DELANO – Earlier on in the season, the defense for the Delano baseball team has been just fine. In their matchup with Mound Westonka Thursday afternoon, a pair of errors was just too much to overcome in a 4-3 loss to the White Hawks at Delano Municipal Baseball Park.
“Generally our defense has been pretty good,” Tigers coach Jeff Olson said. “It wasn’t perfect tonight, but it’s been pretty good. It’s all about getting better every single game and every practice. Mistakes are going to happen. It’s just trying to limit them and clean those up.”
It was a game the Tigers felt like they should have won. They outhit the White Hawks 7-5 but a slow start at the plate made things harder for Delano in the loss. In the first two innings, the Tigers left five runners on base including leaving them loaded in the bottom of the first.
“The main message was I just think we weren’t quite ready to go today at the plate,” Olson said. “We just didn’t come out and get after it the way we’re capable of. We just need to be ready from the first pitch. Every pitch could be the difference in the game whether it’s the first or the last. We’ve got to get ourselves in a little bit better frame of mind at the plate at the start of the game.”
After falling behind 2-0, the Tigers cut into the deficit in the bottom of the fifth. Back-to-back two-out doubles from Robbie Knights and Oran Hinkle brought Delano within one, but their second and final error of the game in the top of the seventh forced them to rally again.
After Delano left the tying run on third to end the bottom of the sixth, Mound Westonka added some insurance runs in the top half of the seventh. With the bases loaded and two out, the White Hawks got the clutch hit they needed as a single socred a pair to push their lead to 4-1.
Down by three in their final at-bat, Delano fought back once again. A leadoff double from David Dorsey had the Tigers in the business. After moving up to third on a passed ball, Dorsey came around to score on a sacrifice fly from Knight to bring Delano within two.
A walk by Hinkle followed by another sacrifice fly from Gunnar Paulson brought the Tigers within one, but the rally ended there as they left the tying run at third to end the game.
“That’s one of the bigger positives,” Olson said. “The guys showed a lot of fight. They gave it their all down by three. That shows a lot that they were able to keep fighting till the end no matter what.”
Delano falls to 1-2 on the season despite a strong performance from AJ Rasmussen on the mound. He went six innings, allowing just one earned run off two hits while striking out nine.
“He was outstanding,” Olson said. “He threw a great game. He did everything we needed to get a win but we just didn’t have enough offensive support for him. We’ll take outings like that from him every single time.”
Delano is back in action Friday when they host New Prague.
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Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports