In a huddle in left field, the Philipsburg-Osceola baseball team talked about poise after a disappointing effort.
The Mounties faced an early deficit and didn’t respond against Central. They lacked discipline at the plate and “kicked it around” at times in the field, finishing with as many hits (four) as errors in a 7-0 loss Thursday.
It was cause for some concern for P-O coach Doug Sankey, who called the game a big test.
“Hopefully we just learn from it, and hopefully we play some more big games down the road,” Sankey said.
Central put together quality at-bats against P-O starting pitcher Gage Coudriet and finished with 11 hits. Dragons starting pitcher Brady Nicewonger threw six innings to earn the win, and Alex Hoenstine pitched a scoreless seventh to finish the first shutout against the Mounties this season.
Coudriet allowed seven runs and nine hits in five innings to take the loss.
Central coach A.J. Hoenstine said his team was looking forward to Thursday after losing 11-0 to the Mounties early in the season.
“That doesn’t happen at our home field very often and they were upset by that,” Hoenstine said. “They know they have a tradition to uphold.”
The Dragons (12-5) outplayed the Mounties (11-4) in each facet of the game en route to the victory.
At the plate, Central drilled four line-drive singles to key a three-run second inning.
Hunter Liebal ripped an RBI single to center field to get the Dragons on the board. With two outs and runners on second and third, Alex Hoenstine singled to center field to drive in one run. An error allowed another run to score to push Central’s lead to 3-0.
Sankey said his team didn’t react well to playing from behind.
“We just didn’t have a lot of enthusiasm and when we got down, it kind of got worse,” Sankey said.
The Mounties, meanwhile, never got going offensively.
Nicewonger didn’t overpower P-O as he finished with two strikeouts, both on called third strikes. But he allowed only one hard-hit ball in the game, a line-drive single by Josh Earnest to left field in the fifth inning.
Earnest also singled on a soft liner to center field, Logan Williamson reached on an infield single and Brandon Kephart dropped a bloop single into left field to account for P-O’s other three hits.
Hoenstine said Nicewonger relied heavily on his fastball in his second start.
“His ball has some natural movement to it,” Hoenstine said.
And he could rely on the Dragons to make the plays behind him.
Central turned a double play in the first inning to erase Earnest’s leadoff single. Alex Hoenstine, the Dragons shortstop, fielded a ground ball up the middle and finished another double play in the fourth. He followed that up by fielding a slow roller to his right and making a throw on the run to end the inning, preventing a baserunner on third from scoring the Mounties’ first run.
Nicewonger appreciated the effort, turning and hitting his shortstop’s glove as he ran off the field.
“Our middle infield is as good as any around,” Hoenstine said.
The Mounties weren’t as sharp defensively.
Back-to-back errors in the fifth inning allowed three runs to score to give the Dragons a 7-0 lead.
When they gathered in left field, Sankey and his team were also starting to look forward to playing again Friday at West Branch.
“We just got to put this one behind us and just move on,” Sankey said.