FARMINGTON— The game of baseball often comes down to which team can do the little things right. That was certainly the case Tuesday night as the Sting handled the Pack 13-4 at Ricketts Park.
"We've been working in the mornings trying to get better and figure out all those little things to compete," said Sting coach Tim Trotter. "We know we're going to have to do those little things, small ball, throwing strikes, lead-off outs, it's all those things."
While the Sting were able to convert key plays, the Pack was crippled by small mistakes that built up over the course of the game.
After ending the first inning with a 1-6-3 double play, the Pack looked as though they'd do the same in the bottom of the second. With one out and a runner on first, the Sting's Garrett Farmer hit a grounder to second baseman Raudy Castillo, who fielded the ball and flipped it to Kevin Morales. Dragging his foot across the bag for the force, Morales threw to first. The ball arrived in time, but was dropped, keeping the inning alive. The play would haunt the Pack as the Sting scored three runs in the inning on the two-out rally.
"As soon as these guys have one little mistake it gets to their head and another one occurs," said Pack coach Patrick Aspaas. "If we clean it up like in the first inning, we got that double play right off the bat, it was a good one-two-three and the next inning we could have had it again, but it's just those little routine errors."
Those routine errors would later prove the demise of the Pack.
After giving up another six runs in the fourth on five hits and four walks, making the score 9-0 Sting heading into the top of the fifth, the Pack needed a pair of runs to extend the game and avoid a run-rule loss.
The Pack's Eddie Martinez hit a leadoff double into right field, and was followed up with Sean Shepherd laying a perfect bunt down the third base line to advance Martinez to third. On the throw to first to get Shepherd, the ball sailed wide of its target, scoring Martinez and moving Shepherd all the way to third.
After adding two more runs, Konnar McGee drew a walk to put runners on the corners for the Pack with two outs. On the first pitch of the next at bat McGee took off for second. Sting catcher Chris Moore gathered the ball and gunned it to second, trying to catch McGee stealing and end the inning, but the throw came up short and hopped past the bag. The miscue allowed enough time for Morales, who was on third, to touch home for the inning's fourth run.
"They can fight," Aspaas said of his team's ability to battle back. "I told them, 'They're up nine. We've got to fight. We've got to score to keep the game going.' And they did. We executed all the plays we needed to and got our four runs. And then that next inning, it was just little mental errors that hurt."
In the bottom of the fifth, with two on and no outs, the Sting's Isaiah George hit a grounder to Brenner Bridger at first base. The ball got under Bridger's glove and rolled into the outfield, scoring two runs and stretching the lead to seven.
The next at bat saw another error by the Pack when Alik Abbott popped up to shallow left. With the left fielder charging and the shortstop backpedaling there was miscommunication between the two with the ball dropping as the two avoided a collision.
After Shayne Sandoval drew a walk to load the bases Justin Nakai hit a grounder to second. Fielding the ball, Castillo threw home for the force, but the ball sailed over the catcher's head, reaching the backstop. Both George and Abbott scored on the error to make it 13-4 and end the game.
Aside from the four innings in the fifth, the Sting defense played a near perfect game, showing Sting coach Tim Trotter the improvement made during the Connie Mack season that he hopes will carry over to next year's high school season.
"I think they were locked in," Trotter said. "I think those guys that were juniors are starting to realize that they're seniors now and they're picking up some leadership now."