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FORT WAYNE — Saturday’s baseball game between the Columbia City Eagles and the Concordia Cadets was definitely not the season home-opener that new Columbia City head coach Zac Bireley had hoped for.
First of all, wet conditions on the Columbia City field forced a move to Concordia’s field at Zollner Field. Second, seven Columbia City errors led to a 9-2 loss to the Cadets.
“When we played good, it looked good, but we gave them a lot of runs,” Bireley said. “We bailed them out when they were on offense ... Their first 3 or 4 runs of the game all came after we made errors that extended the inning and they capitalized on it.”
The Cadets took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. After a lead-off single by the Cadets’ designated hitter Jake Hayden, who advanced to third on an Eagle error and a stolen base, a double down the left field line scored Hayden giving the Cadets the lead.
Columbia City senior pitcher Connor Slavich recorded his second and third strikeouts of the inning to retire the Cadets.
In the Eagle half of the first, lead-off hitter Blake Creech, who led the Eagles at the plate going 3-for-4 and scoring one of the Eagles’ two runs, led off with a single, but was picked off at first to eliminate the only Columbia City base runner for the first two innings.
The Cadets added a second run in the next inning aided by a Columbia City throwing error and a double.
The Eagles averted more damage as the Cadets loaded the bases. An unassisted put-out by first baseman Austin McCormick ended the Cadet scoring in the second inning.
Aided by three Columbia City errors the Cadets pushed across two more runs in the top of the third inning to take a 4-0 lead.
In the bottom of the inning the Eagles loaded the bases, with Creech and shortstop Brandon Gay both collecting singles but a force out at third ended the Eagle threat without a run.
The Eagles got a run back in the fourth with a two-out walk by McCormick and a single by Austin Clark to cut the Concordia lead to 4-1.
A lead-off triple by Creech in the fifth and a Concordia error on a hit by Slavich cut the Cadet lead to 4-2. Slavich was thrown out trying to steal third to end the inning.
“We had some base running mistakes that really hurt us,” Bireley said. “We had some missed signs and some missed executions of things and those things came back to hurt us.”
The Cadets pushed across two runs in the sixth, chasing Slavich from the mound.
The Cadets scored three times in the seventh off reliever Jordan Bickle to account for the final 9-2 margin.
“They took advantage of the mistakes that we made,” Bireley said. “If you give a team 4 or 5 free outs a game and they take advantage of it, it turns out to be a 9-2 ball game.”
The Cadets completed the sweep taking the JV contest by an 8-0 score. The Eagles return to action Tuesday when they host Fort Wayne North Side.