By Doug Brenneman, JOURNAL Sports
Twenty-five hits combined in two games should equal two wins, especially when the other team has 14 total hits in the two games. But the other team got their hits at the right time, especially in the second game.
That other team was Fairfield. Washington split the two Southeast Conference games Monday at Dick Sojka Memorial Field as the Demons won the opener 6-3 and lost a slugfest in the nightcap 11-9.
?In the first game, we had a couple good swings on the ball but they were line drives right at their outfielders,? Fairfield coach Josh Allison said. ?We just couldn?t get them to drop and that seemed to carry over. I think we lost a little bit of confidence in the batter?s box. I think we eventually realized we were putting the swings on it. We had to think about the process instead of the result. It was a battle tonight. Every time we play against Washington, we expect a good game.?
In the opener, Washington scored in every inning it batted except one. Highlights were a Luke Turner run-scoring triple in the first inning and consecutive RBI-singles from Landon Hinckley and Erik Murphy in the third. It led 4-0 when Fairfield scored three runs in the top of the fourth inning.
?Jacob Hall gave us a great outing,? Washington coach Nathan Miller said. ?He was at 42 pitches after the first two innings. I thought it was going to be a short night for him. Then he had a four-pitch inning and got his groove back. Chase McDole came in and did a really nice job for us.?
Hall?s sacrifice fly scored a run in the fourth inning. Hall scored in the second inning when he was walked, advanced on a fielder?s choice, stole third and scored on a fielder?s choice. Wilx Witthoft clobbered a home run in the sixth inning for the Demons.
Brant Stout was 2 for 5 while Washington teammate Brady Knutson was 3 for 4 and Turner was 2 for 4.
The demons got behind 4-1 in the second game but scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-4 lead. The teams kept scoring as fairfield used four pitchers in the game and Washington used five. It was 6-6 after the fifth inning and 8-8 after the sixth.
?One of the things that we have and try to utilize every game is our team speed,? Miller said. ?There?s free bases, freebie runners which is runners that get on for free and then there?s extra bases - stolen bases, balls in the dirt, wild pitches. We want to be double of what the other team is. I thought we did a great job of that in the first game. The difference in the second game was when it was 8-8, six of their eight runs were from us putting them on by a walk or an error or hit by pitch.?
The worst of that was it came with no outs.
?Fairfield is probably the most well-balanced offense that we will face all year,? Miller said.
In two innings, the first batter singled, then scored on a home run.
In two other of the innings, it was the first two batters that got on for free.
?To me that was the big difference in the game,? Miller said. ?We got some freebies also from them. We try to focus on what we can control and not with the other team does, so that was one thing we talked a lot about after the game. We want our pitching staff to throw strike one. We had 13 hits in the second game. It went down to the very last out.?
Washington still was able to get the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning but a double play ended the game.
?We had a shot until that double play,? Miller said. ?We had several chances.?
Cade Hennigan went 3 for 5 while Demon teammates Hinckley, Brandon Dickel and Turner all had two hits apiece.
?We have a next-pitch mentality,? Miller said. ?We actually have a slogan that is basically, ?who cares.? If it?s a great play, move on. If it?s a bad play, move on. Who cares because it?s already over. We need to focus on the next situation.?
Fairfield is 17-5 overall and 8-2 in the conference. Washington is 11-6 and 7-3 in the league.
?I feel like we have a ceiling that we are not touching,? Miller said. ?It is a long way away. We have some young guys and we are building and we?re going to keep building. Our team speed is great for offense and it?s great to have on defense and I think we have a very strong defense. Our outfield can certainly track some balls.?
Washington plays at Williamsburg Wednesday and at Louisa-Muscatine Friday.