PRINCETON — One big inning and two bases loaded were enough for the Ottawa Pirates to squeak by the Princeton Tigers 6-4 Tuesday night in Princeton.
Princeton got out to a hot start as second baseman J.J. Vaccaro sent a single to the right field gap, plating two Tiger runs with no outs in the first inning.
The inning was cut short as the Ottawa battery of pitcher Tripp Walch and catcher Nick Quick settled in. Quick caught Vaccaro stealing and Walch struck out the next two Tigers to end the inning.
Ottawa answered in the top of the third inning, loading the bases with one out and plating three runs. Designated hitter Kyle Wallbaum was hit by a pitch to score a run. The very next batter, Quick, sent a single up the middle to score two more Pirate runs.
“We need to get a little more efficient with our pitches, and once we get a little more efficient we won’t burn up so many guys, won’t hit so many batters, and we won’t have those sore arms,” Princeton coach Tim Taylor said.
Princeton answered quickly in the bottom half, scoring two runs including one run on Vaccaro’s second single of the afternoon, a bloop single down the right field line. Shortstop Jake Reinhardt scored the final Tiger run later in the inning to make the score 4-3 after three innings.
Princeton’s offense struggled to plate any more runs for the remainder of the game and Ottawa’s offense chipped away, adding one run in the fourth and one run in the sixth, giving Ottawa a run lead going into the final inning.
“If we don’t have a few mistakes then a couple runs don’t score but it’s not on one guy or the other,” Taylor said. “A couple of high pitches, a couple of passed balls during the game and the game just didn’t work out for us but these guys are a bunch of ball players, and we’re going to have a good season.”
Ottawa took advantage of two key Princeton defensive missteps to add an insurance run in the seventh inning as a Princeton error led to another Ottawa batter, center fielder Weston Hoffman, drawing another bases loaded hit-by-pitch from Tiger reliever Levi Bates to end the scoring, giving the Pirates a 6-4 victory.
The win was the first for Ottawa (1-1) and first-year coach Tom Hart.
Vaccaro led the Tiger offense going 2-4 with 3 runs batted in.
“We played good baseball. We had good defense, we had good offense, good pitching and all the way around I think our boys played a good baseball game. A couple of things fell their way that turned the corner for them but they got a good win it’ll be a good lesson for our boys.”
Taylor has seen improvement in his team already this season and expects the team to learn from today’s game and work towards continuing to improve their play.
“The boys, where we needed them to start hitting, are starting to hit the ball better. So we are getting better at bats and we are getting deeper and deeper into our lineup hitting wise and that can only help us through the season,” Taylor said.
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