Sunshine Eagles coach Jared Van Hoon was happy to take the brunt of the blame after his side’s dramatic 5-4 extra-inning loss to Essendon in Baseball Victoria summer league division 1 at Barclay Reserve on Saturday.
It looked to be a great decision when Van Hoon sent out starting pitcher Tayler Rowe to pitch the ninth inning to finish off his fine work for the day, but it turned into a disaster.
Holding a 3-1 lead, Rowe managed to get the first two outs, but the third and final proved more troublesome.
Rowe coughed up the two runs that took the game to extra innings.
“He pitched the full nine innings, got the first two guys out in the ninth and then gave up a double and they scored on an error to the pitcher,” Ban Hoon said. “They tied the game from there.
“I’m kind of taking the blame for not pulling him in the ninth inning.
“He was getting through their line-up for a fourth time and I probably should’ve made the change.”
But the temptation to keep Rowe on the mound was too strong.
Rowe had brought his top-shelf stuff all game, had only just nudged 80 pitches and wanted the ball at the start of the ninth.
Given the same situation in the future, Van Hoon cannot say he would not make the same decision.
“I’d go with my gut,” he said. “He pitched great the whole game, he wanted to be out there and he said this is his ball game to win – so I kept him in.
“Obviously, things didn’t go our way, but I wouldn’t say we lost the game at that point. We lost the game because we couldn’t score more runs in the middle of the game.”
Van Hoon put Sunshine in a position to win with a two-run home run in the first inning.
But the Eagles could only manage one further run in the regulation nine innings.
Essendon scored two runs off Van Hoon at the top of the 10th to make it 5-3, while Sunshine managed to score once in the bottom of the 10th and left one man stranded to lose by one run.
“Tayler Rowe threw another gem for us, like he has done all year,” Van Hoon said.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get more run support for him with the bat.”
Sunshine remains on top of its conference, a game clear of Essendon.