Matt Shultz

Matt Shultz hits a line drive at Spooner.

 

The Osceola Braves are on a three-game losing streak after facing three of the best teams that they will play all year. In their schedule this week, the Braves faced three teams that have a combined record of 34-9, including a team that has won five straight league championships.

The first contest was played against the Prescott Pirates, a team that came into the game with an overall record of 8-4 and had previously enjoyed success against teams that have historically been quality organizations. 

The Pirates jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning and never looked back. 

The Pirates had some help from the Braves as well, Osceola didn’t do a great job at picking off runners and allowed several stolen bases throughout the first five innings.

Errors were also an issue for the Braves against the Pirates. In the top of the fifth, a groundball was hit to the first baseman. A surefire groundout quickly turned into an error as he tossed the ball over the pitcher’s head as he was coming to cover the base. 

The runner advanced to second base and would later score on a single to right field.

The Braves lost 10-0 against the Pirates by way of the 10-run rule in seven innings. Player/Manager Brian Hronski reflected on the game.

“Our defense got a little shoddy and we got lazy on a couple plays where they took extra bases on us again. We got to be a little more aware of that,” Hronski said. 

“We have to hit better, we obviously can’t win games scoring zero, obviously that’s a little problematic. They’re a good team, I don’t want to take anything away from them,” Hronski added.

The second game of the week didn’t fare much better for the Braves. On July 12 the Braves traveled to Spooner to take on the first-place Cardinals. The Cardinals have a conference record of 7-1 and are in prime position to win the conference this year.

The action between the Cardinals and the Braves followed a similar theme to the last time they played; another 10-run rule victory for the Cardinals. However, the Braves had a legitimate shot to win late in the game.

“It was a close and competitive ball game, it was 4-1 going into the seventh inning. We just left some guys on base again and we didn’t have any clutch hitting. We had some chances and were just one hit short every time. The recent struggles have been not picking up runs when they’re presented to us,” Hronski said.

The Braves threw their ace starter, he just didn’t have his stuff. Hronski discussed the lackluster start by Brett Carlson.

“He [Brett] struggled a little bit and he hadn’t thrown in a few weeks. He just wasn’t as sharp as he normally is. He’s one of our best arms and hopefully he can get into a bit of a groove,” Hronski said.

The Cardinals tacked on several runs in the seventh inning to make it a 10-run game after the seventh. Following the loss, the Braves drop to 3-4 in conference play this year.

The final game of the week was against one of the best teams in Minnesota, the Saint Paul Capitals. The Capitals have a record of 14-3 and have won five straight league championships, along with hoisting a state championship in 2014.

Austin Beasley started the game for the Braves and pitched four complete innings while giving up three runs. Beasley’s brother, A.J., replaced Austin to start the fifth inning and pitched the rest of the game. He gave up one run in five innings of work and had Capital batters looking lost when he threw his changeup. Hronski discussed A.J. Beasley’s off-speed pitches.

“He was throwing his changeup and that’s a real neutralizing pitch. He threw his breaking ball as well, a couple of the guys who came down to first said, ‘his breaking ball is really sharp’. He was mixing in enough to keep them off balance,” Hronski said.

Despite A.J. Beasley’s dominant relief performance, it wasn’t enough for the Braves. They lost to the Capitals 4-1, ending one of the toughest weeks of their season.

The Braves have their season on the line next week with three conference games over the weekend. Their next game is at Oakey Park against the Metro Knights. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Last week’s scores

Brill 2

Hayward 4

Osceola 1

Spooner 11

Hayward 0

Spooner 10

Brill 6

Hornets 1

Knights 14

Hornets 4

Standings

Spooner 8-1

Hayward 5-3

Brill 5-4

Knights 4-5

Osceola 3-4

Hornets 0-8

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