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Sports

March 25, 2013

Ninnekah freezes Bulldogs in home contest

EMPIRE — Amidst one of the chilliest games of the 2013 baseball season, the Empire offense stayed cold all game Monday.

The Bulldogs (3-6) couldn’t get it going at the plate, striking out 14 times  and dropping its third straight game in a 5-1 loss to Ninnekah (2-3) at home

“That was one of the better pitchers we’ve seen so far this year and we came out a little stagnant after coming back from spring break,” Bulldogs coach Caleb Cole said. “We just watched too many pitches and when we did swing, we were late.”

Pitcher Cole Bridges did all he could to keep Empire in the game, but Ninnekah’s three run outburst in the fifth inning proved to be the difference.

Bridges and Owls pitcher Devin Robnett baffled their opponent early, and neither team generated any offense in the first two innings. Empire came close to seizing an early lead in the first after a Stephen Price double to left center, but Price was thrown out trying to steal home after taking third base during the next at bat.

Two innings later, Robnett gave himself a lead with a two out RBI double to right field, scoring Cody Reed from second base.

The offense kept coming from the pitchers in the fourth inning, as Empire struck back when Bridges scored on a wild pitch.

Ninnekah wasted no time getting back on top, scoring three runs in the fifth to stay ahead for good. Chris Busby brought home Reed on a double in the far left corner, and Blake Daggs added insurance when he smacked a two run line drive single to deep left field with the bases loaded.

“That’s the kind of program that we want to be,” Cole said. “That was a strong team with a good knowledge of situational baseball.”

Failing to put the ball in play, Empire struck out seven times after that and could not get back on the scoreboard. The Bulldogs threatened in the sixth by loading the bases, but the rally ended when Freddy Larson was picked off at first base after hitting a single. Robnett sealed his complete game and an Owls victory by striking out Braden Hill in the bottom of the seventh.

Troubles in the field plagued Empire from the start, as it finished with six errors.

“It seems like about half their runs came from people getting on base from our mistakes,” Cole said. “As a whole we’ve got to get more baseball savvy about us.”

Bridges held his own in the losing effort, striking out eight and allowing four runs in six innings.

Price provided most of the Empire offense, getting on base three times and driving in the Bulldogs’ only run.

Empire will be back is action today when it travels to face Temple at 4:30 p.m..

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