Heading into Friday’s double header with the Junction City Tigers, the Cottage Grove Lions baseball team knew that they would need a pair of wins to remain in the Sky-Em conference championship race with the Sisters Outlaws. The Lions had won with a 7th inning rally the day before at Elmira 9-7 and were in a prime position to set up a big date with the Outlaws on Tuesday at Kelly field if they could take care of business against Junction City. However, the Lions bats struggled to get going in either game as Cottage Grove dropped both matches against the Tigers.
“We pitched and played defense well, giving up three runs and five runs”, Lions coach, Dan Geiszler said. “Normally we are going to be right in the game and have a chance to win.”
The Lions had a chance during the 3rd inning of game one to get a few on the board but left the bases loaded. Cottage Grove did manage to take a 1-0 lead in the 5th inning after Hunter Gipson was able to steal home, but Junction City responded in the 6th by scoring three runs. The Lions, for the second time in as many days had the chance for a 7th inning rally but Jaace Cross struck out with bases loaded and sending the Lions to a game one 1-3 loss.
“Offensively we struggled a lot against some pitchers we probably shouldn’t have struggled against, that was frustrating. We got our guys up that we wanted in key situations but we just couldn’t come through.”
Cottage Grove attempted to respond in game two of the double header but again couldn’t get things going offensively. Things unraveled quickly for the Lions in the 5th inning when Junction City expanded on its 1-0 lead by scoring four runs and taking a 5-0 lead. The Lions did get on the board in the 5th when Wyatt Sayles got on an RBI single bringing home Brett Ollivant and then shortly after that Gipson made his way to home plate to cut the score to 5-2. Sayles pitching was solid in the 6th inning giving the Lions a chance heading into the 7th. Jaydin Osban got an RBI single bringing home Sayles which gave the Lions some hope that they could rally, but with two outs and nobody on base, TJ Bellamy went down on a flyout giving Junction city the 3-5 game two win.
When asked if he believed it was difficult to bounce back after losing game one of a double header coach Geiszler responded “It shouldn’t be, in my mind if you lose a game you should be more motivated to come out and do something a little different. We were a little better in the second game but not good enough.”
The Lions (12-7) chances of repeating as Sky-Em champions got a lot tougher with the losses to Junction City. Cottage Grove now sits three games behind Sisters for first place. The Outlaws and the Lions will face off Tuesday, being the third matchup between the two schools this season. Sisters took the first game 10-0 and the Lions handed the Outlaws their only loss of 2017 in game two 1-0, both games taking place back on April 14th.
“I told them we have a lot to improve on and we are going to come into the next few days and work on those. We kind of have our backs against the wall, we came into this game 7-2 (in league play) sitting pretty good in second and now 7-4 sitting tied for third. Our backs are against the wall and we better come out and perform. These seniors have four games guaranteed left so we will see. Hopefully we can come out, do what we need to do, and at least play well. If we play well and lose that’s okay, but it’s frustrating when you don’t play well and lose” Geiszler concluded.