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Wildcats reunite with former coach in close loss at Archer

Welcome back, Cavey

POSTED: June 21, 2014 12:00 p.m.
Adam Wynn/Barrow County News

An Apalachee batter swings late in Wednesday's game against Archer.

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Wednesday night’s reunion between the Wildcats and former coach Mike Cavey, now an assistant at Archer, found Apalachee on the losing end of a squeaker as the Tigers used a pair of runs, one unearned, to top the Wildcats 2-1 in the team’s summer league finale.

“That seems to be the story of our summer. We seem to make a mistake when we don’t need to,” interim Apalachee baseball head coach Ronnie Miller said after the loss.

Kody Glausier pitched a complete game for the Cats and tossed four strikeouts with just three hits and one walk, but lost the game by a single run. 

“Kody pitched a heck of a game,” Miller added. “We just couldn’t hit.

“He was outstanding. He was in total command of his fastball, his curveball. Everything was crisp. He did a great job,” Miller said of the now senior pitcher. “He’s one of the guys we’re going to depend on next year.”

Archer’s first man up, EJ Ranel started the game on a strong note for his team in the bottom half of the first with a bloop single towards second base that took an additional strange hop to prevent the infield from making the play. From there, he would steal second and then advance to third on a wild pitch, all with the same batter up.

After that Glausier got that man on a 2-2 swinging strikeout, Rhian Mann received credit for an RBI with Ranel coming home on a wild pitch. Glausier would play a little damage control and get the next two batters on a fielder’s choice play at first and a 1-2 swinging strikeout, but Archer had taken the lead and would not trail for the remainder of the game.

Things appeared to turn around for the Wildcats in the top of the second, though, as Austin Leazer led off with a single to left-centerfield and Glausier walked. With Matt Kubecka as Austin Leazer’s courtesy runner, Apalachee had two on and no outs with a great chance to tie the game or better early. 

A wild pitch to Hunter Linhart allowed the pair of runners to advance once to put Kubecka on third, and another would bring the courtesy runner in for Apalachee’s first and only run of the day.

Linhart would eventually be tagged out on a fielder’s choice, but that still left the Wildcats with a man in scoring position and just one out. Things behind the plate went sour, though, as both of Apalachee’s next two batters went down on strikes and neither was able to put the ball in play for Glausier to come in and give them the lead. 

Apalachee batters struck out six times in the first three innings, partially due to their frustration at a perceived high strike zone. After the umpire called a single high strike early in the second, the Cats felt the sudden need to swing at every high pitch that came their way, citing their displeasure with the official as reason enough to swing.

The game sat at a 1-1 tie for the next four innings, despite multiple attacks by Apalachee batters.

The Wildcats would get Hayden Hubler and Trace Plant on in the third, but with two outs already weighing down their potential to score, and base running twice resulted in unusual double plays in favor of the Tigers.

Glausier led off the fourth with a single to right field just out of former Wildcat Ryan Cavey’s reach at second base, but a failed hit-and-run left him high and dry as Linhart struck out and the throw to second was well in time to make the play.

Jake Leazer would then lead off the fifth inning with a single to centerfield and stole second, but he was thrown out at third after tagging up on Aaron Carley’s fly ball to center, once again negating a lead off hit. 

Austin Leazer would then take a full-count walk to start the sixth, but he fell victim to an inning-ending double play ball executed by Cavey. 

On the other side of the ball, Apalachee’s defense managed to stifle Archer’s offense for much of the game behind Glausier’s shut-down pitching. He faced the minimum in both the second and third, forcing four fly balls and two routine grounders, with Plant saving a hit at short stop on his line drive catch in the second.

Archer tried to extend their lead with a two-out hit in the fourth when one Tiger took his base after taking a pitch to the ribs and worked his way around by stealing second. As soon as the next batter’s ball landed in center, he was off at second and looked poised to score, but the throw nailed home and saved a run and the inning.

The Tigers would plate another runner in the fifth with two outs already aboard, but a simple fly ball to left ended that inning and sent the game to the sixth still tied 1-1.

The bottom of the sixth would finally see the tie torn asunder as the leadoff man for Archer reached first on an error and advanced to second on a base hit by the next man up. Mann’s hit towards third base proved perfectly placed enough for Apalachee to make the easy out on the lead runner and put a second out on the record, but Archer had one or two more tricks to pull.

Ranel, who had both of Archer’s runs Wednesday evening, raced for third on a wild pitch and was brought home by a Tiger shot to right field to give Archer the lead with just one half inning to go. The Tigers would keep moving runners around behind Glausier trying to force a mistake, but he would catch the third out looking on a 2-2 pitch to get himself out of a dangerous situation. 

Apalachee came up to bat in the top of the seventh with just one more shot at tying the game or retaking the lead, but things got grim quickly as the first two batters up went down on strikes and put the Wildcats in some dire straits.

Jake Leazer had the unenviable position of taking the first two-out at bat, and he forced the ball right under an infielder’s glove for an error-induced base runner. Jake Leazer then stole second with Carley up to bat so Apalachee would have one in scoring position, and that was nearly enough.

Carley smashed a hard hit ball towards right field that looked to be too shallow for Archer to snag, but a quick fielder ended the game and left Apalachee once more limping off the field with a lost opportunity. 

“It was one of those tough-luck losses that rips your heart out as a coach and a player, but that’s baseball,” Miller pointed out. “You can hit a shot right there like Aaron Carley did, and we thought that was in the gap to tie the ball game up, but he just hit it right to him.”

Adding insult to injury, Hubler was 3-for-3 on the night and was next up to bat. 

“Hayden Hubler had three hits tonight, but we couldn’t get him back up. He was on-deck,” Miller opined. “I’m proud of them. They had a great summer, we just had a ton of one-run losses. We just tend to make that one mistake that costs us a run, a game, an at-bat, an inning or something.”

In the end, it was all a matter of errors and timely hitting that allowed Archer to send the Wildcats packing just one run shy of victory, or at least a share of the victory.

In Coach Miller’s opinion, though, those errors might as well happen now if they have to happen at all.

“It’s nice to make the mistakes in summer ball because it is summer ball. Nothing really rides on summer ball. This is just instructional time,” Miller explained. “It’s nice to make those mistakes and I hope we learn from those mistakes as we move forward into next year.”

The Wildcats finished summer ball 4-6-1, just short of Miller’s goal of ending up with a winning record. Despite Wednesday’s game being the sixth loss of the summer, for some it possibly felt like the hardest.

“It wasn’t our team against Cavey, it wasn’t Coach Miller against Coach Cavey, it was Apalachee against Archer,” Miller said, with a corollary. “It was kinda weird after having been on the same side for seven years.

“Of course both teams want to win. If we told you we didn’t want to win, that’d be a silly statement…but it really wasn’t that big of a deal,” Miller admitted. “I think the kids wanted to win more than the adults did, in all honesty. Our kids would have liked to have come out on top just because it was against their former coach. I know people may make it out bigger, but I try to remind them that it isn’t Vader over there or the evil empire and we’re trying to take them on. We were just trying to beat the team on the field.”

As far as that team is concerned, Miller is optimistic that they will be ready for a special year when their next coach steps up in the near future.

“It’s a good group of kids we’ve got coming back, and I hope when the new coach gets in here that we’ll get on track and those mistakes will be fewer apart,” Miller said. “Good teams don’t make a lot of errors, but when they do, they find a way to get out of it.”

Apalachee is expected to announce their new baseball coach this coming week, so the team will know that new man soon enough. 



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