One of the toughest feats in sports is to beat the same team twice on the same day. The second contest caught up with the Elma High School baseball team in a doubleheader against Tenino on April 10, and the Eagles (6-3, 4-3) split the twinbill, winning the first, 5-3, and losing the nightcap, 14-5.
In the first game, Elma senior Austin Neary struck out three and limited the Beavers to just six hits in his seven innings of work.
“He was able to take a great hitting team and keep them off balance with a mixture of his off speed pitches with his fastball,” coach Scott Rowland said. “You don’t want to be a pitcher that is easy to read and you come with the same pitches over and over. He mixed his pitches real well and he just threw a helluva good game.”
Rowland said he could not have been more pleased with the first game of the doubleheader with the clutch hitting and good defense behind the strong performance from Neary.
“The first game they played awesome,” Rowland said. “I was proud of the kids and the way they played. We had a lot of kids that hit the ball well.”
Unfortunately for the Eagles, there was still one more contest on the day.
Elma got off to a bad start from the beginning in the second game, giving up three runs in the first inning, but the Eagles would battle back. Elma scored one run in the bottom of the first and then sent another three accross the plate in the second inning to take the lead.
With the game tied at 5 in the fifth inning, the wheels came off for Elma. The Eagles gave up nine runs in the final three innings.
“Once things started going bad, instead of battling back through it we hung our heads a bit and looked like we gave up in the field,” Rowland said. “They are a good hitting ball club. Their balls had eyes and found the gaps, but you can’t hang your head and not play hard and that was the only thing that disappointed me in the second half, we had some kids hanging their heads and not playing as hard as they should.”
In the seventh inning, Elma made two errors on back-to-back plays and then followed those two up with another error two plays later. Rowland said the team’s frustrations were evident in the field and that can’t happen for Elma to be successful this season.
“It is a matter of self pride,” Rowland said. “Everything in baseball is not going to go your way and what you do is if you make a mistake, don’t dwell on the mistake, learn from it. You can’t get it back. Don’t sit there and think about it. It is history now. You just learn from it and move on.”
Even with a less than perfect performance in the second game of the doubleheader, the Eagles have show a lot of improvement since the first game of the season, Rowland said. Elma’s record of 6-2 in the last eight games has Rowland excited about the Eagles chances for the rest of the season.
“You see glimpses of a real good team and then we faulter a little bit. What we need to work on is consistency. We just have to bring that level of intensity that we bring to the first game for the second game. We are getting there it is just a work in progress.”