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Pitching costs ACM in doubleheader vs Frederick

Mar. 8—CUMBERLAND — Allegany College entered Wednesday's doubleheader against Frederick with a 5.32 team ERA, the fifth-best in NJCAA Region 20.

However, the Trojans had no answer for a high-powered Cougars offense.

"It just seemed like everything we hit was right at them," ACM head coach Mason Heyne said. "Everything they hit found a hole. It's just one of those days that those type of things happen."

Frederick, the 19th ranked team in NJCAA Division II, took game one 8-2 and game two 14-4 for the sweep and the Trojans' first two losses of the season.

The Cougars (11-1, 2-0 Region 20) won last year's East District and have won the last four Region 20 titles.

For the first four innings of the opener, the Trojans (8-2, 2-2 NJCAA Region 20) hung around in a low-scoring pitcher's duel.

Aidan Walker started for ACM and went four innings, allowing five hits, two runs and a walk.

"He pitched pretty well," Heyne said. "We took him out because his pitch count was getting up there. Want to make sure our guys are healthy."

After allowing an RBI double to Bryce Curry in the first inning, Walker threw three shutout innings.

He was pulled in the fifth with the Trojans leading 2-1.

Nazir Mendez hit a sacrifice fly RBI in the first inning.

After a wild pitch moved the runner to third, Konner Pittman gave Allegany the lead on a groundout.

To open the fifth, Timmy Jones entered from the bullpen.

He only lasted 2/3 of an inning after allowing four hits and two runs.

Christian Cabina hit a two-run double past the third baseman, giving the Cougars a 3-2 lead.

After Will Gisriel singled, Daniel Herrera drove him home on a base hit to right.

"They just found some holes," Heyne said. "They didn't hit the ball that amazing, they just got some soft singles here and there."

Trailing 4-2 in the fifth, back-to-back throwing errors put runners on the corners for the Cougars.

Johnny Montgomery took over on the mound for ACM and stranded both runners with a flyout to end the inning.

Cam Jones led off the sixth with a four-pitch walk. He stole second and scored on an RBI single by Nick Varda.

Tyler Serb took over as the fourth Trojan pitcher to appear.

Varda stole second, setting up a two-run double down the third-base line by Nick Keane.

Bryce Curry added another run on a groundout, pushing Frederick's lead to 8-2.

Through the first five innings, neither team struck out. There were only four combined strikeouts in the first game as each team kept the ball in play.

"Both of our teams can put the ball in play and hit," Heyne said. "That's a testament for both of us. Also a good thing for the pitchers because they're throwing strikes. Unfortunately, their hits snuck through and ours were caught or right at somebody."

However, the Cougars combined for 13 hits compared to two for the Trojans.

In the second game, Frederick loaded the bases in the third inning up 3-0.

However, Zach Neville entered and only allowed one run while getting out of the inning.

"I thought that was a momentum shift but our guys couldn't respond," Heyne said. "They did a nice job countering that."

Allegany responded by loading the bases with singles by Cesar Ibarra and Sean Cherry and a hit by pitch.

Brady Gavula drove in two runs on a base hit to left, cutting the deficit to 4-2.

Allegany High graduate Alex Kennell sent a chopper off of second base up the middle for an RBI single.

Edem Okpattah tied the game on a sacrifice fly RBI.

"We just continued to get after it and barrel baseballs," Heyne said. "Eventually, they're gonna find a hole."

The Cougars dominated the final four innings, scoring 10 unanswered runs.

Curry gave Frederick a 5-4 lead on an RBI single in the fourth.

A base hit from Gisriel loaded the bases.

A hit batter and back-to-back two-run doubles from Jones and Jake Holler pushed the Frederick lead to 10-4.

"It seemed like our guys would get behind in the count and have to serve something in there," Heyne said.

The Cougars added three runs in the fifth and one in the sixth.

With a 10-run lead in the sixth, Frederick retired the side in order to end the game by the run rule.

Five pitchers played for ACM in the second game. They combined to allow 14 runs, 13 hits and seven walks with only four strikeouts.

"We're super young, we have guys that don't have a ton of experience on the mound," Heyne said of the pitching staff. "I think the whole moment of playing Frederick and knowing they're good might've gotten to them."

Joey Serafin earned the win in relief, going two innings.

The Cougars again had 13 hits while Allegany had five.

Heyne had about a 15-minute postgame talk with his team following the sweep.

"It just didn't seem like we were super motivated," Heyne said of his message. "Our bench players that are normally engaged didn't seem motivated. The message was the little things when you play good teams, pop ups, fastballs, missing the cut off, allowing them to get another base. It's always gonna be magnified when you play a good team."

The Trojans host Terra State from Fremont, Ohio, for a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at noon.

"It's an eye opener to the guys because we were playing pretty well," Heyne said. "I think it's good for us, maybe it's a slap in the face to say we're not really the big dog in the region."

Jordan Kendall is a Sports Writer for the Cumberland Times-News. Email him with scores and story suggestions at jkendall@times-news.com.