BASEBALL: Gaston's offense continues to struggle, but team gets a split against Knappa

When Gaston senior Cody Fassold takes the mound, the Greyhounds are tough to beat. When Fassold doesn't pitch - well, all bets are off.

Case in point: last Friday's doubleheader against Knappa. Fassold was practically unhittable in Game 2, striking out 15 and leading the Hounds to a 5-0 Northwest League victory. Game 1 was a different story, however. With Fassold resting, Gaston threw everything but the kitchen sink at Knappa and none of it worked. The end result was an 11-1 loss.

Offensively, Gaston (5-5, 1-1) is still struggling to find its rhythm. Until the team starts stringing together hits and scoring a few runs, head coach Tim Olietti will save Fassold for the second game of doubleheaders, hoping to preserve at least a split.

'Most teams are going to throw their ace in Game 1,' Olietti said. 'I don't want to send my best pitcher out there and get beat 2-1 or 1-0.'

In Game 1 on Friday, Olietti trotted out every pitcher on the roster except Fassold. Things were going smoothly until the third inning, when Knappa (7-4, 2-3) parlayed three Gaston errors into seven runs. The Loggers led 7-1 by the end of the third and never looked back.

'We went from being ahead and feeling good to falling apart,' Olietti said. 'The wheels just came off.'

A mental error in the outfield turned a routine fly ball into a leadoff double, which was followed by a walk and a hit batter to load the bases. A single tied the game, and a grand slam quickly made it 5-1. Three Gaston errors led to two more runs for Knappa, and the Hounds never recovered.

Fassold was able to stop the bleeding in Game 2 with a dominant performance. The senior tossed a complete game two-hitter, striking out 15 and allowing just four baserunners in a 5-0 Gaston win.

'He was pretty good,' Olietti said. 'He didn't need to be 100 percent.'

Earlier in the week, Gaston picked up a non-league win over Catlin Gabel (1-5). The score tied 4-4 after five innings, Olietti gave his team a pep talk in the dugout and Gaston responded with six runs in the sixth.

'Let's just say I challenged them in the dugout,' Olietti said. 'We went out and scored six that inning.'

Nick Brunswick and Fassold opened the frame with back-to-back doubles. Galen Hinely and Ryan Lewis each added RBI singles later in the inning as Gaston pulled away. Lewis finished the game 2 for 3 with a run scored and three stolen bases. Parker Bolden went 1 for 3 with two RBIs and two steals.

Olietti's diagnosis of the team's early-season struggles is simple - the Hounds are still learning to play at the varsity level.

'We still look very inexperienced,' he said. 'We're not young; we're just inexperienced. We make baserunning mistakes and mistakes in the field that aren't necessarily errors - they aren't the kind of things that will show up in the scorebook - but they're hurting us.

'I still say we have the horses to be a competitive team if we can get our bats going.'

The Hounds will look to get on track Friday with a doubleheader against Corbett. The game is scheduled to be played in Gaston, but weather and field conditions could force Olietti to move the game to Corbett.

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