SOUTH BEND – It was a rough start that got rougher as Plymouth took one on the chin to start their new season at St. Joe by a final of 12-3.
“We saw some things today we need to clean up,” said Plymouth coach Ryan Wolfe. “Way too many free bases. We walked the lead off guy twice, I think we hit three or four guys. That’s baseball, you can’t give up free bases. We need to clean up some errors in the middle of the infield. We’ll do that an we’ll get back at it.”
A lead off walk to start the game by Plymouth starter Matt Dobuck came back to haunt him one hitter later as Brady Gumpf took a 2-2 hanging change up over 400 feet to dead center for a two run homer, that would be the game for four innings.
“He’s trying to get some confidence in that change up and that’s something we really need to be able to throw especially to right hand hitters in the middle of the lineup,” said Wolfe. “I thought we also need to work some pitches deep in the count to get them out.”
Meanwhile Plymouth hitters struggled with Indians senior right hander Joe Rotkis who struck out seven, walked just one and allowed just two Plymouth baserunners without giving up a hit in four innings work.
“He threw a lot of fastballs,” said Wolfe of Rotkis performance. “Pitchers this time of year are ahead of hitters and he had some giddyup on the fastball and we were kind of tardy on some things. They also had some good plays defensively early on in the game and that makes a difference. If we can push a couple across early that makes a big difference.”
“I thought we had some good swings,” said Wolfe, “But we have to more consistent in terms of having a plan. We need to know the game, have an awareness of the game. That’s probably where we need to improve most. The situation. The count. What we’re expecting at the plate?”
“Even in the field we need to have an awareness of everything that’s going on,” he said, “And I think that will come. We’ll continue to work hard. That’s what we do.”
For his part Dobuck settled in after the first to strike out two and allow two baserunners with the home run the only hit in three innings. The fourth inning, however was where things started to go sour for the Pilgrims.
Dobuck fell victim to some wildness in the fourth walking the lead off hitter and hitting the next two batters. Joe Barron came on and gave up a single followed by three straight walks of his own. Before Thomas Dolan could put out the fire the Indians had added five more runs to put the game out of reach.
St. Joe lefty A.J. Klimek came on in the fifth to relieve Rotkis and the Pilgrims gained some life with RBI singles by Ivan Winkle and Jesus Luva. Winkle’s RBI single was the first Pilgrim hit of the game.
The Pilgrims were able to pin another on Klimek in the sixth on an RBI single by Jackson Lee to get Plymouth within 8-3.
In the St. Joe sixth however, the Indians struck reliever Jacob Deacon for four more, the big blow a two run double by Rotkis that would all but end it. Senior right hander Michael Schroeder would come on to close out the win for the Indians.
Plymouth will have no time to worry about the opening night loss as they will be in action again the next two nights. LaVille comes to Bill Nixon field tonight – weather permitting – with a 4:45 start and South Central will be in on Friday with a 4:15 p.m. start.
ST. JOE 12, PLYMOUTH 3
at St. Patrick’s Park
Plymouth 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 – 3 5 2
St. Joe 2 0 0 5 1 4 x – 12 7 2
WP – Rotkis (1-0). LP – Dobuck (0-1). HR – Gumpf (SJ). 2B – Rotkis (SJ).