The Festus Tigers played their first two games since last week’s opener on Saturday and, while they were in both games until the end, they just couldn’t pull out a victory. The Bulldogs of Fort Zumwalt South edged the Tigers 3-1 in the matinee of the double-header and then finished them off with a 7-5 victory in the second of the two games.
Despite the two losses and falling to 1-2 on the very young season, Festus did have some bright spots that they can carry with them into their next tilt. The pitching shined in the first game and the offense seemed to find its groove in the second, which typically means things are coming together. This talented Tiger team just needs to shake off a little rust before they get rolling.
The first game started off well, with Jackson Gross working a bases loaded walk to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Four batters got on via walk or hit-by-pitch in the inning, which is one way to skin a cat.
The Bulldogs tied it in the fourth, and then went on to plate two more in the following inning for a 3-1 lead. Festus fought to the end though. The pitching held FZ South scoreless the rest of the way and the Tigers got two men on in the 7th with a chance to tie it, but came up just short.
It was a valiant effort, but just not quite enough. Mason Schirmer got the start in this one and gave his team four solid innings. He allowed three runs on four hits and a walk and struck out four Bulldogs. He gave way to Cole Skaggs, who didn’t allow hit in his three innings of work, but did walk four. Walks and HBPs were an issue for the Tigers in this one, as the go-ahead and winning runs for South were direct results of multiple free passes.
Offensively there were just three hits, the highlight being a triple from Wyatt Huskey. Tyler Bizzle and Brayden Montgomery each singled in the game.
Game 2 was a close one as well. Both teams plated two runs in the first inning, with Festus’ coming via RBI-groundout and an error, from a ball off the bat of Schirmer. That 2-0 lead didn’t last long though, as three consecutive singles by the Bulldogs loaded the bases and then a catcher’s interference call and a walk knotted up the score.
Fort Zumwalt South would take over from there. They added a run in the second to take the lead and then put up back-to-back two-spots in the fourth and fifth innings. That made it 7-2 and had Festus looking for a miracle with just three outs to go.
The Tigers didn’t go quietly into the night though. Montgomery led off the 7th with a double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and then came around to score on a groundout off the bat of Trenton Young. Keeping the rally alive were Nate Moore, who was hit by a pitch, and Huskey, who drew a five-pitch walk. Jeremiah Cunningham then walked as well to load the bases, which led to a Hayden Bates sac fly.
Bizzle would follow that up with an RBI single to trim the Bulldog lead to two, but Schirmer hit a sharp grounder to second that was well played by Zumwalt and resulted in the third out of the inning. The book was closed on the Tigers with a 7-5 loss.
Montgomery got the start and pitched well in this one, with all three of his runs allowed ending up unearned. He walked three and struck out two. A combination of Tyler Reece, Cunningham and Young finished the final four innings and allowed four runs.
Offensively, Bizzle had a fantastic day at the plate with a 3-for-4 effort and a pair of RBI. Montgomery and Bates each had two hits in their combined seven at bats.
Close games are always tough to lose, but the Tigers still showed a lot of resolve this weekend and they fought to the finish. That is a testament of character that will surely translate to wins down the road. They have date with the 3-0 Central Rebels on Monday to try and get back to .500.