ST. LOUIS — It's the time of year when rain plays a part in when and where teams are able to beat the weather and play their games.
For Three Rivers, the weather has affected their schedule in three out of the last four series. Most recently, the Raiders' doubleheader against Jefferson College was moved to Maryville University due to the forecast. First it was losing a pair of home games against St. Louis Community College. Then, a series against Mineral Area was moved back a few days. And now this.
The result has been a 4-8 record over that span as the Raiders lost the first two of a four-game series against Jefferson, falling 4-0 and 9-5 in Thursday's doubleheader after dealing with a two-hour rain delay.
On both ends of Thursday's doubleheader, the Raiders' started slower than they finished. The defense didn't allow a run after the third inning of game one, and in game two they held Jefferson scoreless after the fifth inning.
"I think the guys competed really well. Tip your cap to Jefferson. They threw two of the best arms we've probably seen all year," Three Rivers assistant coach Tyler Smith said. "Both guys are probably going to be in the draft at some point, and both are going to high-level Division I schools. I felt like they threw well. We had challenge for us after a big weekend series against MAC that got moved, so we were a little bit short on pitching."
Head coach Stacey Burkey won't be with the team for a few days after a death in his family.
The problem was the starts. Three runs in the third inning put the Vikings in control. Even after the Raiders settled in on defense, the offense couldn't generate any sustainable momentum.
In five of the first six innings of game one, only three batters made plate appearances. Nick Fakouri and Palmer Campbell helped tease a two-out rally in the seventh as Fakouri reached third after a single, and Campbell followed with a double. A strikeout on the next at-bat halted the comeback hopes and ended the game.
The two hits in the seventh were the Raiders' only two in the game. The Raiders had no easy task going up against pitchers Riley Boyd and Jason Rackers. Rackers threw the two-hitter as the Raiders couldn't get bats on throws from the 6-foot-7-inch, 245-pounder.
Beau Burson got the start and was charged with a loss on the mound for Three Rivers. He pitched three innings and allowed four hits, three earned runs and three walks, striking out three.
A.J. Calhoon went the final three innings. He walked two and gave up as many hits, allowing no runs on 12 batters faced.
After 12 scoreless innings to start the day, the offense picked it up midway through game two. John Rodriguez hit an RBI single to put a run on the board in the sixth inning, breaking the cold spell. Three Rivers scored three more in the ninth, but a seven-run deficit was too much to overcome.
"I felt like our guys really stepped up to the challenge and competed well. Obviously, it's never good to lose, but the way we competed, a few mistakes here and there, but I'm pretty pleased with how we went about our business today," Smith said.
The offense coming alive may give the Raiders the momentum they need to even the series on Saturday. The two teams will meet at Three Rivers for another doubleheader, starting at 1 p.m.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic