CLOVER HILL - Clover Hill was able to pull out a 5-4 win over New Market on Monday night, but head coach Chris Cofer thought the score should’ve been much higher.
“There’s a lot of guys on base tonight,” Cofer said following the victory. “It should be more like a 10-7, 10-8 game with all the guys that were on base.”
Despite leaving 14 runners stranded during Monday’s game, the Bucks managed to score runs when it mattered to improve to 3-0 on the season.
Clover Hill entered the bottom of the ninth down a run, but quickly got runners on the bases. The first three batters reached to load the bases with no outs. Following a strikeout by John Siciliano, Kevin Kirk came up to bat for the Bucks.
On a 2-2 pitch, Kirk lofted the ball into centerfield, where it bounced off of Nick Goode’s glove, allowing two runs to score and giving Clover Hill the walk-off victory.
Although the Bucks were trailing for most of the game, Cofer never lost faith in his team.
“I felt like if we kept getting enough opportunities then eventually we’d figure it out,” he said. “I told the guys we’ve got to execute a little bit better when there’s men on base.”
The Bucks have had issues with leaving runners on base in all three games this season, but it’s easier to look past that when the bats come alive in key situations.
“Piles of guys left on base tonight, but we competed and we made some plays late in the game,” Cofer said. “We had some really good at bats late in the game so that’s probably the biggest thing.”
New Market struggled with runners on as well, leaving nine men on base in Monday’s game. The Shockers finished the game with 11 hits, two more than the Bucks, but couldn’t find a way to get their guys home.
In a game that seemed to have some tension between the teams, there was a fair share of controversy, too.
With the Bucks trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Ross French fouled out to Shockers third baseman Josh Tayman. After Tayman made the catch near the New Market dugout, the umpires awarded each runner a base, resulting in a Bucks run and lots of confusion.
“He caught the ball, took it out of play, and then lost his footing,” Cofer said. “And the rule, I wasn’t sure of the rule, but if you lose your footing in the foul catch and carry area, it is an awarded base on that.”
Danny Grogg came in to score on the play, making the score 3-2. New Market would get the run back, though, as Nick Goode scored on an RBI single by Chase Smallwood in the top of the fifth.
But the strange call by the umpire baffled New Market fans as nobody seemed to know what had happened. Throughout the rest of the game, there were jabs thrown at the umpires from fans and players alike, with the New Market bench receiving a warning from the field umpire at one point.
New Market starter John Bentley, who has been a workhorse for the team since last season, went six innings, throwing 130 pitches. Bentley gave up just two runs on seven hits and struck out eight batters.
His reliever wasn’t quite as locked in. Sterling Jennings managed to get through his first two innings, but walked one batter and hit another in the ninth, setting the Bucks up for their walk-off later in the inning.
Eric Yankey picked up the win for Clover Hill, his second of the season. Yankey pitched one inning, walking a batter and striking out two.
Kevin Chandler started the game for the Bucks, pitching five innings and giving up four runs on seven hits. Chandler struck out five batters in his outing.
The Bucks and Shockers will meet for the second time this season on Wednesday night at Rebel Park in New Market. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.