By Brian Besch
Livingston baseball was on the short side of a 5-3 contest in their first district game at home Tuesday night versus the Falcons of Huffman Hargrave.
The opportunities were there, but the Lions could not take advantage. Errors and walks that extended innings for the Hargrave offense added to the frustrations the Livingston attack had in leaving runners on base.
“That’s a tough one to lose,” new Lion coach David Miller said. “Anytime you lose a district ball game, it’s a tough one, especially one where you had a chance to win it in the seventh inning. There are some things that we have to work on, but the beauty of it is everything that we have seen is fixable. I told the guys that we have to come to work tomorrow ready to go.”
The Falcons scored their first three runs – in the first, second and fifth innings – all on sacrifice fly balls. They added another in the fifth on a wild pitch to make it 4-0.
Livingston threatened in the second with two in scoring position, and in the third with the bases loaded. A single by Chevy Peters in the fourth inning with a runner on second looked as though it would plate a run, but Lane Ward was thrown out at the plate from shallow left field.
However, the Lions would break through in the fifth, when leadoff hitter Bryce Barnes was hit by a pitch. Caden Vickery followed with a single and both advanced a base on a wild pitch. Jordan Huson drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Jordan Bush was robbed in left field, as a diving catch ended the inning.
Pitcher Kason Nelson exited the game after 6.1 innings, surrendering just two hits in his outing. He did walk a batter before leaving, who would come around to score on a single by Falcon pitcher Romero Meza. It was Meza’s third RBI of the night.
“Kason pitched his butt off for us tonight and made some adjustments as the game went,” the coach said. “We just have to find a way to put a full seven Innings together on the mound and on the field.”
Down 5-1 in their final at-bat, Livingston kept fighting. Barnes was hit by a pitch and Vickery singled. Huson walked to load the bases with no outs. A controversial call occurred beyond second base when an infield fly rule was called, yet no one made a play. Miller argued with umpires that a defender was not around to call the infield fly rule, but to no avail. A run did score after tagging at third, cutting the lead to 5-2. A wild pitch allowed another run to score, but the Lion rally would end there.
Livingston is 0-2 to begin the district portion of the schedule, also dropping a 5-0 game to Hamshire-Fannett on Friday. The coach said Nelson again pitched well in the district opener, with no score going into the bottom of the sixth. The coaching staff is constantly evaluating, according to Miller, and the lineup penciled in for Tuesday may not be the same in a few weeks.
“So far, we have played some tough teams. We have run the gauntlet as far as all of these tournaments that we have played in, and we have played multiple ranked teams. They have run up against some quality arms and some quality teams that can hit and play defense. We are 6-10 right now and I would much rather be 10-6.
“They fought (tonight). These kids will fight and I’m proud of that. They have worked their tails off all year, and it is in there. We are trying continually to bring that out and we are putting them in tough situations to fight through it.”