Defense. It can cost you games, and it can win you plenty.
For Mildred, Tuesday night’s 8-4 win over Buffalo was a little of both. On one hand, the Eagles kept pace in District 23-2A by taking advantage of seven Buffalo errors.
On the other, Mildred played flawless in the field.
“We’ve been working, working, working on defense,” said Mildred skipper Aaron Tidwell. “I don’t think we had an error all night, and it’s one of the few games we haven’t.”
Indeed, the Eagles (10-14, 7-2 in 23-2A) put up a goose-egg in the error column. It was a big reason why they doubled up the Bison (5-5 in district), who pounded out a dozen hits.
Mildred starter Connor Hill gave up 11 of them, and all four runs, but he minimized any damage. He honed his curveball late, and punched out four of the final eight hitters he faced. He had six for the game.
He was also a pitcher’s best friend at the plate, going 3 for 4 with a triple, three runs and three RBIs. Right behind him in the order, catcher Nic Shimonek was 2 for 4 with a triple, double and three RBIs.
In the fifth, Buffalo cut the lead to 3-2 on a Bryce Pauler home run. In the bottom of the inning, back-to-back one out triples by Hill and Shimonek made it 4-2 Mildred, then Clay Waller made it 5-2 with a two-out single to right.
Buffalo cut the lead to 5-4 in the sixth on three hits, chasing Hill. Freshmen lefty Justin Jenkins came in, and got a strikeout to end the inning.
After two quick outs in the bottom of the sixth, Mildred took advantage of three Buffalo errors to tack on three more runs. Hill had an RBI single, and Shimonek followed with a two-RBI double to deep center.
It was a big win over a team that used to be an almost-guaranteed victory. This year, Buffalo beat Mildred in the first half of 23-2A play.
“Buffalo is very improved from last year,” Tidwell said. “They’ve got a new coach, and it’s night and day.”
The win leaves Mildred three games ahead of the Bison with three games to play, and right with Blooming Grove and Teague, who entered Tuesday’s games with two losses each.
“I expect to win one of the last three for sure,” Tidwell said, which would clinch a playoff spot, “and we have a shot at the district title if we can win out.”
Mildred 8, Buffalo 4
Buffalo 000 022 0 – 4 12 7
Mildred 120 023 – 8 7 0
WP – Connor Hill
LP – Kyrell Miller
S – Justin Jenkins
Top Hitters – B: Trent Martin 3-3 (run, 2 RBIs), Bryce Pauler 3-4 (HR, run, 2 RBIs). M: Hill 3-4 (3B, 3 runs, 3 RBIs), Nic Shimonek 2-3 (2B, 3B, 3 RBIs), Clay Waller 1-4 (RBI), Allen Knight 1-4.
Records – Buffalo n/a, 5-5 in District 23-2A. Mildred 10-14, 7-2.