by Andrew Garda
While the weather was perfect for baseball, the Montclair High School baseball team had a rough Friday and Saturday, dropping two games as their record reached 1-5.
The first game took place on Saturday, a 7-3 loss to Columbia, while the second game was a back and forth affair against Millburn. That game reached extra innings, but the Mounties came up short as the Millers took the game with a walkoff 2-run single, losing 11-10.
The Mounties had a total of nine errors across both games, something which was already bothering head coach Ron Gavazzi after Friday’s loss when his team was charged with four.
“Certainly, a sloppy game on our end,” he said. “We threw too many balls, walked too many hitters, hit too many batters and then you add in the fact that we had a tough time fielding, throwing and catching the ball — that’s how you give up seven runs on four hits. It’s a bad combination.”
Quinn Karlock getting the start for Montclair on Friday and had a rough first inning. Karlock’s pitch location seemed to be a bit shaky, contributing to three first inning runs, but he came back with a very strong second inning. Columbia’s patient hitters got to him again in the third inning though, and along with an error at first base and a few sacrifice hits, added three runs.
Karlock was replaced by Ben Sacks in the fourth inning and the hard-throwing right hander blanked Columbia the next three innings, overcoming an error, and a hit batter.
Sacks walked the first batter in the seventh, but then forced the next two Columbia batters to fly out and it looked very much like Montclair would continue to stem the bleeding.
However, Columbia’s Daniel Lowell rocketed a double into the outfield to drive in Christian Pierre, making the score 7-3.
Even though an intentional walk and an error on a throw from third to first put runners on the corners, Sacks was able to force the Columbia batter into a ground out, but the damage was done.
Of course, the real damage had been done in the first and third innings, in part because of the struggles Gavazzi pointed to — mistakes which were repeated at times on Saturday.
“Those mistakes will get you beat every game. The difference is, they,” Gavazzi said referring to Columbia, “made errors as well, but they didn’t walk guys, they didn’t hit guys, and they weren’t in bad counts.”
While the Mounties only went through a pair of pitchers on Friday, they had to pull in three on Saturday.
Josh Moed, Kevin Zaccareo and Kyle Miller threw a combined total of 175 pitches and between both the Mounties and Millers, 357 pitches were thrown in a game where the lead changed four times before the final two runs by Millburn.
Now, after Monday’s rainout against Belleville, the Mounties regrouped to try and get back on track against Nutley on Wednesday.
“We’re searching, trying to play a better brand of baseball,” said Gavazzi on Friday.