COLUMBUS GROVE — Inconsistent play in the field and at the plate put a damper on the beginning of Columbus Grove’s season as the Bulldogs were swept, 11-7 and 18-2 in a six-inning run rule game doubleheader Saturday.
Columbus Grove head coach Travis Gallmeier pointed primarily to the team’s defensive miscues that enabled Van Buren to produce runs throughout both games. In the two contests, the Bulldogs had double-digit defensive mistakes.
“We had a lot of miscues in the field and they kind of came at the wrong time,” Gallmeier said. “It seems like that if we made the plays we were out of the jam and we didn’t and two more runs would come in and it just kind of got away from us.
“We kept fighting and we had a couple of injuries happen and that was unfortunate for us. We will get back at it on Monday.”
The Knights, known for their hitting, totaled 12 hits in the first game and added 11 more in the second contest.
In the 13 total innings played, Van Buren scored in all but one and that came in the top of the seventh of the first game. In the nightcap, the Knights scored two or more runs in all six frames.
Offensively, the Bulldogs lashed out 13 hits and scored 11 runs but Columbus Grove also left several runners on base and never got the big inning that allowed them to overtake the Knights.
The closest the Bulldogs ever had of taking a lead was in the bottom of the third when they were down 6-1 but rallied for three runs to slice the lead to 6-4. However, the Knights answered with three more runs in the top of the fourth to go back up five.
The Bulldogs manufactured three runs in the bottom of the six to narrow the gap back to four, 11-7, but failed to gain any more ground.
“In that first game we left some runners on base and we were one hit away from getting in it every single time, but again defensively you have to have both parts of it,” Gallmeier said. “We’d battle back in then we would have a miscue. We have a lot of young girls out there playing in some spots they are not used to playing. We are getting our feet wet today and that was kind of the plan but I still would have liked to pick one up.”
In the first game, Grove’s Kam Utendorf, Shay Schroeder, Cheyenne Mershman, Gwen Langhals, Grace Sellhorst and Lauren Fuerst all had multiple hits.
The hitting was not as prevalent for the Bulldogs in the second contest as Van Buren pitcher Madison Martin scattered seven hits over six innings of work. The Knight righty struck out 10 and fanned the final six out of seven batters she faced.
Langhals had two hits in game two.
As for the Bulldogs pitching, Gallmeier said he was alright with the outing against a good-hitting Knight squad.
Mershman, who started the first game and went five innings, also pitched an inning and one-third in the second contest and struck out four and walked four while yielding 11 runs.
Bulldog hurler Cam Untendorf pitched the final two frames of game one and then started game two and went three innings before being taken out due to injury. Utendorf gave up nine hits and eight runs in the second game and fanned three and walked two. Sophomore Jaelyn Mangas saw some pitching due to Utendorf’s injury of and she struggled with control in her one and one-third of work.
“With Cam getting hurt that kind of threw us for a loop,” Gallmeier said. “I thought pitching was OK. I mean it comes back to fielding. We had a lot of drops, a lot of bobbles and some drops at first base and some drops in the outfield. Just some tough first games but it is one of many and we have a long season where we can get it fixed and be successful.”