Pilot Grove baseball coach Clint Poulsen had two choices Tuesday night in the regular-season finale against the Fayette Falcons.
With the district tournament starting Friday in New Franklin, Poulsen had the choice of playing the seniors on Senior-Parents Night at the CMU field in Fayette or let his starters play in a game that really had no meaning.
As it turned out, Poulsen chose to let the seniors play against the Falcons in a 5-2 loss.
“Well a night after not showing up to play, we decided to do it again,” Poulsen said. “Our hitting has gone stagnant and it seems to be affecting the entire lineup. We have a lack of discipline at the plate and have been taking the wrong approach in a lot of our at bats. If we don’t get this straightened out we won’t be playing very long into the postseason. It’s a good thing we have a week to get ready for our first game in districts. This was our senior night and I think them for all they have done for our program.”
The seniors almost gave Pilot Grove another victory after pushing across one run in the top-half of the first. However, after the Falcons rallied back to tie the game in the bottom-half of the third, senior pitcher Kendall Kraus made one mistake by throwing a fastball to Fayette’s Collin O’Connell, who kindly parked it over the left field wall for a grand slam home run to make it 5-1.
The Tigers didn’t go down without a fight, though. In the sixth, Pilot Grove rallied back with one run to cut the lead to three at 5-2. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they never got any closer as Fayette held on for the victory to improve to 6-7 overall.
Jerrod Riley picked up the complete-game victory for Fayette while Kraus took the loss for Pilot Grove, who dropped to 11-4 on the season. In seven innings, Riley scattered two runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out four. Kraus, meanwhile, pitched 4 1/3 innings and scattered five hits and four walks over 4 1/3 innings while striking out two. Jake Leverton then came in and struck out two batters in 1 2/3 innings in relief.
O’Connell went 2-for-3 in the game for Fayette with a single, home run and four RBIs while Riley added a single, double and one RBI.
For Pilot Grove, Trenton Young went 2-for-3 with two doubles and one RBI while Aaron Waibel doubled and Sean Lorenz, Kendall Kraus, Donnovan Sturguess, Grant Felten and Regan Meisenheimer each singled.