Durham County

Riverside baseball looks to clean up mistakes down the stretch

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A four-game losing streak is not the position Riverside coach Doug Simmons thought his team would be facing after putting together three wins in a row in the PAC-6 three short weeks ago.

Riverside (6-9) suffered its latest setback on Thursday night at Cedar Ridge in the opening round of the Hilltop Invitational. The Pirates lost 9-8 but they easily could have won the game had they not made so many mistakes.

They had base-running errors on offense and a couple of bad decisions in the field cost them runs on the scoreboard to the Red Wolves.

"You can't mishandled a ball in left field and let three runs come in," Simmons said. "I got a centerfield who airmailed one in to third to let another run score. I've got a runner on second base who get thrown out at third on a base hit because he went back to second. We had two guys picked off. You can't win games when you have those mistakes.

Granted, Riverside is a young team with five or sometimes six sophomores out in the field for Simmons. But he'd like to see more consistency from them, especially 15 games into the season. He'd like them to get back to the way they played in beating PAC-6 upstart Hillside 5-4, conference leader Jordan 14-8 and then dominating Person 15-1.

"It's been happening all year, even when we win," Simmons. "Handing runs to the other team has been going on since we began. Sometimes we win anyway but maybe when they're juniors and seniors they won't be making those same mistakes.

But since then, the Pirates' run production has been down as they fell to Garner Magnet 3-2, Northern 6-3 and then to Cardinal Gibbons 10-2. Against Cedar Ridge, it looked like the bats were going to be silent again for the Pirates as they only got one runner on base in the first three innings.

In the fourth, sixth and seventh innings, though, Riverside's hitters finally dialed in on the offerings from the Red Wolves' pitchers.

The Pirates loaded the bases in the fourth against Cedar Ridge starter Brandon Andrews and were able to get three runs out of the situation after he gave way to Evan Hall in relief. They sent nine hitters to bat in the sixth and scored four as Cedar Ridge used three pitchers. Phillip Berger III ended the Riverside rally in the sixth but the Pirates were able to squeeze out one more run in the seventh to cut the final margin to 9-8.

After finishing up its games in the Hilltop, Riverside has another pair of nonconference games with Chapel Hill. The Pirates then return to PAC-6 play where they still have a chance at a good finish. Right now Riverside is 4-4 in league play, which has the Pirates in a tie for third place with East Chapel Hill. They trail Jordan, which is 7-1 in the PAC-6, and Cardinal Gibbons, which stands at 6-1.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6889, @HPreps

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