ROACHDALE -- Unforced errors.
The difference in South Putnam's 11-1 win over North Putnam Monday night was those two words. The Eagles were crisp, while the Cougars struggled. South Putnam pitcher Grant Zimmerman had command on the mound, while countless North Putnam pitches found the dirt and the backstop.
North Putnam committed eight errors in the game as well as committing more than half a dozen wild pitches and passed balls. In this way, the Eagles were able to put up 11 runs on just three hits.
"It's been one of those things, 'One step forward two steps back.' That's what we've been doing," Cougar coach Norm Fish said.
For Eagle coach Ryan Gilman, it was the opposite. After watching his team not play a very sharp game at Danville on Friday, he was much happier with what he saw.
"I thought it went pretty well," Gilman said. "I thought we did a good job of coming out ready to play. That was one of the keys that we wanted to make sure we did, was come out ready to play, including warm-ups all the way through the game.
"I thought infield went really well starting today, and I think that carried over into the game," he added.
Zimmerman and Brayden Freeman got things started for the Eagles with consecutive one-out singles in the first inning. After them, though, the four-run first sprung from walks, errors and passed balls. Three of the Eagles' first four runs came on either wild pitches or passed balls.
In the bottom half of the inning, Tyler Watson, collecting one of his two hits on the night, drove in Kyler Badten for the Cougars' only run of the night.
The Eagles would add one in the second, four in the fourth (chasing starter Mychael Buchanan from the game) and two in the fifth to 10-run the Cougars.
Cameron Chestnut, Zimmerman and Freeman all picked up hits for the Eagles. Freeman and Zimmerman each drove in a pair of runs, with John Spencer and Aaron Parker each driving in one.
For the Cougars, Watson got the only two hits and the only RBI off of Zimmerman. The junior pitcher faced just two batters over the minimum, allowing one run on two hits and striking out eight Cougars.
Fish said he knows his young team is going to make mistakes. It was how they reacted to those mistakes that disappointed him.
"We're going to make errors; we're a young team. But how we handle ourselves after we make the errors is what I'm concerned about. We took a step back tonight," he said.
The Eagles hosted the Cougars on Tuesday, but no results were available at press time.
At North Putnam
S. Putnam 410 42 -- 11 3 1
N. Putnam 100 00 -- 1 2 8
Buchanan, Kimmel (3), Haste (3) and Day; Zimmerman and Freeman.
WP -- Zimmerman
LP -- Buchanan
Next game: North Putnam will host Tri-West at 4:30 p.m. Friday. South Putnam will host Riverton Parke at 5 p.m. Friday.