Eastern walks past Manual


Photo by Luke Smith.

Jack Grossman

With the bases loaded and two outs, Manual starting pitcher Graham Christian (12, #7) was looking to get out of a self inflicted jam. However, Christian’s 3-1 pitch sailed high for ball four, and the Eagles had just taken the lead by walking in a run. After Christian also walked the next batter, it was his fifth walk of the first inning, Eastern had a 2-0 lead without putting a ball in play.

“He (Christian) just has to get mentally prepared,” Manual Head Coach Matt Timbario said. “I don’t know if he just wasn’t ready to pitch in the first inning, but Graham’s one of our guys and we’re going to stick with him. He’s going to get some more opportunities so he’s gotta learn from this.”

“I just get really excited, get kind of anxious, and I just want to throw it as hard as a possibly can,” Christian said. After the first inning, my arm kind of loosened up and I started to locate a little bit better.”

Christian did calm down after the first inning to pitch scoreless innings in the second and third frames. In the top of the fourth inning, the Crimson bats came alive as Manual got on the board when Sam Clinard (12, #22) hit a RBI double to score Chris Gambert (12, #25). Clinard would score on a fielding error later in the inning to tie the game at two.

However, Manual’s momentum didn’t last long as Eastern answered by scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to regain its two run advantage. The Eagles were again able to force Christian into working the count, as they drew three more walks in the fourth inning.

“We had the momentum there, and usually after we score some runs we want to go back out there and work for a zero to stop their guys but we just didn’t have it tonight,” Timbario said.

Manual had its best chance to get back into the game in the top of the fifth inning, as the Crimsons had runners on first and second with no outs after Riley Noe (11, #4) and Quintin Bynum (11, #13) each singled to start the inning; however, after Kam Davis (12, #21) popped out on a bunt attempt and Matthew Olson (12, #2) grounded out, Eastern pitcher Luke Fisher (10, #37) wisely decided to intentionally walk Gambert, who had already smashed a pair of doubles in his two previous plate appearances,  to load the bases for Clinard with two outs. Clinard could not take advantage as he struck out swinging on a curveball.

“We were in the middle of our order, and with the bases loaded we gotta execute that. Obviously my pitching could have been better but that would have definitely helped.”

After the fifth inning, Manual never threatened again, and the Crimsons fell to the Eagles 4-2.

“We only had one out of the three things that I ask our kids to bring each night: pitching, hitting and defense,” Timbario said. “We weren’t good enough tonight.”

Christian pitched five innings for Manual and gave up four runs, on three hits and eight walks. Bynum pitched two perfect innings in relief for the Crimsons. Fisher pitched a strong game for Eastern as he went the distance, only giving up two runs and five hits in his seven innings of work.

At the plate, Gambert had two of Manual’s five hits. Clinard, Noe and Bynum were the only other Crimsons to record a hit, as they all had one apiece.

Manual (13-11) has about two weeks before the start of the postseason, and the Crimsons will play nine more games in that time. Even though Manual lost to Eastern, Timbario is confident his team will be ready when the postseason rolls around in late May.

“I think the kids know what their roles are and in,” Timbario said. “Now it’s just about being consistent by coming out and playing every night and taking care of business.”

Manual will not have anytime to mourn over their loss to Eastern, as they will take the field on Thursday when they host Bullitt East at 6:30. After that the Crimsons will host KCD on Monday at 6:30. Both games will be played at Derby City Field.