Hardballers felled by tough Eagle ace

"It'd been awhile since the Bainbridge High School baseball team had seen a pitcher like Klahowya's Jeff Berend.In fact, it had been awhile since the Spartans had seen any opposing pitcher at all.Coming off an 11-day layoff, the Sparts had trouble dealing with Berend, the senior ace of the Eagles' staff, and lost the opener of an Olympic League doubleheader 4-1 last Friday at Klahowya. They came back to win the nightcap 7-1 behind the strong starting pitching of Matt Luria and an errorless performance by the defense.We had a layoff, shrugged Bainbridge coach Mike Reese, whose defending league champions lost for only the second time this season against seven victories. When you come up against a quality pitcher like Berend, that's going to make a difference.He threw a very solid game, Reese added. He mixes his speeds up real well and uses both sides of the plate.The result was a lot of indecision by Bainbridge's batters, 10 of whom struck out. Berend had just two walks in the complete-game victory.Jeff pitched a great game, said first-year Klahowya coach Russ Shiplet. The farther he gets into a game, the stronger he gets. He's a guy that wants to go the distance, and I let him.The Sparts started the day looking like they wanted to make Berend work. Leadoff hitter Chris Shaffer battled him for 11 pitches before reaching on an error. Overall, Berend threw 22 pitches to get out of the first. He gave up two of the six hits against him in the second.But the Spartans couldn't get anything for their hard work in the early innings. Shaffer was doubled off second before Berend struck out Thomas Henshaw to end the first. Mateo Romero led off the second with a single, but was picked off by Klahowya catcher Zach Seals.The breaks didn't go our way in that game, Reese said. We wanted to use sacrifice bunts, hit-and-run, things like that to get runners into scoring position (against Berend), but we lost a couple opportunities on baserunning errors.Bainbridge scored its only run in the seventh on singles by Carl French and Cole Childers and a throwing error that allowed French to saunter home from third. The Spartans actually brought the tying run to the plate with two out, but Berend whiffed Mike Dressler - a pinch-hitter who inherited an 0-1 count - to end the game.Without the baserunning miscues that slowed them down in the opener, the Spartans were able to run themselves out to a 5-1 lead after three innings, making a winner of Luria, who got late-inning relief from both Pat Crowthers and Dressler.We started off with good, smart, aggressive play on the basepaths by Shaffer and Henshaw, and we got a good start by Luria, Reese said. He came out and threw strikes, and the offense made things happen. Henshaw, Shaffer and French doubled for Bainbridge, while Dressler had two RBIs."

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