In its three previous contests, all of them wins, Madison County had not struggled on offense. But Tuesday, until the bottom of the fifth, the Mountaineers had not registered a hit, and it’s only scoring opportunity — a hit batter, a walk and a sacrifice bunt that moved both runners into scoring position — came away unfruitful.
Conversely, when Page County put the ball into play, Madison’s defense had its lapses. The Panthers were able to make hay behind six errors, putting up six runs to hand the Mountaineers their first loss of the season, 6-0.
“This was (our) first game of the year and all-in-all, I thought we answered some questions tonight,” said Page coach Jimmy Burke. “I thought we swung the bats well and I thought we played some good defense being this early in the year.”
Page notched the first two runs of the game after a double from Ty Comer and a single from Tyler Jenkins brought both runners home on an RBI fielder’s choice from Tyler Turner and an RBI single from Kol Shuler. In the very next inning, two more runs were tacked on the board as the Panthers’ Timmy Cave reached base on a single and was brought in on an another sacrifice fly, this time from Comer. After an error, Jenkins made Madison pay with an RBI single.
To make it a 5-0 contest in the top of the fifth, Ryan Baker reached base on a fielder’s choice, advanced on a stolen base and then a wild pitch, and was finally brought home by a single from Kenny Deavers.
In the bottom half of the fifth, Travis Warren picked up Madison’s first hit of the game and gave the home teams its first runner in scoring position by getting as far as third base for the second time in the game, but a pop fly with two outs ended the inning.
For good measure, Page scored its sixth and final run starting with another Baker single. The senior advance on the bases after a ground ball out and then an error, and came home on a Comer RBI single.
Dustin Farmer led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and put runners on first and second after a walk, but Panthers pitcher Patrick Cubbage wrapped up the game with three straight pop-fly outs.
“(Cubbage) threw well enough that he kept us off balance, and in baseball, if you can disrupt timing, you’re going to be succesfull and he was,” said Madison coach Tom Butterworth. “We never looked comfortable at the plate, and we definitely weren’t comfortable in the field.”
The Mountaineers (3-1), playing their fourth game in 16-game stretch where they play in eight contests, hit the road against Luray on Thursday.