South Putnam cruised to a 10-2 win over the host Clovers after putting together two strong innings, behind a nice performance by pitcher Grant Zimmerman.
South Putnam head coach Ryan Gilman was pleased with what he saw in his team's season opener.
"It was nice to get off to a good start. I saw a lot of positive things, especially defensively. Thought the first night we play, we came out a little slow, the (Jeff) Dale kid kept us off balance pretty well with off-speed pitches and moving locations on that. We had quite a few strikeout and we wanted to get that down tonight, which we did," Gilman said.
The Eagles entered Wednesday's contest carrying a three-run lead, but a strong fifth inning gave them the all the cushion they would need.
South Putnam scored five runs in the fifth inning, with Cameron Chestnut recording two RBIs, while Nathan Welty and Rob Gibson had an RBI each. The Eagles tacked on a run in the six and seventh innings to account for the 10-run total.
The Clovers were able to record two runs in the fourth inning when Jordan Brinkman smashed a double to the right field fence, bringing home the two runs. But that would be all the offense the Clovers could muster.
Cloverdale head coach Bryan Archer pointed out following the game that his squad gave up eight walks, two hit batters and recorded two errors; something the coach wasn't too pleased with. He was, however, happy with the effort for starting pitcher Jeff Dale and his freshman replacement.
"Tonight he came out strong in that first inning and then he had a little arm trouble, so we brought in a freshman Justin Wilson, which he was throwing good pitches," Archer said. "Probably nervous as a freshman in a conference game, but I wanted to see what he was made of. I just wanted to see what kind of guts he had. He did fine, we made an error or two behind him, while he was pitching, but he was throwing good pitches. The accuracy wasn't there completely."
Archer was also quick to acknowledge if his team is able to eliminate their mental mistakes, good things should begin to happen.
"But like I told the guys after the game, 'If we eliminate our mistakes, we're right in this game and who knows what happens at the plate,'" he said. "Although their pitcher Zimmerman was throwing some good pitches, I told our guys that he was going to throw good pitches, he's not going to be wild and he's going to put it in the zone, so we have to be up there and be aggressive. For the most part, we were. What happened was we get our first guy or two out and then we'd get one, two or three guys on base and then we'd just strikeout or groundout.
"Like I told coach Kyle in the fifth or sixth inning, we were one hit away from just opening up and having a big inning, which that was the way the whole game tonight. Grant threw well though. He had some good pitches and I told the guys, he's going to be a good pitcher, he has some good stuff, we just have to get up there and battle with him. He did a great job," Archer added.
In their first outing of the season, Gilman was pleased with the little things he saw from his team. And as he stated before the season began, those will be building blocks for the future.
"It looked pretty good -- there's always adjustments we have," he said. "Defensively, I thought we played pretty well. We had a few mental lapses in the field. Hitting the same things, trying to see pitches. Curve balls we didn't do a very good job, we just haven't seen curveballs and off-speed pitches and all that kind of stuff. We have seen a live arm on someone who's really trying to get us out.
"Other than that, it kind of what I wanted to see. We saw the little things that we were looking for and we just have to build on that for tomorrow and the rest of the season," Gilman said.
Archer noted that his team needs to do a better job at the plate and defensively. He was also unhappy that his team didn't put forth a complete effort.
"We just didn't put a whole game together at all tonight. Our pitching has to be better and we have to eliminate our errors," Archer said. "That is killing us."
Cloverdale will travel to South Putnam tonight for a 4:30 start.
S. Putnam 003 051 1 -- 10 X X
Cloverdale 000 200 0 -- 2 XX
WP -- Zimmerman
LP -- Dale
Next game -- Cloverdale will travel to South Putnam tonight for a 4:30 start.