CENTRAL -- There’s nothing imaginary about the fine line Denham Springs High coach Mark Carroll talks about when it comes to winning and losing games in the ultra-competitive District 4-5A race.
Two days after allowing two unearned runs and losing to league-leading Zachary on a bases-loaded hit batter in the bottom of the 7th inning, the Yellow Jackets were stifled offensively.
The defensive lapses – three of which contributed to three unearned runs in the loss to Zachary – reared their ugly head once again Saturday against rival Central, but Denham managed only three hits and none in the final 3 innings of a 5-1 setback.
“We had one of those hit-them-right-at-you games,” Carroll said. “We just didn’t get in and compete real good at the plate. We made a lot more solid contact swings against Zachary’s guys (in Thursday’s 4-3 loss).”
DSHS (17-11-1, 3-5 4-5A) managed three singles against Central right-hander Grant Mayers, but none after Layne Didier’s 4th-inning single to right field.
The Yellow Jackets, who opened with a 1-0 lead in the 1st inning on Braden Doughty’s RBI groundout, had four base runners the remainder of the game after their first at-bat with Cam Debate (in 3rd), Dawson Albin (in 4th) and Cade Doughty (in 5th) left stranded.
Central coach Mike Forbes complimented Mayers for his ability to get out of innings relatively quickly, enabling him to finish his complete-game effort in 106 pitches.
A prime example of that was Denham never extending Mayers behind six pitches in any one plate appearance. The Jackets also had 13 at bats that required three pitches or fewer.
The final two base runners for DSHS – Debate and Cade Doughty – reached on an error and fielder’s choice, respectively, in the 5th inning. Mayers retired the Jackets in order in both the 6th and 7th on three groundouts and three fly balls.
The first of Denham’s three errors led to an unearned run when Andrew Harris singled sharply to right field with two outs. That brought in Cade Kimbrell, but on the same play shortstop Cade Doughty wasn’t able to handle the relay throw into the infield, enabling courtesy runner Shamar Henry to score as well.
“We’ve been working on the throws and the relays and did a great job at practice (Friday) and come out (Saturday) and don’t execute,” Carroll said. “If we execute (Saturday), the guy’s thrown out at the plate by a mile.
“We just have to handle the ball. That’s the stuff we have to make the plays on. That’s all on us. We’ll keep working on that and hopefully it will click in at some point. As long as our pitchers are giving chances to win, I’ll take that right now.”
Central took a 3-1 lead in the 3rd inning against starting pitcher Brock Batty, loading the bases with one out after center fielder Cole Montgomery came within an eyelash of a spectacular catch on what would have been the second out.
Instead, Carson Balthazar drove in unearned run on a groundout.
“Brock had a good enough game to give us a chance to win,” Carroll said. “We’ve got to cut out some of the mistakes, a lot of the stuff we’ve been working on in practice and don’t get out here and execute. That’s the frustrating part.”
Batty ran into trouble in the 4th inning, sandwiching a bloop single around two hit batters, to load the bases with one out.
Cade Doughty followed with a highlight-reel play, coming up with Joseph Schopp’s grounder up the middle to get a force at second, but his throw on the double-play attempt to end the inning was wide and allowed a second run to score on the play.
Batty yielded four hits, five runs (two earned), two walks and struck out eight in a 98-pitch outing.
“Brock threw well enough with eight punch-outs if we could have made a couple of plays behind him,” said Carroll, whose team hosts Walker at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. “That’s the kind of stuff we have to keep working on and clean up. We’ll get there. We’ve just got to hurry up and get there.”
CENTRAL 5, DSHS 1
DSHS 100 000 0 -- 1 3 3
Central 021 200 x -- 5 4 2
Brock Batty and Braden Doughty; Grant Mayers and Drew Lasseigne. W -- Mayers (6-1). L -- Batty (4-5). Records: DSHS 17-11-1, 3-5 District 4-5A; Central 21-10, 5-2. Up next: Walker at DSHS, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday; Central at Zachary, 6 p.m. Tuesday.