Tigers fall hard in first district game of the season
Donaldsonville played their first district game in three years on Tuesday evening, but it wasn’t the kind of return to league play they were hoping to see.
The Tigers only trailed 3-0 heading into the fifth inning, but there, a flurry of walks allowed St. James to score six runs and take a 9-0 lead. From there, they rolled to a 15-2 victory.
"Walks obviously hurt,” Donaldsonville head coach Garrett Maum said. “Prior to taking Tim (Campbell) out, we didn't really throw the ball around that much. We didn't really have any errors, but they came with the walks. When the walks build up, when guys get on base and when they put a ball in play, they're gonna score. And when they go up big and you start seeing that number on the board, it's hard to stay motivated and stay in the game."
Before the fifth inning, pitcher Tim Campbell had been cruising along, only allowing three hits.
But St. James began the inning with a double, and the runner eventually scored on a passed ball. That’s when the bottom fell out for the Tigers.
The Wildcats collected three hits and five walks in the inning. Donaldsonville also committed an error in what became a five-run barrage that put the game out of reach.
St. James had nine hits for the game, but it was the free passes that hurt the Tigers the most. Donaldsonville pitching walked 12 St. James batters and hit four others.
Meanwhile, the Tigers again struggled at the plate, producing just five total hits.
Tre’von Mitchell was the only Donaldsonville players with multiple hits as he went 2-3. Trevon Dunn had their lone RBI as he went 1-4.
Lack of hitting is what Coach Maum said has been the biggest difference between this year’s team and the one that went 12-2 last season.
"The score might not reflect it, but I think we're better defensively. We're getting better output from Tim on the mound, and we've got some guys that can play routine baseballs,” Maum said. “Defensively, I think we're fine, but offensively, we averaged 13-15 runs per game last year. Today, we barely scratched two, so the sticks are not nearly as consistent as we would like them to be. That's something we knew coming into the season, but we're still trying to find a way to score some runs."
It’s been quite the changeup for Donaldsonville.
The Tigers had a terrific 2017 that saw them complete the program’s first winning season in at least 17 years.
Donaldsonville had only won one game the season before. Their 12 victories in 2017 dwarfed their nine total wins from 2010-2016.
With so much success, the Tigers took the next step this season and introduced a full schedule that contained 26 games. This included their first district tilt in three years.
The Tigers have faced much stiffer competition this season, and as a result, they’ve seen some struggles. Their loss to St. James was their fourth straight and dropped their overall record to just 2-7.
One big obstacle the Tigers have had to endure this season has been their lack of depth on the mound.
They have their two best starting pitchers from last year in Mitchell and Campbell—who each went 5-1 last year. However, there are no pitchers behind them that have any significant experience.
Though things haven’t gone well so far this season, Coach Maum just wants his young team to stay positive and continue to learn.
"Knowing that you have a lot of games left, knowing that every other day we have an opportunity to compete and knowing that we still have a lot riding on it for us, it should help us moving forward,” Maum said. “We have a very competitive district, and even though we might not win every game, that doesn't mean we aren't receiving any benefits from those games.
“So, we just want to come in, continue to play, continue to do what is asked, and eventually, we're going to come across teams that we're equal to or better than, and we should capitalize when those opportunities come."