Pitman baseball finally found its groove against Merced on Friday, earning a 8-2 win and avoiding a series sweep.
The Pride were coming off two of their most inconsistent games of the year earlier in the week, having lost to Merced in back-to-back contests to begin league at 0-2.
Looking to avoid an 0-3 start in the Central California Conference, Pitman resuscitated its offense and overcome a barrage of errors in the previous two games to finally pick up the first league win of the year after.
“We made way too many mental mistakes in the first two games. When you give teams extra chances, teams will capitalize and they got the best of us,” said Pitman's Matt Carrigg. “We just tried to avoid the 0-3 start and didn't want that to happen to us.”
Sophomore Brett Hagens, in only his second start, picked up his first official win of the year after tossing six innings.
“Brett Hagen showed what he is capable of out there today. This was a very big game for us today and he rose to the occasion,” said Pitman head coach John Acha.
Hagen allowed just one unearned run on six hits while striking out eight after throwing 104 pitches for the game.
Even the defense picked up the pace of the game and committed fewer errors than in their previous outings combined.
Merced committed three errors as opposed to Pitman's two.
“Merced may have had us off balance at first but our guys made the adjustments and came through in the clutch,” said Acha.
The top three hitters in the lineup each added a pair of hits for the Pride on Friday.
Colton Evans, AJ Encalade and Carrigg each added two hits and had at least one RBI or more each.
“We lost two early and it was a wakeup call and we knew we had to play Pitman baseball. The start was slow, but we all did a great job as well and just playing good ball,” said Carrigg who finished with a 2 for 4 effort and drove in two.
Carrigg also came in to close out the seventh with a shutout inning after striking out two and allowing a single hit.
“We were able to take away as many mental mistakes and play good defense. Defense wins games and we know what we need to do to compete and win and we're ready now,” said Carrigg.
Encalade started the rally and drove in the first run of the ball game in the bottom of the third after Carrigg jacked up a deep RBI triple that hit the left center wall.
Carrigg scored on a pass ball on the next pitch to take a 2-0 lead and the Pride never trailed for the remainder of the game.
“We were very hungry for a win and wanted to compete and hit the ball and play better defense and we did,” Carrigg added.
Catcher Omar Onate also played a pivotal role for the game said Acha.
Onate was 1 for 3 from the plate and drove in a run.
“Omar Onate was a key piece to winning this game. He worked his butt off behind the dish,” Acha added.
The next game for the Pride will be on the road at Atwater at 4 p.m. Tuesday.