By Corey J. Corbin
Allied News Sports Correspondent
MERCER COUNTY AREA —
STONEBORO — Mercer head coach Jack Thorn wasn’t happy with his offense Friday afternoon.
Neither was his counterpart that afternoon — Lakeview’s Bill Beith.
At the end of the day, though, Beith’s Sailors (3-4) found a way to upend Thorn’s Mustangs (1-8) 4-2 in a District 10 interclassification showdown at Lakeview High School.
“It’s a win, but we could’ve played a whole lot better,” Beith said after the win. “There are times when we show up that we beat very good teams. Last week, we beat Cochranton, who is one of the best if not the best Single A team in District 10 right now, then we lay eggs against other teams. We just have to get that consistency.”
Despite collecting 9 hits against Mercer pitching, the Sailors managed to strike out 12 times — half of them on called third strikes.
“I hate to be negative about a win, but we struck out way too much, which has been our problem all year,” Beith said. “I think we struck out 12 times. I told the guys that we might as well start the game in the fifth inning if we’re going to be doing that. We average about 10 to 12 strike outs a game as it is. You have to be able to put the ball in play and make other teams make mistakes especially at this level.
“Right now, I’m at a loss for words with (the hitting). We looked at six called third strikes today. You can’t do anything about that. We, as coaches, can’t go up and swing the bat for them. You can practice everything you want, but if you don’t swing the bat, you can’t do anything about it. It’s frustrating from a coaching standpoint. You want them to be more aggressive and you’d hope at this level the kids would be anxious to hit. At times, these kids look like they’re scared to death to get up there.”
Meanwhile, the Mustangs had problems getting a clutch hit.
Mercer had at least one hit in all seven innings, but didn’t string those hits together.
“This was typical of our season,” Thorn said. “We’re very senior limited. Most of the freshmen and sophomores are playing in these games. We look for hits when we get people on and we’re not getting (hits) when we need them.
“We just don’t come up with that big hit. We have the right people in the right spot, but we’re just not getting the hit. If we get one more hit, a lot of these games are going to change, but until we get that hit, we’re going to struggle. Hitting solves all problems.”
After Logan Clarke scored in the first to hand Mercer an early 1-0 lead, Lakeview charged back behind Shane Whitehouse’s first career home run and Tyler Patterson’s two-run single for a two-run cushion.
Then after Cody Blose pulled the Mustangs to within 3-2 with a homer to right center in the fourth, the Sailors regained its two-run cushion when a Mercer error on a Patterson slow roller scored Austin Slater in the fifth.
“We had a couple big hits,” Beith said. “Shane Whitehouse had his first career home run as a senior and that got us going. We got a couple big hits from Tyler Patterson.”
Slater and Zach Bigley shared mound duties for Lakeview, allowing 7 hits, striking out 6 and walking 4.
“It’s nice to win a game,” Beith said. “We didn’t play our best, but we got good pitching, which we’ve had all year. The pitching beared down at times.
“We made plays when we had to and probably the biggest play of the game was when they got a guy on — I can’t remember if it was a base hit or an error — but our catcher was backing up on the play and was able to throw him out at second. That was the turning point of the game. When they got guys into scoring position, we were able to shut them down. That shows some character.”
Landon Glass, Nate Guiler and Danny Miller each took turns on the mound for Mercer, while Brayton Edwards and Jonathan Scheidhauer each doubled.
“Our pitching hasn’t been a problem all year,” Thorn said. “All our pitchers are getting bad results, but they’re doing what they have to do. Our offense has to come around. Landon pitches very well.
“The Lakeview-Mercer game is always a good game. I know they enjoyed winning it. A lot of those kids play with us over the summer. It’s a very interesting game intensity wise, because the kids all know each other.”
Notes: Whitehouse singled and homered to lead Lakeview, while Patterson had a pair of singles. … Elder ripped a double for the Sailors.