Baseball: Bats go cold as the Monarchs fall to Redcats at D-IV Valley Championships
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
VISALIA – Exeter has had success at Recreation Park, winning multiple games over the last four years, including the 2014 Division VI Valley Championship 8-4 over Immanuel. Last Saturday’s result was not added to the list. The second seeded team faced the fourth seeded Fowler Redcats (20-10, 9-1) with the Division IV championship on the line.
The recent hitting hot streak the Monarchs (21-11, 8-7) had been on went cold. That resulted in a 4-0 loss. It is only the second time Exeter has been shut out at the home of the Rawhide in the last four years.
“They got hits and we did not. That’s pretty much the story right there,” Exeter head coach Kevin Kirkman said.
Fowler’s bats got the job done. They brought one run home in the third inning which turned out to be the decider. Then the outfield began to play tricks on the Monarchs defensively.
Each time the ball dropped in front of an Exeter outfielder they were in position to make a play. Instead off the first hop the ball seemed to take a completely different angle than they anticipated and role by the defender. It allowed the Fowler runners to turn singles into triples. The Redcats took advantage of the Monarchs misfortune and scored three runs to make it the final score.
“It’s hard to say what happened,” Kirkman said. “They went after a ball and it took a different angle.”
Exeter was not without their offensive opportunities. In the third inning they had a chance to answer Fowler’s early run by advancing a player to third. The scoring chance failed for the Monarchs. Three innings later their best chance came when they loaded the bases in the sixth inning. Once again, the runners were stranded.
Coach Kirkman knew Fowler’s pitching was going to be difficult, but Exeter’s bats had gone cold in the worst of times. Only Justin Turner had a hit.
The early deficit was not a negative mark on the Exeter pitching staff either. Dillon Howell started the game and lasted four and three-fourth innings. He gave up the only earned run in the loss. Brian Roach came in relief and pitched the rest of the innings.
“They went out there and did a great job on the mound,” Kirkman said.
In such a big game Kirkman’s decision to start Howell over Jaykob Acosta might have been questioned. However, after Acosta threw 107 pitches in Exeter’s 5-3 win over the Bakersfield Christian Eagles in the semifinals four days earlier he was close to being out of pitches. Despite the number Kirkman still had a plan to get him into the game.
“I would have used him if we had a lead,” Kirkman said. “Either way he was going four innings and that was it.”
The semifinal win over the Eagles meant Exeter not only advanced to the championship but won the season series as well 2-1. The last time the two teams meet in Lions stadium the Eagles won 11-0 while their pitcher Kaidin Conrad pitched a no hitter.
This time the tables were turned on the two teams. The Monarchs bats were still hot as they took the lead 4-2 in the top of the third inning. Eventually Exeter won 5-3.