FARMINGTON— Occasionally in baseball the ball will take a funny hop as it approaches the defense, turning what would normally be a routine out into a single.
RC Foster was on the wrong end of those plays at least three separate times Monday evening against the Sting, who went on to win 14-6 via the run-rule.
"We did pretty good," said the Sting's Isaiah George after the game. "Just a couple mistakes that we made, routine plays we should have made, opportunities we should have taken advantage of, but it's just part of the game."
The first funny play came in the bottom of the third. George hit a chopper right at Rivercats second baseman Butter Montoya, who readied to gather the ball. But the second bounce was higher than expected, almost higher than the initial bounce, and easily cleared the infield. Two runs would score on the play.
Nearly the same play occurred in the fourth inning. Chris Moore hit a chopper that took its second hop where the infield grass and dirt meet. The unexpected change in trajectory carried the ball to the outfield, scoring another two runs for the Sting.
But the third of the unlucky bounces was the one that sealed a win for the Sting.
In the bottom of the fifth, up 13-6 with a runner on second and one out, Easton Haskill hit a grounder toward Casey Simmons at shortstop. Again the ball bounced where the grass and dirt met, sneaking past Simmons and into left field. Alik Abbott made it home on the play for the game-winning run, via the run-rule.
Although those hits were a bit of good fortune for the Sting, they wouldn't have been possible without the lineup consistently putting the ball into play.
"I thought that we did a pretty good job staying back," Sting coach Tim Trotter of the teams batting. "It seemed like everybody in the lineup got a hit. Obviously that's going to make us pretty successful. And we actually got a few bunts down and played a little small game, which we haven't been able to do, so that's good to see. That was probably the positive of the outing."
But it wasn't all success for the Sting, who at times struggled defensively.
"It was a little up and down," Trotter said of the Sting's defensive performance. "We kind of struggled on the mound and worked through several guys."
Trotter said the strategy for the game was to use multiple guys on the mound, regardless of their production, in order to get the pitching staff ready for the Sting's upcoming tournament in Denver this weekend. In changing from pitcher to pitcher no one was able to get into much of a groove on the mound, which kept George busy behind the plate.
In all his gear, as the temperature neared triple digits during the game, George continued to battle behind the plate, trying to keep every pitch in the dirt in front of him.
"It's just part of playing that position," George said of dealing with the high temperature. "I'm just doing my job and doing what I'm put back there to do."
Trotter, who praised his catcher's work behind the plate, said it was that attitude that makes George a leader for the Sting, both on the field and in the dugout. And it's a role George has embraced this season.
"When people are sitting around or not doing their job I try to push them to do everything right," George said. "I try not to lead by what I say, but to lead by my actions and what I do."