Fundamentals fail in Falls’ 14-1 home loss
Greg Bates Times Herald Correspondent
With only a handful of practices recently, the Oconto Falls baseball team hasn’t been able to work much on fundamentals.
That presented a problem Monday as the Panthers committed four errors in the first two innings, and Denmark took advantage in a 14-1 victory in five innings in North Eastern Conference action at Oconto Falls.
“Fundamentally, we did a lot of things wrong early on,” Oconto Falls coach Charlie Rochon said. “They hit the ball, put the ball in play, but we didn’t come up with some plays we should have. Balls got underneath us, balls got left and right where they shouldn’t have.”
Oconto Falls struggled making some routine plays. On two occasions, Denmark reached on sacrifice bunts when the Panthers were late covering first base on the throw.
“We’re better than that, and we just didn’t get it done,” Rochon said. “For whatever reason, we were not in it.”
Denmark, which stranded nine runners on base, was disciplined at the plate, walking eight times and reaching base three times on hit by pitches. Of those 11 free passes, eight runners came across to score.
“It was nice to get four across in each of the first three innings,” Denmark coach Bill Miller said. “We got some guys on base and when opportunity came we got a few balls to drop and we took advantage of a few walks in there, too.”
Denmark (2-4, 2-1 NEC) collected just two hits in the opening inning but plated four runs off Oconto Falls starting pitcher Cliff Yuma. The second frame was similar as the Vikings had four runs on four hits.
An early 8-0 deficit wasn’t a great position for Oconto Falls.
“We’re not the type of team that bounces back real well,” Rochon said. “We’re young. If you look around today, we’re very young.”
Yuma took the loss, going two innings and allowing four earned runs on six hits.
“They’re going to get their hits off Cliff, but he doesn’t have to throw so many pitches,” Rochon said. “He’s got good stuff. He gets them to ground out and those types of things. We have to collectively take care of the ball, and we didn’t do that. We didn’t help him at all tonight.”
Oconto Falls (2-5, 1-4 NEC) got a one-out double by Dalton Curl in the second inning off Denmark starter Cole Paplham. After Mitchell Manns walked with two outs, Curl and Manns executed a double steal as Curl slid under the tag at home plate to get the Panthers on the board.
Denmark added four runs in the third off Michael LeVeille in 2/3 of an inning before giving way to Sam Virtues. The Vikings scored twice in the fourth before Mason Sefcik retired the final four batters he faced.
Oconto Falls had a difficult time at the plate, with just one hit for the second straight game. The team has just six hits in the last three games.
Rochon knows his defense needs to shore up in order to stay in games. Oconto Falls will be able to get in a number of practices since it has a week between games.
“Right now, games far outnumber practices for us,” Rochon said. “Not as an excuse, but the gym and it’s a young team, too.”
Team 1 2 3 4 5 R H E
Denmark 4 4 4 2 0 14 9 0
Oconto Falls 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 4