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Lack of pop, defense cost Wildcats

Springfield ace Riley Borders said his control was little off. Fairmont coach Kent Drake sent his team to the plate with instructions to be aggressive.

It turned out to be a bad combination for the Wildcats on Monday as Fairmont used a five-run second inning to roll to an 8-3 victory in Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division play.

“I give credit to them, they hit the ball,” Borders said. “But my pitches weren’t in their spots. Sometimes they’re not and sometimes they are. It happens.”

The Firebirds (3-7, 1-2) collected 12 hits, including five in the second inning. With two outs, two singles, a double and fielder’s choice pushed Fairmont’s lead to 3-1. Then a throwing error led to two unearned runs.

“Defensively we just have to be better in the middle infield,” Wildcats coach Rob Cassell said. “They hit the ball hard, but we do have to make some plays in that situation. And I think it’s a completely different ballgame if we make a couple plays.”

Borders (1-3) fell behind 7-1 in the third inning as the Firebirds rapped four more singles.

“He’s a good strong pitcher,” Drake said. “He just missed some spots today and we swung aggressively and good things happened.”

Cassell said Borders, who finished with four strong innings and threw only 88 pitches, has been a victim of errors and bad breaks too often.

“As a pitcher that kind of gets in your psyche a little bit,” Cassell said. “And you have to fight through that. My hat off to him — he fought through it.”

For the Wildcats (4-7, 0-3) to turn their season around in the second half, it will take improvement on defense and in hitting.

“Making the routine plays is the biggest thing,” Borders said. “You’ve got to get the sure outs. You’ve got to get the outs they give us. If we can just practice a little more and work on our fundamentals, we’ll be solid.”

The Wildcats came into Monday’s game batting only .239 and managed only six hits against sophomore Jaryd Murphy (3-1). The Wildcats started the game with four straight singles but scored only one run because two runners were thrown out trying to steal second.

“The times that we’ve had success at the plate we’ve been putting guys in motion,” Cassell said. “You win some, you lose some when you gamble like that. We still won the first inning. We thought if we could jump on top early then we could control the tempo of the game. It just didn’t work out that way.”

Murphy is Fairmont’s No. 1 starter and struck out eight because he threw strikes, got ahead of hitters and walked only two.

“When he was on, he was on,” Drake said. “In the innings that they scored, he got a little bit loose with his mechanics and he was all over the place. I went out and talked to him a couple times, calmed him down.”

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