Coach Matt Anderson didn’t know what to expect from his Blooming Grove baseball team Tuesday.

The Lions had been practicing indoors for most of the short off-season while they waited for the basketball season to end to complete their roster.

Despite the mystery — Blooming Grove beat Class 3A Eustace, 12-2, in a five-inning, mercy-rule shortened game, exceeding Anderson’s expectations for the Lions’ home and season opener.

“I’m excited. We haven’t worked a lot of offense,” Anderson said. “We’ve been working defense becase we’ve been inside so much.”

Michael Ferrell led Blooming Grove’s offense going 4-for-4 with a triple and three runs scored. Anderson’s “small-ball” offense had nine hits, but benefited most from the ineptitiude of the Bulldogs’ battery, which walked four Lions batters, hit another and had one balk. Blooming Grove also advanced runners on five wild pitches and three passed balls.

Despite Eustace’s struggles — it finished with 14 errors — the Lions’ offense still took advantage of most opportunities, stealing five bases and leaving four runners on base in the game.

“Anytime you can score 12 runs that’s a good thing, but that’s what we’re capable of,” Anderson said. “Last year we scored quite a few runs, but it’s a matter of finding a way on base and — once we get there — doing something with it.”

It was another Bulldogs’ mistake though, that ended the game, when a Lucas Cope pitch got by catcher Rusty Hart, allowing Ferrell to score from third base in the fifth inning.

The outing ended early for Scott Ackley and Ryan Jones who combined to give two runs and four hits. Both players were on the Lions basketball team and hadn’t seen much practice — the basketball season ended Feb. 13.

Jones, a power pitcher who had five strikeouts in two innings, struggled with his control at times, walking two Eustace batters. Anderson said he was pleased with Jones’ velocity and wasn’t concerned with the problems his pitcher was having this early in the season.

Anderson was impressed with Ackley, who had been practicing with his own pitching coach for the past month. The senior right-hander struck out two of the first three batters he faced. But he said he really felt comfortable after the offense got going.

“The first inning (I was nervous) a little bit,” Ackley said. “After we got up by two, I felt good.”

Blooming Grove (1-0) had eight players score at least one run. For Ferrell, who is batting 1.000, seeing Ackley and the other basketball players on the baseball roster, was equally as comforting.

“Getting the basketball players back out there really did bring our spirits up more,” Ferrell said. “(Ackley) came in and did a real good job.”

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