February 27, 2010 11:05:00 PM
The West Point High School baseball team has only played two games, but coach Buddy Wyers already knows one thing that could be a key element to any success the team has this season.
The ability of West Point to develop a short-term memory and play consistently crystallized for Wyers on Saturday as he watched his team commit six errors and strike out 13 times in a 10-5 loss to Alcorn Central in the Columbus Classic at Columbus High.
"We struggled offensively," Wyers said. "We had a couple of hits that were key hits, but we have way too many guys who can run to be standing up there striking out. You put the ball in play and you make them get you out."
The loss came on the heels of a 5-0 victory against Shannon on Friday in which Damichael Brown delivered a strong starting effort on the mound in the season opener.
Wyers was looking for another effort like that Saturday, but instead watched as his team committed six errors and lost its focus after the score was tied 3-3 in the fourth inning.
Wyers said the velocity West Point faced Friday night was better than what his team saw Saturday, but he credited Alcorn Central''s Jake Beck, who started, and Trae Bain, for mixing their pitches and keeping his players off balance with curveballs.
Still, he said the Green Wave need to do a better job.
Edward Cox, Nick Phyfer, and Brandon Edwards (two RBIs) each had two hits for West Point. Cox, Tommy Keys, and Freddie Reed (double) also had RBIs.
Alcorn Central (2-0) used four errors, a hit batter, and a balk to score three runs and take control.
After the game, Wyers acknowledged the Green Wave lost the crispness with which they started the game. In the fifth, he said several of the West Point errors came as a result of players not knowing where they were supposed to be on bunt coverages. As a result, throws from the infield had to be rushed and went for errors.
Wyers said the Green Wave walked through coverages like those in the preseason and that several players didn''t pay attention like they needed to, which contributed to what transpired in the fifth.
After that, West Point appeared to lose steam and managed only one hit and one run in the final two innings.
"Last night we scored five runs just like that in one inning," Wyers said. "It can very easily be done. It can be done with two outs and down to your last strike."
Wyers said the Green Wave need to develop a focus that will carry them through an entire game. Until that happens, he said he will continue to try to help his players believe they can overcome any deficit against any team.
Brown, a left-hander, allowed just two hits and led a pitching effort that had 10 strikeouts and two walks. Shannon advanced only four runners into scoring position.
"He was phenomenal," Wyers said. "He threw very well. I probably threw him a few more pitches than I really wanted to, but we were throwing close to that amount in the pen. He stayed ahead in the count."
Wyers wants his pitchers to continue to realize, though, that the most successful pitchers try to make the hitters put the ball into play. When they realize that, Wyers said the pitchers will be even more successful because they can rely on their teammates.
The Green Wave also had only two hits against Shannon, but they capitalized on four errors in a five-run second inning.
Dalentez Pulliam (double) and Will Harrell (single) had the only hits for West Point.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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