WCCS shutout in windy game

Published 11:48 pm Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The heavy winds and tennis ball-sized hail never came through Selma as the weather services predicted, but the wind was still blowing in hard from left field as the Wallace Community College Selma Patriots (16-14) lost 5-0 to the Shelton State Community College Bucs (16-12) on Tuesday afternoon.

WCCS was only able to muster four hits against the Bucs pitching staff, and left five men stranded in scoring position.

“We couldn’t get it going offensively,” WCCS head coach Frank Elliott said. “I thought [SSCC’s] pitching was pretty good. They eat up the strike zone. It was a raw type of day to deal with these pitchers with a lot of movement. Their team is known for their pitching.”

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Patriots second baseman Cole Nelson had the only extra-base hit of the game with a one-out double over the right fielder’s head in the eighth inning that moved Ryen Harbin to third base. The makings of a late rally inspired additional support from the dugout. The uptick in hope was immediately deflated as the Bucs struck out the next batter and forced a groundout to shortstop to end the inning. The Patriots players took their time returning to the field for the top of the ninth as their best chance to get on the scoreboard was ruined.

The game should’ve been closer than the final score showed, but costly errors gave SSCC extra opportunities to score. An error on a groundball to second allowed the Bucs first run of the game to score from second base. An RBI single brought in the second run of the inning to give them a 2-0 lead on unearned runs.

An error on bunt coverage in the top of the sixth gave the Bucs runners on first and third with no outs. They capitalized on the situation by scoring one run on an RBI double, and another on a fielder’s choice to second base.

The Bucs’ leadoff man in the top of the seventh reached on an overthrown ball from the third baseman. He later scored after a groundball to the left side fortuitously bounced off the bag and over the third baseman’s head.

The Patriots used eight pitchers against the Bucs. They combined to only give up one earned run and struck out six. Unfortunately, the errors cause too much damage to overcome.

The Patriots next game is on Thursday in Dothan against Wallace Community College Dothan. The matchup against WCCD is more important for the Patriots because they are in the same division of the Alabama Community College Conference. The Patriots are currently in fifth place in the standings (3-5) and WCCD (1-3) is just two spots behind them.

“We’re about middle of the pack with conference, the way it looks,” Elliott said. “We’re going to have to play well from here on to make it to the tournament.”

At the midway point of the season, each division game becomes more important as the teams fight for playoff spots. The top five teams from the North and South divisions make the playoffs, so the Patriots are looking to at least maintain their position in the playoff race.

“It’s either win now, or you’re looking at being eliminated,” Elliott said.