-1 drubbing to Bellefonte.
“You can’t do that,” Bowersox said. “The game went from 4-1 to 10-1 in a matter of one inning.”
Bellefonte ace Dom Masullo was the winning pitcher, striking out 11 and scattering six hits in a complete-game effort.
Masullo didn’t need to go the normal seven innings, though, thanks to the mercy rule being invoked after six frames.
At the plate, the Red Raiders spread the wealth. Tanner Helms had three singles, while Dylan Deitrich, Logan Mathieu, Storm Smith, Nick Jabco, Gehrig Schuster and Garrett Reiter all had two base hits.
In all, Bellefonte had 15 knocks.
They weren’t all smoked, either. Some were clean drives, while others had eyes, sliding by infielders or dropping just in front of outfielders.
But after catching few breaks earlier in the year, Red Raiders head coach Dan Fravel would take it.
“Anybody who watched us the first five or six games, we were hitting a lot of balls on the nose right at people and we couldn’t get a bloop to fall,” he said. “Baseball is a funny game, and it came full-circle.
“They got some hits to fall that they deserved early in the season.”
Bellefonte put up four runs in the first two innings, but Penns Valley responded in the bottom of the first with an Allen Cain run on Hunter Homan’s infield single.
Plus, Rams starter Luke Sharer shut out Bellefonte in the third and fourth frames.
Penns Valley, looking for its first win in 11 days, was still in it — until the Rams took the field for the fifth inning.
After Sharer gave up back-to-back singles, Homan came on in relief of the Penns Valley starter. But the junior hit the first batter he faced and walked in a run on the next hitter.
To make matters worse, Mathieu chopped a grounder to Penns Valley first baseman Chase Collison on the next at-bat. Collison fielded it in the grass and turned to flip to Homan covering the bag. Homan never got his head turned around, and the ball glided past him to the fence allowing two runs to score.
After a subsequent single, sacrifice fly and passed ball plated three more, Penns Valley was in a nine-run hole.
Add in three runs on three errors in the sixth inning, and the Rams were down by 12.
The mistakes snowballed.
“These are just routine plays we’re not making,” Bowersox said. “We just fell apart again.”
Meanwhile, Bellefonte played “squeaky clean” in Fravel’s eyes. The Red Raiders didn’t commit a single error, aiding them to their fourth win in the last five games.
“We’re at the point where we need to win,” Fravel said of his Red Raiders (5-8), who play Clearfield on Friday. “They’re taking on that challenge, and we’re looking to go on a roll.”
For Penns Valley, it’ll look to snap a four-game losing streak against Philipsburg-Osceola on Friday.
The Rams will need to tighten up their defense, and Bowersox knows it.
Due to a packed schedule, Penns Valley will have its first practice in over a week on Wednesday.
Bowersox promised a lot of grounders.
“We’ll be working defense for a good hour,” the coach noted. “We’re going to get back to the basics.”