By James Howell
PLAINFIELD — Saturday afternoon the Plainfield Quakers (6-4) baseball team hosted Western High School, the defending 3A state champion. Plainfield kept both contests close, but could not overcome the Panthers’ experience.
After falling behind early in the second game, the Quakers struggled to claw back into it as Western went on to win, 7-5.
In the first inning, junior Gabe Burkhardt took the mound for the Quakers looking to strike out future Heartland Community College player Marcus Pingleton. Trying to get the team off to a fast start, Burkhardt was unable to put him away and would hit two batters and walk three in the first inning while the team committed three errors as a whole.
The Panthers took advantage and took a 5-0 lead, capitalizing on the Quakers’ mistakes.
“It took the wind out of our sails. We were pumped up coming out for a second game and it hurt. It was just not executing our pitches. You just got to come out ready to go and we didn’t,” Plainfield coach Jeff McKeon said about his team’s slow start.
The Quakers would bench Burkhardt and put senior Greg Simpson on the mound after 1.1 innings. Simpson was able to come in and pitch 5.2 innings and give up no earned runs. He also chalked up three strikeouts and only surrendered two hits.
Simpson commented on what the strong outing meant by saying, “Its builds our confidence because it adds more depth to our pitching.”
With Simpson stopping the Western offense, Plainfield was able to cut into the six-run deficit and score five runs in the bottom of the third inning. The majority of Plainfield’s runs came off the bats of Alec Caprarella (2 RBI double) and Kalib Clark (2 RBI single).
McKeon attributed the strong hitting in the third inning as the most positive thing to take from the game.
“They threw their No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 pitchers at us and we hit them. Their No. 1 is going to Division I UAB and we hit him,” McKeon said.
After the third inning streak of hitting, the Quakers’s bats went cold and were unable to add to their score, while Western added another run to pad its lead.
The Quakers lost in the first game of the doubleheader as well by a score of 9-5, getting just two hits.