The bright spots were few when the T.C. Williams Titans left a chilly Simpson Field Tuesday evening after an 11-4 rout laced with struggles in the field and at the plate.
Facing a winless Lee Lancers squad, the Titans looked outmatched, outwitted and overpowered. When Lee made contact, which was early and often, the ball often shot into a gap in the defense, bounced off a glove or dropped just far enough from a Titan to stay in play. Throws to first and second went wild – and easy outs disappeared with them.
It was an issue of discipline and mental errors, said first year coach Jim Blair.
“We had some defensive lapses,” he said. “A couple of times we definitely let things snowball on us and it led to big innings [for Lee].”
With junior Nate Ribyat on the mound to give senior Steve Weidmen rest after pitching a 10-2 shellacking at the hands of W.T. Woodson Friday, things began smoothly. The first inning was punctuated by a pair of fly balls and a strikeout to end the side, stranding two Lancers on base.
The snowball began an inning later with a double, a bunt and a walk to load the bases. Then came another single and a run; a bunt, and a run; a hit into the outfield gap, and a run.
When Ribyat came out in favor of reliever Alec Grosser, the damage had been done. Though he ended the inning with a strikeout, Grosser could only watch as a bad throw left the ball on the baseline between first and second, bringing another Lancer home.
“We switched up the rotation a bit,” Blair said, addressing Ribyat’s start. “We gave another guy an opportunity and he came out and did well. A couple of calls didn’t go our way … we kept compounding the issues.”
For T.C., there would be no recovery and no rally, despite optimistic chatter from the dugout.
Still, faced with a 4-1 deficit, Grosser returned the mound to some success, striking out the side in the fourth inning. Hours later, he recalled the difficulty of transitioning from a spot on the field to the mound without time to warm-up.
“I was a little cold,” he said. “I just came in and wanted to throw strikes. The arm, you’re used to getting 20 throws in. The coach told me what he wanted and I hoped for the best.”
But it wasn’t to last. The Lancers bats caught up with Grosser in the fifth, nailing single after single to bolster their lead by six runs. Grosser would eventually come out in favor of Weidmen, who ended the game on the mound.
None of T.C.’s trio of pitchers had much backing from the offense. While they made plenty of contact, they struggled to get on base. Twelve outs came in the form of fly balls. And missing senior Desmond Coursey’s plate prowess meant running T.C.’s offense without their usual spark.
Now 1-3 on the season (0-2 in conference play)Blair wants to focus on recreating the pressure of the game during practice. It’s the only way to improve, he said.
“Practice is always the obvious answer, but we’ve been practicing it for a month now,” Blair said. “We’re going to create a situation at practice that is probably a little more intense.”
Grosser is confident the Titans’ fortunes will turn around, but changes need to be made, he said.
“The time we have out here, we need to focus,” Grosser said.