Prospect League

Hoots struggle defensively in loss to Aviators

By FRANK CASH
Sports Writer | 217-223-5100
sports@whig.com | @WhigSports
Posted: Jun. 13, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Jun. 14, 2018 1:10 am

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Clayton Hicks hasn't been too excited about the approach the Hannibal Hoots have taken lately.

"We're kind of stuck in that Cadillac and country club mentality," said Hicks, the Hoots' manager. "Sure, I can't stand losing but we need to see some better performances. If we get that, maybe we'll have a better team environment."

The Hoots didn't help themselves in the field Wednesday night. Hannibal made five errors during a 7-1 Prospect League loss to Lafayette at Clemens Field.

"The scoreboard had four errors, you had five and I had us with six," Hicks said. "But we have to clean a lot of that up. We beat ourselves tonight."

Hannibal (4-9) scored its only run in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Hoots trailed 2-0 when Aaron Goecks hit an infield single with one out. Third baseman Zach Heeke's throw sailed over first baseman Bryce Ball's head, giving Goecks plenty of time to go to third base.

Goecks scored when the next batter, Sam Nozicka, hit a sacrifice fly.

"Our offense isn't exactly clicking right now and sometimes the way you have to score runs is what we did (in the fifth)," said Goecks, a right fielder from SIU-Edwardsville. "We got an opportunity there and we took advantage of it. We need to start create more chances for us to score."

The Hoots were still within striking distance entering the ninth inning, trailing 4-1.

The Aviators (3-10) led off with a single by Jordy Libman, who scored when Ben Tharp doubled.

Hannibal reliever Jonny Steiner replaced Richie Well on the mound and walked Jason Cryar. After striking out Matthew Patton, Steiner gave up an RBI sacrifice fly to Kevin Dobos. Brady Huebbe followed with a double to score Cryar for a 7-1 lead.

"We got a little frustrated in the ninth," Hicks said. "If we had taken care of some situations earlier in the game, maybe that wouldn't have happened."

Hicks was pleased with the effort of starting pitcher Dylan Dodd. The left-hander from Kankakee Community College pitched only four innings after throwing 68 pitches. He didn't allow Lafayette to score until the fourth.

"Dylan has done everything he has needed to do for us so far this season. He's been great," Hicks said. "We could've used him a little longer but we want to save as many bullets from him as we can. We need to find a way to limit some of his pitches so we'll still have him at the end of the season."

Hannibal plays Quincy the next two nights at 6:35 p.m. Thursday's game will be at Clemens Field and on Friday, they will play at QU Stadium.

The teams played on June 1 with the Gems winning 7-2.

"We approach every game like it's a big game but games against Quincy are a little bit bigger," Goecks said. "Some of the guys on both teams know each other and it's a fun atmosphere. They will be good tests for us. We're looking forward to it."

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