AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy – Sigonella baseball coach Matt McKown summed it up fairly succinctly.
“At this level, it’s pretty much whichever team doesn’t make the most errors,” he said after watching his Jaguars play a doubleheader Saturday against the Aviano Saints.
In other words, any ball in play can be an adventure.
So Aviano sophomore Ryan Perran came up with a solution of sorts: strike everybody out. Perran accounted for almost every out in a 6-5 victory to open up the day’s play. He recorded 13 strike outs and fielded a grounder and threw it to first. The only other out the Saints recorded came on a grounder to second.
That’s not to say the Jaguars lacked base runners in the first game or the second – a 10-8 Aviano triumph. Sigonella got six hits off Perran and walked four times. But Perran’s effort meant that coach Laura Corder’s team was successful in half the doubleheader with one of its goals.
“We’re trying to cut our errors down,” she said. And the Saints made only one error while Perran was striking everyone out.
Sigonella could have used a few more strikeouts of its own. Tied at 3-3, the Saints took advantage of a Sigonella error to go up by a run in the third. Scott Henshaw and Spencer Ridgway both drove in runs in the fourth to put Aviano up 6-3.
Gunnar Smith’s two-run single brought Sigonella close in the fifth and the Jaguars loaded the bases. But Perran struck out the final two batters to end it.
The story was much the same in the second game – minus all the strikeouts – with each team getting plenty of baserunners and opportunities to score.
Aviano took advantage of a couple of mental errors by the Jaguars that didn’t count as physical errors to score five times in the opening inning. One ball dropped in the outfield that should have been caught, but it was misjudged. And everyone was safe on a fielder’s choice when there was a miscommunication on covering second.
But Aviano committed five errors of its own in the game and Sigonella again clawed back. Three of those errors, Jake Britton’s two-run single and four walks helped the Jaguars score five times in the fourth and put the tying runs on base. But the game ended with a Sigonella runner getting thrown out at third in a close play.
McKown and his charges didn’t seem too upset. “Two great baseball games,” he said.
“I wish we could play these kind of games every weekend,” he said to Corder while walking away.