by Eric Oslund
Confidence in sports can be a funny thing. The smallest of plays can often change the behavior of a team, and sometimes even change the course of a game.
That seemed to be the case for the Zimmerman baseball team on Tuesday, May 16, when they hosted Little Falls.
Little Falls was able to score three runs in the top of the first inning, which was not the way the Thunder hoped to start, but they had a chance to answer early. The had the bases loaded in the bottom of that opening inning, but they ended up stranding all the runners.
“I was telling the coach the stats, left on base is over 100 already this year,” head coach Chris Riley said. “We’ve had our chances, but I don’t know if they tense up. We’ve never been a good, with guys in scoring position where you just rally and keep pumping them in like some of the other teams do.”
Things would go even more south by the time the third inning rolled around as Zimmerman’s catcher tried to pick off a Little Falls runner at third, but instead of rifle it down the baseline he appeared to try and float it in to the third baseman, which resulted in the ball going into left field and a runner scoring.
Then the catcher pulled his foot off home plate on a force out, allowing another run to score. The pitcher followed that up by walking a batter with the bases loaded. A little pop, which seemed routine, landed between the second baseman and right fielder to score more, and before you know it the Thunder were trailing 11-1 in the third inning.
Every little thing that went wrong just seemed to effect the players more and more, which resulted in more and more things going wrong.
“I think they’re just playing on their heels more versus trying to be aggressive and throw the ball around – snap the ball down to third or first,” Riley said after the game.
The trick now for the Thunder is to get over the five-inning, 12-1 loss they suffered against Little Falls, and get their confidence back before the section tournament. Riley said they have some very winnable games coming up, which should help them out, and then a week off to rest up before playoff time arrives.
“Going into playoffs,” the head coach began, “we get the right pitching combination with the defense in the first game or two, we should hopefully be alright and competitive.”