PLYMOUTH — It wasn’t a secret. La Porte knew its margin for error was slim.
When its error total was nearly twice as much as its hit total, that spelled trouble in a sectional semifinal against the host Pilgrims. La Porte mustered a mere three hits, while committing five errors, and allowed a pair of big innings on Saturday.
It all added up to a season-ending 11-0 setback to Plymouth in its own Class 4A sectional at Bill Nixon Field.
It snapped La Porte’s seven-game winning streak dating back exactly two weeks.
“Some of the things we saw in the season just raised their ugly head here today,” Slicers coach Scott Upp said. “Obviously, everybody knows we just didn’t play well today. We played well seven out of our last eight ball games, but when you’re in the tournament, you can’t have a poor game.”
La Porte thumped Plymouth 15-2 on the road on April 20.
This contest was totally different.
Tim Tremaine tossed a three-hit shutout and the Pilgrims (15-12) pounced on errors of the Slicers (12-18), especially in the third inning.
“When we throw strikes, we’re a pretty hard ball club to beat,” Plymouth coach Ryan Wolfe said. “We just had some good at-bats, too. Two-out hits, that’s kind of the key to baseball in high school. Throwing strikes and two-out hits and driving runs in. We always tell our guys it’s not how many hits you get, but when you get them.”
La Porte’s lackluster defense allowed the Pilgrims to jump ahead 4-0 in the third. Ezra Winkle hit a two-run single to left field, while Matt Dobuck had an RBI groundout to first. Jackson Lee added an RBI base hit to center. In the inning, Slicers’ first baseman Josh Trim had a fielding error on a ground ball, and left fielder Jack McGuire had a throwing error.
The four-run margin was sufficient for Tremaine.
The senior right-hander went the distance, fanning seven with a pair of walks. Tremaine (5-1) allowed only one baserunner to reach second.
“We just didn’t have a good approach,” Upp said. “We took some fastball strikes again. In the first nine hitters, we had five strikeouts. In tournament baseball, you’ve just got to find ways to put the ball in play.”
The only Slicer to reach second was Brock Lipscomb in the third, when he walked and stole second.
Otherwise, it was smooth sailing for Tremaine.
“He’s a kid that’s all he does is pitch for us,” Wolfe said. “So he gets geared up for his starts. When he can throw all three pitches for strikes in any counts... He just fills up the zone and when you do that, you keep guys off balance.”
Plymouth put the game out of reach with a two-run sixth and a five-run seventh.
A one-out walk came around to score on center fielder Parker Hill’s dropped hard-hit, fly ball in the sixth, and Cole Filson had an RBI single to left. Both of those runs were unearned, making it 6-0.
La Porte’s Logan Schroeder started and recorded the loss, throwing the first 2 2/3 innings, surrendering four runs, two earned, on five hits. He struck out one and walked a pair.
Mason Schroeder relieved his twin brother in the third and tossed three scoreless frames, before the Pilgrims scored the aforementioned two unearned runs in the sixth. Mason Schroeder gave up those two unearned runs on two hits in 3 1/3 innings. He fanned three and walked a pair.
“Mason did a real nice job,” Upp said. “From the beginning of the year to the end of the year, he had a couple good outings, so it’s a good foundation for us to get started for next year. He was mixing it up well, just throwing strikes. That’s where Mason has had trouble in the past of pounding that strike zone. He should be able to see the difference.”
Filson led Plymouth, finishing 2-for-5 with three RBI. Jesus Luva and Ivan Winkle both had two hits, and Ezra Winkle added two RBI.
The Pilgrims registered no errors, compared to the Slicers’ struggles defensively.
“When you have five errors and only three hits, you’ve not going to win many ball games,” Upp said. “We all know, obviously, the errors caused us issues. It’s pretty easy for even the non-baseball fan to see that.”
McGuire, Carson Crass and Zane Eskridge all had one hit for La Porte.
The Pilgrims meet the Mishawaka/South Bend Adams winner in the final at 5 p.m. Monday.
On the other side, the Slicers say goodbye to four seniors to graduation, Lipscomb, Trim, Jake Spence and Dave Applegarth.
“You’ve got to give credit to those seniors, sticking together for four years and giving us a good four years,” Upp said. “We hope that we taught more than just baseball, we hope we taught some responsibilty, what it’s like to be part of a team, maybe something bigger than yourselves. We taught them what commitment is.”
Class 4A Plymouth Sectional
Plymouth 11, La Porte 0
The Slicers’ seven-game winning streak was stopped.