Comedy of errors not too funny for PSC
|Potomac State starting pitcher Joe Stupka (7) is greeted by his teammates after being pulled in the fifth inning of the Catamounts' 15-7 loss to St. Petersburg (Fla.) on Wednesday in the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. Stupka allowed just four hits but left trailing 10-5, as Potomac State allowed nine unearned runs in his 4 1/3 innings of work. Tribune photo/Dane Stickney|
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - The Potomac State College baseball team will undoubtedly be leaving the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., with a bitter taste in its mouth.
The bitterness may not come from the fact that they lost on Wednesday afternoon, but perhaps from how they lost.
The Catamounts committed nine errors in seven innings en route to a 15-7 loss to the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Community College Titans, thus eliminating them from postseason play. The game was cut to seven innings because of the 8-run mercy rule used in the tournament.
St. Petersburg managed its 15 runs on just eight hits, with 13 of those runs being unearned.
Potomac State starter Joe Stupka (0-1) allowed just one earned run on four hits in 4 1/3 innings of work, but he still left the game trailing 10-5, as the Catamount defense handed over nine unearned runs during his time on the hill.
Stupka's successor, reliever Pat Adkins, didn't fare any better, allowing three runs on just two hits, with only one run being earned.
Dale Kestner closed out the game with only a third of an inning of work. He allowed two runs on two hits - and neither run was earned.
At the end of Wednesday's play, Potomac State ranked third out of 12 teams with a team ERA of 3.80. However, only 10 of the 30 runs allowed by the Catamounts in the tournament were earned. PSC pitchers also didn't help their own cause by walking two more batters than they struck out (19-17).
That's a tough way to end a season in which the Catamounts went 33-14, qualified for their second straight Junior College World Series and recorded their first series win, said head coach Doug Little.
"It was just one of those days," he said. "Nothing went right out there."
But the team's rough play doesn't erase and otherwise solid season, which saw the Catamounts go 1-2 at the national championship tournament, Little said.
"We're definitely excited about making it here," he said. "We did better than last year, these kids played hard."
Catamount sophomore third baseman J.T. Osburn had a hard time swallowing the loss.
"It's hard," said Osburn, who was Potomac State's best hitter in the regular season but finished just 1-for-13 in the World Series. "But I'm proud of this team. Every guy is a great ballplayer and a good friend."
Potomac State, which defeated the Titans 12-6 in the opening round, got off to a good start, taking a 4-0 lead after an inning and a half of play.
St. Petersburg had some early gifts of its own as the Catamounts scored three times in the top of the first - twice on wild pitches. Bill Wooten supplied the other run with an RBI double to give PSC a 3-0 lead against St. Petersburg starter Peter Taraskevich.
The Cats tacked on another run - and chased Taraskevich in the process - when Wooten picked up his second RBI of the game on a fielder's choice, giving PSC a 4-0 lead heading into the home half of the second.
And that's when the wheels began to fall off.
The Titans scored five times in the inning on just one hit, as Potomac State committed five errors. All five runs were unearned.
The Titans tacked on four more runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 9-4 lead. Trent Kline delivered the big blow for St. Petersburg, connecting on a three-run home run with two outs.
The Catamounts got one run back in the fifth on an RBI single by Brennen Dayton, but the Titans got the run right back as Louis Rojas hit a solo homer off of Adkins to make it 10-5.
Potomac State cut the deficit to three runs in the top of the sixth, as Wooten came through again with an RBI triple and J.T. Osburn recorded an RBI groundout to make it 10-7, but St. Petersburg put the game away with five runs in the bottom of the seventh, as Potomac State committed three more errors in the inning.
Paul Cinder (1-0) picked up the victory for Titans in relief. He went 4 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits and striking out four.
Cheyne Hurst went 2-for-4 for St. Petersburg with two RBI and two runs scored, while Brent Ferguson also went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Wooten, Brent Lockhart, Tino Sloboda and Ryan Anderson each collected two hits for Potomac State.
St. Petersburg (3-1 JUCO, 47-15 overall) advanced to the Final 3 on Thursday afternoon with a 13-3 victory over Wallace State (Ala.). in six innings.
Wallace State handed Potomac State its first loss of the tournament on Tuesday, 9-3.