Jason Duey knew his Seymour High School varsity baseball squad would experience growing pains this fall.
But he admits that living the experience isn’t easy.
“We’re 10 games in this fall, and we’re still struggling offensively and fielding the ball,” Duey said Monday on the heels of his ballclub dropping three games in three days at the annual Seymour Wood Bat Tournament.
Seymour lost its tourney opener to Mansfield in a narrow 5-4 decision on Thursday, fell 17-6 to a strong Crane squad Friday, then was defeated 4-1 by Weaubleau on Saturday in the tournament’s fifth-place game.
“At times, I fear this group of boys fears bad things happening ... then they happen,” Duey explained. “There are many times where I feel our focus and intensity is lacking. There often doesn’t seem to be a real sense of urgency. I don’t question the effort, but we’re going to have to improve if we want to win ballgames.”
The three tourney losses dropped the Tigers’ fall record to 3-7.
Last fall, Seymour finished with a 12-2 mark.
Four seniors, three of them Class 2 All-State selections, were lost to graduation. But despite the graduation losses, Duey said his squad should be better than 3-7.
“I know that our starting lineup includes two freshmen, a sophomore who didn’t see much varsity action last spring and lots of guys playing in different positions,” Duey noted. “But I also know we’ve lost several games that we could have just as easily won.
“Our inexperience came to light in this tournament. We just couldn’t get anything going offensively. Then, when you couple our lack of (offensive) production with walks and errors, you don’t have a good recipe to win games.”
The Tigers opened tourney play against Summit Conference and Class 2 district rival Mansfield on Thursday.
It was a close contest the entire way.
Seymour led 1-0 after one inning, Mansfield’s Lions tied the score at 1-1 in the second frame, then both teams scored a third-inning run to make the score 2-2.
Mansfield added two runs in the fourth inning to lead 4-2,
the Tigers trailed 5-3 after six innings, then a seventh-inning rally fell short in a 5-4 loss.
“We gave ourselves a chance late,” Duey said of the onerun loss to the Lions. “In the end, we couldn’t get the hit we needed to tie or win the game.”
Of Mansfield’s five runs, four were unearned.
“When a walk turns into a triple or a routine ground ball does the same thing, then it’s hard to win and puts a lot of pressure on our pitchers,” Duey said.
Junior Nathaniel Hosiner pitched the first four innings and gave up four runs (one earned) on four hits. He struck out five and walked five.
Senior Carson Sturdefant went the next 1-1/3 innings and struck out three, allowing a lone hit.
The final two outs were recorded by senior hurler Brandon Young, who allowed one hit and one unearned run. He also recorded a strikeout.
“We only allowed five hits in the game,” Duey said. “But we gave up too many walks, which gave them chances.
“Above that, we only had three hits and only drew two walks. It was one of those games where we weren’t in a position to win until the end ... we trailed most of the game.”
Hosiner paced the Tiger offense by going 2-for-2 with a pair of runs batted in (RBIs). He scored a run and was hit by a pitch twice, reaching base in all four plate appearances.
Freshman Matthew Benson had Seymour’s only other hit, a seventh-inning single. He scored a run.
Sturdefant reached base twice and scored twice.
In action Friday against Crane, the rival Pirates jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after one inning, then Seymour cut the deficit to 3-2 after three frames.
Then the wheels came off.
Crane scored eight runs in the fourth inning, then six more in the sixth inning.
The end result was a 17-6 loss, as the Tigers’ other runs came in the fourth (one run) and fifth (three runs) innings.
“They had two big innings that resulted in 14 of their 17 runs,” Duey said. “That’s the story of the game. We had four errors that led to six unearned runs.
“Errors hurt us ... walks and errors turned into several free runs for them.”
Hosiner was 2-for-3 with a triple, one run scored and two RBIs to pace Seymour’s offensive attack.
Senior Larry Benson and sophomore Payton Bryant had the Tigers’ only other hits, both singles.
Matthew Benson, Bryant and Young added RBIs; scoring runs were Larry Benson, Sturdefant, Young and junior Scott Helms.
On a positive note, Seymour drew eight walks. Sturdefant drew three of them, while Pearce had two.
Sturdefant was the losing pitcher.
He went four innings and allowed 11 runs (seven earned) on seven hits. He struck out seven and walked three.
Bryant pitched the final two innings and gave up six runs (four earned) on four hits.
Duey said the Tigers’ effort was solid Saturday against Weaubleau, a 20-win team last spring that advanced to the Class 1 “Final Four.”
Virtually the entire squad last spring returned this fall.
Seymour lost 4-1 as the Tigers trailed 2-0 after one frame and 3-0 after three.
The Tigers’ lone run came in the fifth inning.
Offensively, Seymour scattered nine hits, led by Sturdefant, who had a single and double and scored the Tigers’ lone run. Pearce also had a pair of singles.
Baker singled and had one RBI.
Also with hits were Bryant, Helms, Hosiner and Young.
Baker went the entire way on the mound for the Tigers, pitching six innings and allowing four runs (three earned) on just five hits. He struck out six and walked none.
“Nathan pitched well enough to win,” Duey said. “He hit his spots and did a good job.
“We just struggled offensively, scoring only one run despite out hitting them.”
This week, the Tigers play three games.
On Monday, Seymour played host to Marion C. Early of Morrisville, followed by a Tuesday matchup at Conway.
The Tigers’ fall and home finale arrives at 4:30 p.m. this Thursday when Spokane visits.
“I’m hoping we can end the fall with some positive momentum,” Duey concluded. “It would be nice to win several games this week.
“Ideally, all three of them.”