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La Salle-Peru senior Max Strickland (right) is tagged out by Normal West catcher Mitch Fairfield (No. 11) during the Cavaliers’ 3-0 loss Wednesday in a non-conference game at Veterans Park in Peru. NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
The La Salle-Peru baseball team recorded one less hit than Normal West during Wednesday’s game in at Veterans Park in Peru.
But the hits didn’t produce runs as the Cavaliers fell 3-0.
“I think at this point, we’ve played a few close games early and guys are pressing a little bit,” said L-P assistant coach Dave Kelty, who is at the helm while coach Matt Glupczynski recovers from pneumonia. “I think a few games ago we talked about guys pressing at the plate and today we actually had some base running opportunities.
“I think guys are trying to get something going. We’re down a couple of runs and they’re trying to be aggressive, but we’re not used to getting the base hit we need to get.”
L-P (0-6) had at least one base runner in every inning except the fifth as it recorded four hits compared to the Wildcats’ five.
Third baseman Erik Milaicki reached third base twice — in the second and fourth innings on a fielder’s choice and an error — and designated hitter Max Strickland and first baseman Matt Jaegle reached third in the sixth inning.
However, the Cavs couldn’t string hits together or force the Wildcats to make mistakes to score the runs.
Normal West (5-4) took the lead early as leadoff hitter Cody Rogers circled the bases after driving a double deep into right-centerfield in the first inning.
Normal West coach Chris Hawkins said the fast start was crucial to winning a game in early April.
“Starting the first inning, we had a leadoff double and our leadoff man gets a 3-2 count and our two hole bunts him to third and then we get a sac fly,” Hawkins said. “It was small ball and execution. We needed that on a day like today.
“La Salle-Peru’s pitchers were very quality, and especially on a windy and cold day, runs are hard to come by. Being able to manufacture a run in the first inning to get us on top gave us a little relaxation. We weren’t pressing quite as much at the plate.”
Kyle Rothrock started at the mound for L-P and recorded his longest start of the season with six innings. Rothrock struck out two, gave up four hits, two earned runs and walked three batters.
The Cavs pitcher found himself in trouble in the fourth inning after walking Reid Birlingmair — who stole second and reached third on a wild pitch — and giving up an RBI single to Reed Rogers.
However, he survived the storm by getting three of the next four batters out, including one of his two strikeouts.
“Kyle left the ball up a little bit but he had guys just off enough to where he got some fly-ball outs,” Kelty said. “I think as the game went on — in the last couple of innings — he really settled down and kept guys off balance. He kept us in the game.”
Erik Gens struck out one and allowed one run and one hit in one inning.
Kelty said the winless Cavs are improving and learning from the close losses in the early part of a tough schedule, but they still can’t find that extra something to get in the win column.
“They want something positive. We’ve had a rough start,” Kelty said. “We’ve played some really rough teams. We’ve played them close — we’re just trying to get over the hump.
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.
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