Pisgah baseball drops game against Chase after 2-0 start

Mar. 5—Baseball is fully underway in Haywood County. For the Pisgah Bears, that meant a three-game slate during week one to open the season.

The week started with two wins — an 11-1 victory against Owen and a 6-3 win over the Enka Jets.

On Thursday, the Bears wrapped up their opening week with a 5-4 loss to the Chase Trojans.

"I'm looking at the big picture," Pisgah head coach Harold Shepard said. "I'm not looking at this week. Obviously, my goal was 3-0 this week, but I'll take 2-1."

The first loss of the season was a rocky one for the Bears from the very start. In the first inning, Pisgah allowed four runs — all of which were walked in.

"They had four unearned runs," Shepard said. "It should've been a 4-1 ballgame. We're better than what we showed today."

Senior Eli Ashe got the start on the mound. It was the third of three games Ashe had appeared in during the week.

But despite the rough start, Shepard knew his senior had it in him to straighten things out.

"Eli had a bad day. Everybody does. He struggled. I think he was a little tired and didn't want to tell me. I thought he was going to come out of it and he did. I've got faith in my guy. I know what he can do and I know what his heart is like," Shepard said "He had a bad inning. I looked at it and thought we could survive it and we almost did."

In the bottom of the first, the Bears got one back with a sacrifice fly from sophomore Maddox Wright that scored freshman Isaiah Mintz.

The second and third innings went by quickly, with just one hit between the two teams.

In the top of the fourth, Chase got a runner on with a single. They followed that up with a sacrifice bunt to move the runner over to second. A single in the next at-bat pushed the Trojan lead to 5-1.

"It's Rutherford County baseball," Shepard said. "They put the ball in play and play for a mistake. We let them lay around and we made the mistakes. It's a different kind of baseball than we play in the Mountain 7 and it's good for us [to see that]."

Pisgah was ready to answer back, however.

Junior Carson Allison was hit by a pitch and then freshman Heath Rogers singled to move Allison over to third.

With runners at the corners, sophomore Boone Carver hit a ground ball to the shortstop. A double play could have ended the inning with one out already on the board, but the play at second would have been close.

The shortstop chose to go straight to first and Allison scored, making the score 5-2.

The fifth inning went the same as the second and third with both teams going three up, three down.

For the Bears, a lot of that came down to bad luck. All night, the team was hitting balls hard.

However, the baseball always seemed to find its way to a defender. In the fifth, senior Walker Fox hit one deep to centerfield, where the wall sits 350 feet from the plate. However, the ball only traveled about 348 feet and into the glove of the centerfielder.

"All week, we've hit the ball and it's found gaps. Stuff that probably shouldn't have fallen fell," Shepard said. "Tonight, stuff that I thought had a chance to fall, didn't fall. That's baseball."

In the top of the sixth, Ashe found himself in another jam. An error, a single and a walk loaded the bases up for the senior, but Ashe struck his man out to keep the comeback efforts alive.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Bears finally got the offense ticking.

Sophomore Owen Rigsby drew a leadoff walk. After a line out, Rogers grabbed a single to move the pinch-running Wright to third.

With one out, Carver stepped to the plate once again. After taking a first-pitch strike, Rogers got on the move for the second pitch, attempting to steal second. On that same pitch, Carver lined one into left field, scoring both runners on base and cutting the score to 5-4.

"They find another gear there. They get a little more up," Shepard said. "I'd much rather it be the first, second and third, but I'll take the sixth if they want to give it to me in the sixth."

In the top of the seventh, senior Eli Rigsby came in to pitch. For the second straight inning, Pisgah found themselves in a bases-loaded jam, this time with just one out.

From there Rigsby struck out two batters to keep it a one-run game going to the final half inning.

Shepard said he always trusted both Rigsby and Ashe during those two situations.

"That's been coming for the last three years for them," he said. "I don't know how many times they've been in that situation, but they've been in it a lot. The expectation is that they can handle it. I wasn't worried about it."

Pisgah managed to get two base runners in the bottom half of the seventh but stranded both — ending the game down 5-4.

Now, Pisgah looks ahead. This week, the Bears hit the road for a game against Hayesville on Tuesday and a game against Enka on Thursday.

Pisgah knocked off Enka in their home opener, but the Jets are looking for revenge.

"Enka has already said they're going to pitch their No. 1 guy at us, and that's fine," Shepard said. "We do better with velocity than we do with the slower guys."