By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
In a prior preseason tournament game between Analy and Piner, the Tigers won a crisply played pitchers’ duel 1-0. Friday’s rematch, however, was a different story between the two middle-of-the-pack teams.
The visiting Tigers (9-8, 2-3) won a 10-5 slugfest in a game where both starting pitchers did not have their good stuff and the defenses — especially Piner’s — gave away free runs.
Piner (8-8, 2-3) spotted Analy a 2-0 lead in the first inning with two unearned runs thanks to two infield errors.
In the second inning, Analy scored seven more runs with a combination of two more defensive errors sandwiched between four singles, two walks, a double and a passed ball that plated two runners.
The ball hit the first baserunner at the plate on the throw from the catcher and bounded away, allowing the runner from second to score. Six of the runs were earned and charged to Piner starter Tony Martignoli, who took the loss.
“I was happy that when Piner gave us the errors we followed them up with hits,” Analy coach Jeff Ogston said.
“We came out flat and we gave the game away,” Piner coach Nick Green said. “Analy hit the ball well, too. When we made errors they made us pay.”
Staked to a 9-0 lead, Analy starter Zach Donovan gave back three runs in the bottom of the second after leading off the inning with two walks.
“Zach’s bugaboo all year has been walks,” Ogston said. “He pitched okay but he couldn’t find his change-up or breaking ball so he was basically just locating his fastballs.”
The third through fifth innings were scoreless. Piner rallied for two runs in the sixth and could have had more if not for a great running catch by Analy left-fielder Carter Merlaud. After Piner’s Robert Santos hit a booming two-run double to the center field wall that made it 9-5 in favor of Analy, the Prospectors eventually had runners on first and second and no outs.
Piner’s Daniel Latourell then hit a towering drive to the warning track in left that Merlaud caught over his shoulder running full speed. Piner pinch-hitter Ron Day then scorched a line drive to Analy third baseman Jeff Newman, who converted it into a double play to put out the Prospectors’ fire. Analy added a run in the seventh for a 10-5 final.
“That was a great catch,” Green said. “That is a whole different game if the left-fielder doesn’t get that one.”
“It’s hard to come back from nine runs down,” Ogston said. “But any time you are up nine runs, if the other team is going to get back in the game, you have to make them earn it.”
Donovan went five-plus innings, gave up four runs (two earned), one hit, three walks and had four strikeouts.
Martignoli also went five-plus innings, gave up nine runs (six earned), eight hits, two walks and had two strikeouts.
“Tony wasn’t real sharp today and his pitch count was up,” Green said. “Analy just outplayed us; they wanted it more.”