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“Frustrated” Commodores drop game two of North Half final to Saltillo

SALTILLO – Zach Meagrow threw his bat in the direction of the Lafayette dugout, spiking his batting helmet into the grass. He had just struck out for the second time to end a very quick second third game. He ran it back for a third strikeout just two innings later, this time the bases were loaded.

Really, the sequence of tossed bat and helmet was a short clip representing all of Monday evening for the Lafayette Commodores. Dropping game two of the North Half final on the road 4-1, the Commodores now desperately need that all-or nothing game three Tuesday evening.

It seemed early like everything was going against Lafayette. A few early ball-strike calls that could’ve gotten the Commodores out of an inning or two went in Saltillo’s favor. The noticeable frustration clearly got to Taylor Tarver on the mound – he just seemed to be thinking ‘what more can I do here?’ for much of his short outing.

“You have to be mentally tougher. There was a lot left in the game and we’re getting all ate up and frustrated in the early innings over things we can’t control,” said head coach John Walker. “We can’t control what that guy behind the plate was doing. And there’s a lot of barking. There’s guys in the dugout upset with how the game was going. But really we just have to be mentally tougher.”

Saltillo’s first run of the game came following a first inning error. With the game tied in the second, Tarver walked back-to-back batters behind those debatable ball-strike calls to start the inning. Both would soon score with a sacrifice fly and an RBI hit to Wilson Varner at second that he wisely just played to first for the out.

Allowing just three earned runs – the fourth came following an error – Tarver wasn’t able to bounce back well enough from that early frustration and questionable officiating. Walker pulled Tarver after 3.2 innings pitched, replacing him with sophomore Blake Loper. Loper finished the remaining 2.1 innings on the mound, pitching really well and not allowing a single Tiger run.

As evident by the early anecdote, finding any offense against Saltillo starter Bryce Capobianco. Meagrow wasn’t the only culprit of the three-strikeout game – Foster Westbrook did the same. The Commodores put a little bit of pressure on Tiger closer Bowen Carlock. After striking out Loper to start the inning, Carlock gave up back-to-back-to-back hits, bringing the winning run to the plate with just one out. Pressure mounting, Lafayette then flew out and grounded out to end the game.

“We’re going to be there at the end. We’re just going to keep chipping away or keep trying to find a way from being a swing or two away,” Walker said. “There’s no moral victories from that. They just beat us. Their guy pitched a good game and we didn’t come through when we needed to come through.”

The North Half final series now comes down to an all-or-nothing game three. Lafayette and Saltillo will play that game Tuesday at 7 p.m. at W.V. Brewer Field.