Albion Recorder & Morning Star Sports

Concord splits with conference-leading Maple Valley

By Bill Mullaly

The Concord Yellowjacket varsity baseball team split with conference-leading Vermontville Maple Valley on Tuesday evening at home in a crucial Big 8 Conference showdown.

“We played really well in the first game, and we picked up a big win,” said Concord head coach Scott Chase. “We started out well in game two, but a few mistakes led to Maple Valley pulling away in the latter part of the game. Overall, I am pleased with the split against a solid team like Maple Valley.”

The Yellowjackets won game one 5-3 but lost the second game 0-6 to the Lions now lead the Big 8 Conference 7-1. Concord is 4-4 in the Big 8 after splitting its fourth consecutive league doubleheader against Maple Valley. “We seem to developing a bad habit of playing well and putting runs across in the opening game of these doubleheaders,” said Chase. “However, we aren’t getting the bats going in the second game. Also, our defense doesn’t seem as sharp in the second game either.”

Concord split another doubleheader last Thursday at home with non-conference foe Petersburg-Summerfield. Concord won 5-2 in the opener and then lost 4-5 in the nightcap. The Yellowjackets are 10-9 overall on the season. “We are in a good spot, and we are about where we should be at this point of the season,” said Chase, who is happy that his team is staying above the .500 mark.

The battle against VMV began with Carter Arbuckle on the mound and he got the pitching win. He went five full innings and gave up just two base hits and both were singles. He walked four and had seven strikeouts. The three runs he allowed were all earned runs by the Lions. Arbuckle saw some relief help from junior Jordan Medellin. The southpaw recorded two strikeouts and walked two batters. He allowed just one base hit but didn’t allow a run to score as he earned the save.

The Yellowjackets trailed 0-3 after the Lions’ first at bat in the top of the first inning. Arbuckle and Medellin blanked the Lions the rest of the game for the 5-3 Concord win. The Yellowjackets got back two runs in both the first and second innings to go up 4-3. The final five innings saw just one run scored as Concord tacked on a single run in the bottom of the fifth inning.

“Carter did a nice job of working out of trouble early in the game, especially pitching well with the bases loaded,” said Chase.

The Yellowjackets pounded out a dozen base hits with both catcher Dustin Hamilton and shortstop Levi Raymond doing the most damage with three hits each. Second baseman sophomore Nathan Fritz had a pair of hits. Medellin, Gavin Riske, Collin Thompson and Arbuckle each had a base hit. The only Concord extra base hit was a double by Medellin.

Hamilton led the offense with two runs batted in, while Fritz added a run knocked in. Raymond led the Yellowjackets in runs scored as he crossed the plate twice.

The story of the game in the mind of coach Chase was the stellar defense turned in by his Yellowjackets. “Levi made a couple of great plays at shortstop and Nathan made a nice play at second base,” said Chase, who added. “Perhaps, the key defensive play was in the final inning with one out and two Maple Valley runners on it was Collin making a diving catch in left field that really saved us. Overall, we got good clutch pitching, swung the bats well and we excelled on defense. All of this led to a big win over the conference leader. Also, this is a team we may see again in the post-season.”

In the second game the Maple Valley pitcher kept the Yellowjackets off-balance, while also throwing just hard enough to be wildly effective.

Riske, returning from a serious elbow bruise, went on the hill in game two and did well considering he was just given clearance the day before to pitch. He went into the fifth inning with his team trailing just 0-1. A rough start to the fifth saw him depart after allowing four runs on four hits. He struck out three and walked three. Raymond went the final two innings and gave up four hits and two runs. He recorded three strikeouts and walked two batters.

Concord had just four base hits in the second game. Arbuckle led with two singles, while Raymond and sophomore outfielder Lane Blossom added singles. The Yellowjackets ran into the hard-throwing Lion pitcher who recorded 11 strikeouts. “Gavin pitched well and we were right in the game down 1-0 after four innings,” said Chase, who added. “I hope we meet up with them again after the districts and that is what we are working towards.”

The doubleheader with the Bulldogs of P-S saw the Yellowjackets taking game one 5-2 last Thursday at home. Four runs in the first inning and another in the second sparked the Yellowjackets to the win. Freshman hurler Landen Lynn got the pitching win. He had six strikeouts, allowed four hits but did walk seven batters. Concord had seven hits with Arbuckle and Hamilton each having two. Blossom, Medellin and Thompson each had a base hit. The only extra base hit was a double by Arbuckle. Thompson and Arbuckle each had two RBIs in the scheduled five-inning game.

The Bulldogs got the win in the second game. Summerfield jumped ahead 5-1 after three innings but a three-run fourth at bat by the Yellowjackets closed the game to 5-4 but they failed to score in the fifth to suffer the loss.

Lucas Tyler started and went three innings for the Yellowjackets. He allowed 10 hits but just three runs, didn’t walk a batter and had one strikeout. Medellin went one inning and recorded two strikeouts. Landon Hotchkin went one inning in relief.

On offense the Yellowjackets picked up eight base hits. Medellin, Raymond and Blossom each had two hits. Both of Medellin’s hits were doubles. Fritz and Tyler added singles.

“We had a nice win in the first game and almost came back in the second game,” said Chase. “We played pretty well but not as well as I would like to see. We will keep at it and work to make improvements.”

The Yellowjackets head to Ottawa Lake Monday to play a tough Whiteford team that is ranked fifth in Division 3.

Leave a Reply