The summer season ends after back-to-back losses to the Pacers

by: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Sandys Rhett Schilperoort dives safely back to first base during Saturdays 5-4 loss to LakeridgeThe Sandy Pioneers nearly came back from the dead in the bottom of the seventh inning against Lakeridge by erupting for four runs – but they needed five.

Sandy’s furious comeback bid stalled just short as it fell to the Pacers, 5-4, in Game 2 of the best two-out-of-three series on Saturday. Lakeridge eliminated the Pioneers from the OIBA playoffs with the win.

The late push by Sandy was commendable, but the Pioneers hurt themselves early in the game and couldn’t quite make up for it. Sandy allowed four first-inning runs, and Lakeridge did not have to do much to earn them. One run scored on a passed ball, another came in on a balk and one more crossed thanks to an error.

“When you give teams extra outs and you’re out there for too long, it can put a lot of pressure on everyone,” Sandy coach Garet Luebbert said.

Sandy settled down on the mound and in the field after surrendering the four early runs and gave up just one more the rest of the game. The Pioneers could have chipped away at the deficit, but their bats were missing in action. A single up the middle by catcher Jordan Mambaje in the third inning was the lone Sandy hit in the first five innings.

“I know we didn’t swing the bats well, but when you’re down 4-0 in the first inning, it can be a mountain to climb mentally,” Luebbert said.

Other than Mambaje’s hit, Sandy barely managed to make contact. The Lakeridge starting pitcher struck out 10 Pioneers in four and two-thirds innings, including the final five batters he faced. An inconsistent strike zone contributed to the anemic hitting, but didn’t explain it entirely.

“He did a good job changing speeds and locating,” Luebbert said. “It’s just frustrating when you’re down early and you feel like you have to do too much instead of taking what the pitcher gives you. Then when you have a situation where the strike zone is unpredictable, it makes it that much tougher.”

Inexplicably, Lakeridge made a pitching change with two outs in the fifth inning and Sandy had the new arm timed by the seventh, which set up the comeback. The Pioneers finally put the ball in play with regularity and put pressure on the defense. The Pacers made three seventh-inning errors to let Sandy back in the game.

The errors gave way to an RBI-single by Mitchell Lovely and a huge two-run single from the bat of Nick Martin. The big hits made it a 5-4 game with no outs in the final frame. With Martin on first, Rhett Schilperoort laid down a sacrifice bunt to put the potential tying-run in scoring position. Carson Dwyre followed by flying out to center, which brought Austin Carson to the plate with two outs. He dribbled a slow-roller to the shortstop and raced to beat out the throw to first with a head-first slide, but was called out on a bang-bang play.

Sandy dropped the first game of the series on Friday night by a mark of 5-3. The Pioneers led 3-0 in the fourth inning, but the six errors they committed let Lakeridge score five unanswered runs.

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