LOUISVILLE - Coaches say it all the time with varying degrees of meaning. Coaching lexicon is filled with variations of 'they made the plays and we didn't.'
On Friday night at the end of the Sixth Region Baseball Championship game, Bullitt East head coach Jeff Bowles could say that with meaning. His team made six errors, including three in one inning, as the Chargers dropped a 3-0 decision to Pleasure Ridge Park.
It was the third trip to the regional final in the last five seasons for Bullitt East where they are 1-2. Both of the losses have come to Pleasure Ridge Park. In fact, the Chargers have reached the Sixth Region semi-finals in each of the past six seasons. Four of the five losses at that level have come to the Panthers.
The two schools don't traditionally play each other during the regular season. Overall, Bullitt East has not beaten the Panthers since joining the Sixth Region for the 2006 season.
The Chargers didn't win on Friday because of shoddy defense, something that really has not been a problem this spring. But the red and gold committed six errors in this game including three in the third inning when the Panthers scored the only runs of the game. They did that without a hit.
"Against good teams you cannot give them extra outs," Bowles said after all the hardware had been handed out at the end of the tournament. "We didn't do that.
"Plus, we didn't take advantage of our chances early," the coach added. "We could have been ahead early and put the pressure on them."
Teams that come into post-season contests with 34-6 records haven't made a lot of mistakes during the season.
"That's very uncharacteristic for us," Bowles said. "We haven't done that all year. We made some errors, but nothing like this. It's taxing on our pitchers. We did a good job pitching around our mistakes for the most part."
The one weakness for the Chargers this season has been at the plate and those woes surfaced again as Bullitt East collected just two hits off Pleasure Ridge Park senior starter Andrew Bramley who pitched a complete game. Bramley got stronger as the game went on as Bullitt East had five base runners in the first three innings, but then only one over the final four frames.
Bramley finished with 11 strikeouts to go along with the two hits. He did walk four batters.
"It really makes it that much more amazing that we won 34 games and we don't really smash it," Bowles said of the team's hitting. "We hung in there with our defense and we pitched it well."
Bullitt East really had the wind taken out of their sails when the roof caved in during the bottom of the third inning. PRP did not get the ball out of the infield and did not have a hit, but scored three times.
Bullitt East starting pitcher Bradley Johnson had worked out of some minor jams in the first two innings, but then walked lead-off hitter Josh Beams to start the third. The next batter, Cody Strong, laid down a bunt and Bullitt East catcher Hunter Wood stumbled picking up the ball, throwing high to first, allowing the runners to move up to third and second.
That brought freshman Alex Miller to the plate and he hit a shot to the left of second baseman Austin Money. Money got his glove on the ball, but it then rolled away, allowing the first run to score.
Johnson then got a strikeout of the clean-up batter, but then catcher Joseph Hatcher laid down a perfect bunt that Johnson had to field and get the out at first base as Strong scored. The third run then scored when Jacob Clair hit a ball to third baseman Brett Hatfield, but the throw to first was wide.
Bowles opted to pitch junior Jacob Woodruff in the fourth inning and he worked into the sixth inning. Zac Ching came in and faced just one batter who hit into a double play.
Bullitt East had two golden chances to score first only to fail to come up with the big hit with runners in scoring position.
In the top of the second inning, Trevor Gonzalez drove a ball deep to right centerfield that ended up bouncing over the fence. At first, Gonzalez circled the bases before he had to return to second base. The next batter, Adam Howell, laid down a bunt that turned into a hit, putting runners on the corners with no outs.
With Josh Stearns at the plate, Hatcher had a ball glance off his glove and roll away. Howell darted to second, but Gonzalez opted to stay at third. Both ended up stranded as the bottom three in the Charger line-up had two strikeouts and a fly ball to centerfield.
An inning later, Bramley walked the top two batters in the Charger line-up, Tyler Minogue and Money. That brought Wood to the plate. The top hitter for Bullitt East this time hit into a double play and Minogue was stranded at third when Alex Richardson grounded out.
That was it as far as offense went for the Chargers. The only baserunner for the red and gold over the last four innings was Minogue who walked with two outs in the fifth inning.
"I'll tell them not to let this spoil our season," Bowles said as he walked toward his team for a post-game meeting. "We have battled and fought hard in the district tournament and the first two games here. I don't want this one game to define this group. All the teams in the state but one lose their last game."
Pleasure Ridge Park will advance to this week's Kentucky State Tournament in Lexington where they will take on Newport Central Catholic in the final first-round game at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
After the winning and runner-up trophies were presented, there were awards for 14 players on the Sixth Region All-Tournament team.
Representing Bullitt East in that group were three juniors - Woodruff, Wood and Jonathan Recktenwald. North Bullitt junior Clayton Kelly was also named to the honor squad.