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Mustangs slow start proves to be costly

BEAVER SPRINGS — Midd-West fought to the very end but ultimately fell to Central Columbia, 8-4, in a Heartland Conference baseball game on Friday.

“I hope the boys see that they’ve got to cone be prepared to play from the first pitch pitch to the last,” Mustangs coach Scott Wright said. “We kind of shot ourselves in the foot with some errors and some key plays.”

The Mustangs had a rought start to the game as starting pitcher Preston Arbogast ran into trouble early. After getting the lead off hitter to line out to short, Luke Zeisloft came to the plate and sent one back up the middle into center field.

Zeisloft then stole second base before Arbogast managed to get Trystan Crawford to fly out to center. Zeisloft made his move again this time stealing third before Cade Davis hit a three 3-2 pitch in to left center for an RBI single to score Zeisloft to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead.

Central Columbia starter Dylan Harris helped his own cause as Harris doubled to deep right-center field to put runners on second and third. Matt Bierly then took his turn at the plate and came out aggressive with a first pitch shot to left, scoring both Davis and Harris, extending the lead to 3-0 by the end of the frame.

Midd-West responded in the bottom half of the inning with a Griffin Paige single to right center that drove in Hunter Wolfley to cut the lead to 3-1.

“It seems like if they jump out to the lead we can respond at will usually,” Wright said. “Tonight we just didn’t do that.”

The Mustangs edged even closer in the bottom half of the third inning as Julian Krainak grounded out to second for the second out, but Wolfley scored on the play to make it a 3-2 ball game.

In the top of the fourth the Midd-West defense began to show some cracks as errors allowed both Zach Smith and Mason Yorty to score. Harris reached on an infield single that brought home Zeisloft for the third run in the inning, making it 6-2, Central Columbia.

In the fifth, the Blue Jays added two more runs as Trystan Crawford hammered a single to left field, driving in both Carter Crawford and Yorty to make it an 8-2 game.

Midd-West refused to back down and in the bottom of the seventh inning with one out, Brayden Swineford singled to right field. Trevor Sheaffer then took his turn at the plate and singled to left to put runners on first and second. Garrett Leitzel then came in and grounded one to third base only to have the throw go wide, allowing Swineford to hustle his way down to home plate to cut the lead to 8-3. Sheaffer then later scored on a passed ball to make it 8-4. Midd-West could draw no closer in the loss.

“We kept fighting. We scored some runs here at the end and this team is never going to quit on you,” Wright praised.

Swineford led the Mustangs at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a run scored. Harris led Central Columbia going 3-for-4 at the plate with a double and an RBI while Bierly went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

“Hitting wise I thought we’ve done well,” Wright said. “That pitcher that was out there tonight for Central, he’s the real deal and we hit him.”

Arbogast pitched the first inning for the Mustangs with a strikeout before being pulled for Logan Rager who pitched the next 2.1 innings with three strikeouts and four walks. The ball then went into the hands of Garrett Leitzel who threw the final 3.2 innings, recording seven strikeouts and only walking one batter.

“Pitching I thought was fantastic,” Wright said. “They’re throwing well, I’m happy with where we’re at with the pitching.”

Midd-West drops to (2-1, 1-1 Heartland Conference) and will look to rebound on Monday as the Mustangs host the Greenwood Wildcats in non-league action.

“We just talked to them a little bit here about how they respond and that’s kind of team we’re going to see from here on out,” Wright said. “I don’t think we’re going to have any issue. I think this team is going to bounce right back and respond just like I know we can.”

Central Columbia 8, Midd-West 4

CC 300 320 0 8-10-1

MW 101 000 2 4-6-3

WP: Dylan Harris. LP: Preston Arbogast. SO: Harris 3 (CC); Arbogast, Logan Rager 3, Garrett Leitzel 6 (MW). BB: Harris 2 (CC); Rager 4, Leitzel (MW). 2B: Harris, Matt Bierly (CC). MH: Harris 3-4, Bierly 2-4 (CC); Brayden Swineford 2-3 (MW). RBI: Trystan Crawford 2, Cade Davis, Harris, Bierly 2 (CC); Julian Krainak (MW).

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