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TMP baseball splits with Colby

5/15/2014

By NICK MCQUEEN

nmcqueen@dailynews.net

The Thomas More Prep-Marian High School baseball team had already wrapped up the top seed for next week’s Class 3A regional when it took the field Thursday for senior day at TMP Field.

So the Monarchs were hoping to treat their doubleheader against .500 Colby as a tune-up before taking the field for the regional semifinals next Tuesday.

Instead, what head coach Brian Schumacher saw in a doubleheader split with the Eagles, is the Monarchs have some things they need to shore up before next week if they are hoping to return to the Class 3A state tourney.

“We got a win, but we’ve got to get some things figured out before Tuesday,” said Schumacher, whose club lost the opener 8-6, then won 6-5 in the nightcap. “To be able to come out of (the regional), we’ll have to play a lot better ball than what we did today.”

The Monarchs committed four errors through the first three innings of the opener Thursday, leading to a 6-4 lead early for the Eagles. TMP (15-5) had three errors that led to the 2-0 lead.

If that weren’t enough, Schumacher said his club struggled offensively against Game 1 starter Luke Cox, and Game 2 starter Casey Quagliano.

“If anything, this should have been a preparation for next week — come in focused mentally,” Schumacher said. “It’s not like we’re facing better pitching. That’s the frustrating part of it.”

After falling down 6-4, the Monarchs did rally to tie the game at six heading into the seventh inning. Cameron Brin drove in a run in the fourth, then Justin Pfeifer scored on an error in the sixth to tie things up. But Brin gave up four straight singles to the Eagles in the seventh, before retiring three straight to end the inning, but the damage had already been done with two Colby runs. Cox (5-2) allowed two singles in the final inning, but got Braiden Werth to ground into a double play to erase a leadoff single for the Monarchs.

TMP had six hits in the opener, and left six runners stranded. Ryan Schippers finished 2 for 4. Brin (3-3) took the loss in the complete game. He allowed eight runs on 11 hits with three strikeouts and three walks.

In the nightcap, the Monarchs’ offense wasn’t much better, Schumacher said. The Monarchs again fell into a 2-0 hole, then had to battle back. The Monarchs’ bright spot for the doubleheader, Liam Stults, led off the third with a triple, then scored on a balk against Quagliano (4-3). It ws the first of three hits for Stults in the nine hole.

“Liam did a nice job, and fortunately hit the ball well for us in that second game,” Schumacher said. “We did have some nice hits.”

Taylor Wasinger hit a two-run triple in the fifth inning that gave the Monarchs their first lead, then Stults added an RBI single for TMP’s final run. All of the runs came in the bottom of the order for TMP. The first four batters were a collective 0 for 11 with four walks.

“If we were facing someone that was really strong or a tough pitcher, I could see it,” Schumacher said of the struggles. “We put up six runs against decent, at best, pitching.

“One through nine has the capability to do really well,” the coach added. “It’s just a matter of being prepared when the time comes.”

Ricky Hockett and Werth each recorded two hits. Werth got the win on the mound. He gave up five runs on 12 hits with three strikeouts and two walks. The Monarchs did have seven hits, but left 10 runners stranded. TMP will await the winner between Monday’s game between Holcomb (9-9) and Haven (3-13). The Monarchs will play either team at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Colby is the No. 2 seed for the Class 4A Division II regional in Scott City, and will play Goodland (4-12) on Monday at 4:30 p.m.