Out of Sync: Pirates tripped up by Red Barons in Albemarle final
By Mike Wood
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
BARCO — Outstanding pitching performances are usually measured in terms of shutout innings, strikeouts, and over powering velocity. In a word, dominance.
But on a very cool night, with a breeze blowing in, a young pitcher from Gates County named Ron Olsen dominated in a different category, pitching efficiency.
The sophomore righthander faced only 27 batters, just six over the minimum, in leading the Red Barons to a 6-1 victory over Perquimans High School in the championship final of the Albemarle Easter Baseball Tournament.
Olsen limited the usually potent Pirate offense to just four hits, all singles, striking out three, but most important he did not walk a single batter in going the distance. He consistently stayed ahead of the hitters with first pitch strikes.
On the importance of staying ahead in the count, the great Don Drysdale said, "You win going 1-and-2, you lose going 2-and-1, and the difference between them is a fraction of an inch." The "Big D" would have loved watching Ron Olsen pitch Tuesday night.
"I wasn't going for strikeouts, I just wanted to throw strikes, stay ahead in the counts, and pitch to contact," said Olsen, who also hit two home runs in an earlier game in the tournament. " I have seven family members behind me in the field to make the plays."
"He had us swinging," said Perquimans coach Justin Roberson. " He only threw a total of 75 pitches in the game, which is very efficient. We were aggressive, making contact early in the counts, and they played well defensively. They are a well coached team and they earned the win. It was two good teams playing hard and they came out ahead tonight. That's baseball. We now want to finish strong as we have the opportunity to win our conference. We have both Camden and Gates to play again."
The game was tied at 1-1 at the end of four innings.
Perquimans pitcher Devin Mathis turned in a gritty performance of his own.
He should have had a scoreless first inning, but an infield error, a wild pitch, and a swinging bunt by Gates hitter Braxton Newsome brought home an unearned run.
It could have been worse, but with the bases loaded, Pirate second baseman Mason Votava made a leaping grab of a line drive to end the inning.
Perquimans had it's first real threat in the bottom of the second inning.
Mathis led off with a single, and then with two out the designated hitter Cole Turner singled sharply to left field. However, the rally ended when catcher Jaylin Prince flied out to center.
The next inning would see the Pirates break through to tie the score. Mason Votava led off and was robbed of a base hit on a diving stop and throw by Gates third baseman Hunter Mitchell.
Austin Votava then grounded hard up the middle and the Baron's second baseman had trouble with the handle and threw wild to first for a two base error.
Wes Phthisic followed with another ground ball which was a tough chance for the Gates shortstop. He threw low to first and the ball got away allowing Votava to score. There would be no further scoring as Olsen maintained his composure and induced a fly ball and fielders choice to end the inning.
After a scoreless fourth inning for both clubs, Gates broke through with five runs in the fifth inning to take control of the game.
After Mathis struck out the first hitter, the Red Barons loaded the bases on three straight singles. The go ahead run then came home on a deep sacrifice fly to center.
After a wild pitch, another single brought home the third run for the visitors. An infield error plated another, and then a two run single to center field off the bat of Gates designated hitter Frankie Rippy closed out the scoring.
Phthisic came in to pitch and got the final out. He would hold Gates scoreless in the final two frames, but the damage was done, and Olsen was unyielding, getting even stronger in the end. He retired the Pirates in order in the fifth and seventh, and stranded just a sole baserunner in the sixth inning.
"We were able to bunch those hits together in the fifth inning, and we played very well defensively. Olsen just kept throwing strikes, staying ahead of the hitters," said Gates coach Jacob Harrell. "It was a team win for guys who work so hard and feel that they are family. They really pull for each other."