Evan Dilbeck (11, #13) celebrates with teammate Sam Clinard (11, #22) after scoring off of a hit by Ben Cooper (12, #32). The score gave Manual its first lead of the game at 3-2.
Evan Dilbeck (11, #13) celebrates with teammate Sam Clinard (11, #22) after scoring off of a hit by Ben Cooper (12, #32). The score gave Manual its first lead of the game at 3-2.

Male/Manual baseball preview

The Manual baseball program will be looking for a program-building win when they take on Male (5-2) tonight.

Even though Manual has posted a subpar-looking 6-5 record, the Crimsons have been extremely competitive all season, as in their five losses, they have only been outscored by six total runs. The Crimsons have struggled to close out ballgames, something that will be a necessity against the talented Bulldogs.

“Towards the end of games we tighten up and made too many errors,” Manual pitcher Sam Clinard (12, #22) said. “We need to focus more, lock it up as we say.”

Clinard, who will get the start for Manual tonight, is confident that with him on the mound, Manual can solve it’s late inning issues.

“I think with the way I’ve pitched as of late, I can close the game out by myself.”

Clinard has pitched extremely well for Manual lately. In his last start, last Thursday against defending sixth region champions North Bullitt, Clinard pitched a complete game while only giving up two runs on seven hits and seven strikeouts in route to an 8-2 Crimson victory. Clinard was even more dominant on March 19, when he again went the distance while giving up two runs on just one hit along with seven more strikeouts.

“I just want to go out there and dominate,” Clinard said. “It’s worked pretty well so far and we’ll see how it goes [tonight]. I’m preparing to get the win.”

However, Male will be the toughest opponent that Clinard has faced this season, and the Bulldogs are confident that they will have success.

“Thier pitching can have an impact on us, but I feel defensively we have the upper hand,” Male third baseman/pitcher Jack Cameron (11, #5) said. If we come out and have a solid game like we have been, I feel like we can hit the ball and take home that W.”

Male will try to play small ball with Manual. The Bulldogs want to use their speed to their advantage and put pressure on Manual’s inconsistent defense.

“If we put pressure on them we believe we can win because they haven’t handled our pressure in the past.”

Manual will have to be sound defensively and communicate well to try to defend Male’s small ball approach.

“We have several different bunt coverages/plays that we’ve worked on so we’re definitely prepared for that,” Manual third baseman Quintin Bynum (11, #13) said. A couple weeks ago, down in Bowling Green, we saw a lot of teams that like to bunt, so we know what it’s like.”

The Crimsons are hoping that they’ve learned from their experience in Bowling Green, where the Crimsons faced multiple small ball style teams in the round robin they played in during the weekend of March 11.

“I think it kind of helped us work through what we need to do to defend bunts, and know what we need to communicate to each other,” Bynum said. “It helped us get better covering small ball teams.”

“We just want to execute, that’s been our biggest problem all year,” Clinard said.

Male will also try to jump out and bury the Crimsons early in the ballgame.

“We need to come out and get the upper hand,” Cameron said. “We’re really a momentum team and any way that we can come out and get the upper hand is something that we can do to help ourselves.”

Even though it is a rivalry game, both teams will try to treat the ballgame as normal as possible.

“We don’t really prepare any differently, except we will be more hyped up than usual,” Bynum said. “It’s still just another game and we’re trying to get another win.”

“It’s just another region opponent, another day to come out and get a win,” Cameron said. “It’s definitely fun beating Manual and it’s something that we look forward too, but it’s just another game in the region, as many wins as we can get as possible is great for us.”

Manual will have to play a complete game to have any shot against Male.

“I think that the main thing is that we have to stay sharp on defense,” Bynum said We aren’t worried about our pitching, I know that we have Sam Clinard out there and he’ll do a great job. Offensively, when we have runners on second and third we need to get the runners over and get them in.”

Male and Manual will take the field at 6:30 p.m. tonight. Stay tuned to RedEye for coverage of the game.

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