Bulldogs’ Mistakes, Lack of Execution Prove Costly in Loss

7 months ago Jason P. Skoda 0

The inconsistent play of the regular season that kept Queen Creek from a region title and higher seed in the 5A state baseball tournament took a two-game furlough once the postseason began.

It allowed the eighth-seeded Bulldogs to knock off No. 9 Kellis and No. 1 Mesquite by identical 11-1 scores to advance to Thursday’s third round of the championship bracket.

Much to the dismay of Queen Creek coach Mikel Moreno, the up-and-down play showed up again in a 4-3 loss to No. 4 Liberty at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

No. 8 Queen Creek took on No. 4 Liberty at Tempe Diablo Stadium Thursday night in the 5A State Championship Playoffs. (Jason P. Skoda)

The Bulldogs are still alive and will face Mesquite on Monday night with the first pitch scheduled for 6:30 at Tempe Diablo.

“We played two great games, but if you back it up we’ve made a lot of little mistakes throughout the year,” Moreno said. “In power point games, you can get past it or go out and win the next game.

“In the postseason, every mistake is magnified, and we had too many in this game.”

The Bulldogs (21-8) had trouble putting the ball in play with runners in scoring position, dropped pop ups and had bad breaks off second base on hits to the outfield that might have made the difference against the Lions (21-8).

Despite the miscues, Queen Creek was able to get the tying run on base in the seventh and final inning, showing once again the Bulldogs always have one thing on their side – resiliency.

“We are always working to get back in a game, no matter the situation,” right fielder Kevon Jackson said. “We never quit on each other and keep playing hard.”

Staying in the game fell on the shoulder of left-handed starter Danny Marshall, who went the distance in the loss. He allowed five hits, walked two and struck out seven.

His defense let him down a couple of times – the left fielder fell to allow a double, and the shortstop dropped a would-be third out pop up in short center field to allow a run to score – but it never phased Marshall.

“The defense picks you up and can let you down sometimes,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. You still have to make good pitches and pick the defense up when they make mistakes. We made some, but we should have been able to overcome them.”

The biggest struggle came against Liberty pitchers Cameron Bracke and Chandler Murphy with men on base.

After getting the first two batters on – including a double by Ryan Dobbs – in the second, the next three Queen Creek batters struck out against Bracke and only scored on a passed ball.

Then in the third inning, Colton Cassinelli and Jacob Berry walked before Gabe Heitz singled with one out, but again the Bulldogs couldn’t put the ball in play against Bracke as the next two struck out.

The fourth looked promising as well when pinch hitter Kyle Alexander doubled to score Jacob Alexander and Jackson followed with an RBI single for a 3-2 lead. Cassinelli got on with an infield single but Jackson was thrown out stealing and Berry grounded out to end the threat against Murphy.

“We had our chances but didn’t get the big hit when we needed it,” Moreno said. “We struck out too much (12 times) especially with runners on. We have to make contact there but didn’t get the job done. It was like we reverted to our old ways. That’s high school baseball. You never know what you are going to get.”