Three Rivers bounced back from a disastrous start to the first game of its doubleheader against St. Charles on Thursday.
After dropping the first game 13-2 in five innings on a cold, rainy day at Roger Pattillo Field, the Raiders kept up with St. Charles in the second game until it was suspended at the end of the seventh inning. When the game is picked up at St. Charles, Three Rivers will trail 10-9.
Three Rivers faced a manageable deficit in the fifth inning of the first game. Then, the St. Charles offense exploded with seven runs.
The inning started with five straight runs scored before the Raiders got their first out of the side. A two-run homer from Manny Garcia capped off the inning, leaving Three Rivers staring at an 11-run deficit heading into the bottom of the fifth.
Winston Welter got on base with one out after he was hit by a pitch, but John Rodriguez grounded into a double play to end the inning. Garcia made a nice play at shortstop, diving to stop the ball from reaching the gap and flipping it to second base just in time.
Three Rivers was limited to three hits in the first game. Palmer Campbell's two-run home run in the fourth accounted for the Raiders' only runs.
"Give credit to St. Charles. They came out aggressive at the plate, swung the bat well and barrelled a lot of balls," Three Rivers coach Stacey Burkey said. "We had a couple of innings there where we gave them more than three outs, and they capitalized on it, you know. We just need to play better.
"They played well in these conditions. It's kind of survival baseball. It's really tough to keep the body temperature up and the hands to where you can feel the ball and the bat."
The second game, though, saw some improvements. After it initially appeared that the Cougars were still in the zone, scoring three runs in the top of the first. The Raiders bounced back with two of their own in the bottom half of the inning, Roberto Mejia roped a leadoff double on a 1-0 pitch. He scored the team's first run of the game when Reece Reading sent him home for an RBI. Nick Fakouri capped the scoring with a solo home run to left-center. Fakouri went 2 for 2 and scored two runs in game two.
The Cougars added a run in the second before Three Rivers came back to tie it up. Three Rivers was held scoreless for the next three innings, and the Cougars added another run to regain the lead in the fourth. Eric Rothermich reached second base after an error on a throw from third to first. Rothermich scored and Garcia got on base after a dropped third strike went all the way through to the backstop.
"The second game, a lot of ups and downs to it," Burkey said. "I think we showed some flashes of really battling well, but I think we could've had their starting pitcher out of the game a little bit earlier. He was able to get a couple of innings where they were six, seven-pitch innings that kind of prolonged his life out there."
The Raiders regrouped and earned a 1-2-3 fifth inning thanks to a trio of grounders.
The Cougars then matched their first-inning production with a three-run side in the top of the sixth after Three Rivers made a pitching change.
River Hunt pitched five innings, striking out four and allowing six hits and five runs, three earned.
Two straight batters were hit by pitch to start the sixth. Garcia again found himself involved when he earned an RBI with a sacrifice fly to score Kyle Pendergrast. A pair of singles scored the next two runs, putting St. Charles back in control.
After two strikeouts to start the bottom of the sixth, Three Rivers found itself in a two-out hole. Rodriguez then drew a walk, and Reading followed up with a two-run homer. The ball looked like it hit the top of the wall and bounced back in, but the umpires determined it hit the scoreboard after it bounced, and deemed it a homer. The homer was part of Reading's four RBIs on the back end of the doubleheader.
"I went up there, and I knew the scouting report was that he threw a lot of strikes, but he gave up a lot of hits," Reading said. "So I was going up there looking for a fastball. He threw the first one for the ball, so I knew I was going to get a pretty good second pitch. I was just trying to backspin one into the gap and it kind of went from there, connected pretty good."
Campbell drove in Fakouri a couple of plays later when he hit a slow roller that two infielders missed. Campbell went 2 of 4 in the second game.
"We had some bright spots. Palmer Campbell swinging a hot bat and Reece hit one over by the scoreboard, a home run," Burkey said.
Both sides added a pair in the seventh inning before the game was suspended. The decision came due to it getting too dark to continue since Roger Pattillo Field doesn't have lights.
The two sides will pick up the game in the top of the eighth, possibly over the weekend when Three Rivers travels to St. Charles for another doubleheader.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic