Male outfielder John Ullom (10, #18) hit a high fly ball. Manual left fielder Drew Marquardt (12, #11) ran back to the warning track and then waited, as Marquardt beat the ball by a good three to four seconds. However, Ullom’s fly ball would eventually sail over the fence, and Marquardt’s head, for a leadoff solo home run to give Male a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning.
“When they hit that ball out, at that point it was 2-0 and we were still in the game, but it really deflated our morale,” Manual catcher Chris Gambert (12, #25) said.
Ullom’s dinger helped continue Male’s hot start, in which the Bulldogs snatched the early momentum and built up a 3-0 lead by the middle of the third inning.
“The energy we brought to the game was really special,” Male pitcher Jack Cameron (11, #5) said. “It’s always fun playing Manual, and to bring the energy that we brought and to hit the ball like we did, it just catapulted us into the lead and got the win.”
“They just put pressure on us,” Manual Head Coach Matt Timbario said. “Every inning they would put the ball in play. They made Clinard and Olson make pitches, which made them have a high pitch count and they just put pressure on us every inning. They made us stop them, and that’s why they won.”
Male came attacking right out of the gate, as the Bulldogs would score a run in each of the first three innings, which was capped by Ullom, whose home run and RBI triple accounted for two of the three runs.
Manual did fight back in the bottom of the third, as Riley Noe (11, #4) scored on a wild pitch and starting pitcher Sam Clinard (12, #22) knocked in Gambert on an RBI double to get Manual within one run at 3-2.
“When we got down we rallied and we showed good poise but then they blew it open and we just shut down,” Gambert said. “We really just didn’t want to be up to bat. We missed the pitches that we couldn’t afford to miss and then we gave up.”
However, excluding the third inning Crimson rally, Manual never looked comfortable at the plate. Starter Will Saewer (#12) and Cameron did a brilliant job of mixing up their pitches and pitch speed to throw off the Manual hitters.
“They really mixed up their first pitches,” Marquardt said. “Some would throw curveballs or breaking balls first pitch and locate them for strikes. Some of our guys would get down 0-1 and have to get down and dig back.”
“We were able to get them jumping on offspeed pitches,” Cameron said. “They were really swinging out of their shoes on pitches that they weren’t going to hit. So if we could throw them off like that then we knew it was going to be easy. We realized that in the second [inning] and we just kept going with it.”
After Manual closed the gap to one in the third, Male answered in a huge way in the fifth inning.
“The first two guys, one of them got a walk and then the other got a hit, got on, and then from there it’s just like ‘Oh no, here we go again.’ Sam [Clinard] wasn’t locating the best, they put the ball in play and they made us work and got a couple of runs,” Gambert said. “The big thing that they did to break the game open is that they put the ball in play and they made us work, and then we didn’t execute. They scored a couple of runs and that really crushed our morale throughout the entire game.”
After Noah Thomson (#15) walked and Neal Hancock (#3) singled, Timbario pulled Clinard in favor of Matthew Olson, which resulted in a Slate Robinson (#17) RBI single and, later in the inning, a Hogan Brownley two RBI double and a Saewer run scoring single to stretch the Bulldog lead to five at 7-2, the eventual final score.
“We got Sam [Clinard] rattled and it led to a pitching change,” Cameron said. “With that we knew we could hit with the change of speeds. To really bust out a game like that is something that we did really well.”
“At Manual we’ve always had that one inning when we let a team get three, four, five, maybe even six runs, and we’ve just got to cut that out,” Timbario said. ”We were right there with them when we got it back to 3-2, but then they put the pressure right back on us and that’s how they were able to push the lead a little bit more.”
For Manual, the game merely came down to the fact that Male executed when they needed to, while the Crimsons could not.
“They executed. When they got runners on, they moved them over. When they moved them over, they scored. They didn’t do anything flashy; they got base hits, they bunted or stole and then they scored,” Gambert said. “We just didn’t execute. The scoreboard said that they dominated us but they really didn’t dominate us. They just did what they needed to do and we didn’t.”
Even though Manual lost to their arch rival, in reality, it was just another regular season game. The Crimsons (6-6) will now shift their focus to traveling to Disney World for their annual Spring Break tournament, before getting back to Louisville for the rest of the regular season.
“It is a rivalry game and we still have 30 more games or so,” Marquardt said. “But we’re going down to Disney World for Spring Break and we know that we need to learn how to execute in key situations. We just need to learn to do the little things, and then we’ll be right there with some of the best teams in the state.”
Timbario wants to see his team continue to improve, and compete, while down in Orlando.“I Just to go down there and compete,” Timbario said. “I want to see them make the adjustments that I told them about, and try to put pressure on the other team.”Even though Manual lost, the Crimsons are still confident that they can change the perception of Manual baseball.
“We’re changing things around here,” Gambert said. “A lot of people might look at our record and watch our team, especially with this performance since we hyped it up, and think that Manual baseball’s not doing too well, but we’re changing stuff around here. We’re changing the way we approach the game; we’re changing the way we play the game. It may be rough the first couple of years, but this stuffs changing. In a couple of years, maybe even later this year, we’re going to turn some heads. It’s just a matter of time before we start clicking.”
Manual will travel to Orlando for the “Disney Spring Training” tournament over Spring Break before returning to Louisville to face Central on Tuesday April 12 at 6 p.m.