Miners start strong, fade later on

The Bauxite Miners baseball team opened the 2012 season this past week and started the year off right with a 3-2 victory over the Glen Rose Beavers on Monday at Bauxite.

Led by the pitching of senior Ryan Weng, the Miners played stellar defense behind him to get the victory.

“Monday, our defense and pitching showed out,” Bauxite Coach Michael Mattox said. “It’s the best defensive game I’ve coached at Bauxite. We made every play. We had a 74-pitch complete game from our pitcher. We couldn’t ask for a better game.”

Weng, who led the Miners with a 3.22 earned-run average, innings pitched (50), strikeouts (38) and eight game starts, picked up the win over the Beavers. He threw just 74 pitches in seven innings, including 55 after six, and gave up two runs (one earned), two hits and two walks while striking out three.

“He’s probably our No. 1 at this point,” Mattox said of Weng. “He definitely is. He was last year. He was really rolling. He battled. He doesn’t walk many batters and he goes right after you. He faced a team that likes to swing at first-pitch strikes and he took advantage of it.”
Though Weng (1-0, 1.00 ERA) pitched an ace of a game, it was his defense that backed him up.

“Equal credit goes to the defense because he only had two strikeouts in the whole game,” Mattox said. “Defense made plays and turned a couple double plays. They really played well behind him.”

The Miners took on Mayflower on Tuesday in Mayflower and Hot Springs Lakeside on Thursday, but the results weren’t what Mattox was looking for after Monday. Bauxite was shutout by Mayflower 9-0 and dropped to Lakeside 12-3.

“Very pleased with the start there [Monday] and then we get to Mayflower on Tuesday and a totally different team showed up,” he said. “Walked a bunch, hit a couple batters. [Mayflower] kind of extended the lead all the way through the game; bad pitch selection and bad mechanics; we really struggled against them.

“We saw Lakeside’s No. 1 and No. 2 [pitchers]. They are a solid team. They’re Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 hitters were outstanding for them. It just seemed like we had a hard time getting through them every time they came around.”

The Miners made it close in the Lakeside game when they used small ball and got people on base to make it a 6-3 ballgame midway through, but pitching and defense failed the Miners again.

“We fell apart on the mound again and made two critical errors at second base that cost us four or five runs,” Mattox said.

In Bauxite’s last two games, the Miners have hit a combined .173 and are currently hitting .200 on the young season. Combine that with a 15.00 ERA and bad defense in those two games, and the statistics do not lie.
“If we play defense like we did on Monday, we can beat a lot of people, but when you make errors, it makes it tough, especially going against a solid pitcher,” Mattox said.

Through three games, senior Hunter Wray leads the team with a .500 average (3 for 6), senior Tim Dunlap leads the Miners with two runs and senior Adam Martin has two runs batted in for the team lead.

“We have to get better [offensively],” Mattox said. “We don’t have to hit home runs and score 10 runs a game, but we’ve got to at least get three or four runs a game.”

The Miners will play next in the Bauxite FCA Tournament, which starts Wednesday in Bauxite. The Miners are scheduled to play Thursday.