July 25, 2021

Baxter baseball can’t hold early lead in district loss to Ogden

OGDEN — Baxter’s baseball team couldn’t have started its Class 1A District 12 quarterfinal game against second-seeded Ogden much better.

The Bolts were taking pitches out of the zone, running the bases well and taking advantages of a few Ogden miscues.

The visitors led 3-0 after their at-bat in the third inning but couldn’t maintain the momentum as Ogden scored six runs in the third and fifth and dispatched the Bolts 13-3 in five innings on Monday.

The game was originally scheduled for Saturday but was postponed to Monday because of inclement weather.

The Bolts ended their season with three straight losses. Ogden defeated Collins-Maxwell in the district semifinals on Tuesday and have won four of its last five games.

“That one bad inning has gotten us this year and we can’t have that this time of year. You won’t win games if you do that,” Baxter baseball coach Brett Slight said. “That big inning is what hurt us. There was a costly error and they got momentum and we just couldn’t catch up from there.”

Baxter (6-14) was limited to one hit and had three errors. The Bolts did draw seven walks. Unfortunately, Baxter’s three pitchers issued 12 walks and hit two batters to help Ogden’s attack.

“I still think we have good pitching. The command part got us today,” Slight said. “It’s been good this year, but we were off tonight for sure. The competition was up a bit and we put a little bit of pressure on ourselves. We just have to throw strikes. Putting guys on base with walks certainly never helps.”

Baxter struck first in the first inning. Rory Heer led off the game with a long at-bat that resulted in a walk. He stole second and went to third on a passed ball.

Heer scored on a double play that helped Ogden starter Aidan Kathman limit the damage.

The Bolts’ added two runs in the third. With one out, Brad Matthews walked and then Heer singled for the Bolts’ only hit of the game.

Ben Richardson moved both runners up a base after his sacrifice bunt and Matthews scored on a two-out throwing error.

Heer scored seconds later as he caught Ogden napping between pitches.

“We had to be aggressive on the bases to beat a team like this,” Slight said. “We felt good early. I was super confident. Our approach at the plate looked good. We weren’t chasing pitches, we were seeing the ball well and taking walks, which is always a good sign for our hitters.”

Ogden scored six runs in the third off four hits. There was one Baxter error and Bolts’ starting pitcher Andrew Klemme hit one Bulldog and walked three more.

Klemme came out of the game with two outs in the third. Jake Travis got the final out on a soft line drive back to the mound. But Ogden got to him in the fourth and fifth. Travis allowed one run on four walks in the fourth. The first three runners reached base against Travis in the fifth before Slight went to Cael Shepley.

Shepley finished the game but got just two outs in the fifth. He walked one, hit one and allowed four runs on three hits.

Klemme took the loss, allowing six runs — four earned — on five hits with three strikeouts, six walks and one hit by pitch in 2 2/3 innings.

Travis went 1 1/3 innings and surrendered four runs — three earned — on one hit with five walks and one strikeout.

“We just couldn’t overcome the third inning,” Slight said. “And our heads started to dip after that.”

Heer led the Bolts with one hit, two walks, two runs and one steal. Matthews walked twice and scored once and Perrin Sulzle, Jalen Porter and Richardson all drew one walk.

Ogden (19-11) advanced to the district finals after its 13-3 win over Collins-Maxwell on Tuesday. The Bulldogs will play top-seeded Coon Rapids-Bayard (23-8) at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Coon Rapids.