Pinecrest Academy coach Rick Swygman said his team’s theme is “making it miserable for the other guys.” But on Thursday, No. 3-ranked Holy Innocents was the one making life difficult for the Paladins.
By the time Pinecrest’s bats showed signs of life in the middle innings, the game was too far out of reach, as the Golden Bears matched their biggest run total of the season in a 14-4 win in six innings at Father’s Field.
It was the fourth consecutive loss for the Paladins (6-11, 2-8 Region 5N-A), who have only 10 players on their roster and have gone 1-8 since posting four consecutive wins in early March.
Although the Paladins have struggled this season, they have produced two seniors who will be playing baseball at the college level next year.
Brad Nassaur (Young Harris) and Erik Hegeman (Army) have been leaders on and off the field for Pinecrest — and have broken hitting and pitching records over their four years with the varsity program.
“They make everything happen by sheer will,” Swygman said.
“We wouldn’t have the program that we do without those two guys.”
The offense wasted no time for Holy Innocents (18-3, 10-1), sending seven batters to the plate in the first inning.
Skye Bolt (1-for-3, R) drew a two-out walk in the top of the first, before cleanup hitter Jake Maziar (3-for-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI) blasted the first pitch he saw from Pinecrest starting pitcher Brad Nassaur (2 1/3 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 2 K) over the right field fence to put the Golden Bears on top 2-0.
Holy Innocents put three more runs across the plate in the second inning and two in the third, increasing the lead to 7-0.
The bats finally began to come alive for Pinecrest (6-11, 2-8) in the fourth inning.
The Paladins got three straight singles by Jimmy Strom, Erik Hegeman and Josh Oshinski to load the bases. Thomas Ross (1-for-3, 2 RBI) drilled a single off reliever Charles Link’s right shin to score Strom and Hegeman and cut the lead to 7-2.
Howard Joe (1-for-5, HR) launched a home run to left field with two outs for the Golden Bears in a four-run fifth inning, stretching the lead to 11-2.
Pinecrest responded again in the bottom of the inning. Nassaur and Strom each delivered RBI doubles, closing the gap to 11-4.
But Maziar boosted the Golden Bears’ lead to 14-4 with a three-run home run to deep right field in the top of the sixth, and the mercy rule ended the game when Pinecrest failed to score in the bottom of the inning.
The Paladins look to bounce back against Wesleyan at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.