Mustang catcher Caden Hill waits for the ball to reach him before making a play at home plate against Van Buren last Saturday afternoon. Van Buren's Will Mertens scored on this play and added  another run as the Warriors beat Davis County in non-conference play.

The Mustang baseball team struggled with its pitching and defense during a busy opening week of the 2020 season. The Mustangs ended week one with a 15-2 loss to Van Buren in non-conference action.

Last Saturday’s game with the Warriors was the first of two meetings on the 2020 schedule between these two teams.

Pitching and defense are areas of concern for Mustang Coach Todd White at this point. Pitchers struggled against the Warriors giving up 15 runs on 13 hits in this game. The Mustang defense also committed three costly errors, which helped the Warriors take control of this game in the early innings.

Van Buren found some consistency in its offensive attack against the Mustangs. The Warriors jumped on the Mustangs early with a two-run home run in the top of the first inning. Jonah Heckenberg got the rally started with a single to left. Ryan Wolf hit a line drive over the right-center field fence to give the Warriors the lead.

The Mustangs started out the game with a double from Clay Collier that bounced off the fence in left field. Collier reached second easily on the play, but it didn’t turn out so well for the Warriors.

Van Buren left fielder Corey Bunnell took off chasing after the fly ball that Collier hit. Bunnell wasn’t aware how close he was to the outfield fence and hit the fence at a full running speed. Bunnell went down in pain and didn’t get up. Eventually, Bunnell was carried off on a stretcher as the Davis County EMS was called in to transport Bunnell to the hospital to treat injuries he suffered in the collision with the fence.

Play was stopped for approximately a half hour to tend to Bunnell’s injuries, but when play resumed, the Mustangs went back to work. Caedyn Glosser grounded out to second, which allowed Collier to advance to third. After a strikeout, a Dalton Reeves double off the left field wall brought Collier in to score. The Mustangs trailed just 2-1 going into the second inning.

Van Buren took advantage of two Mustang errors in the second to open up the score. A leadoff single and an error put two runners on. Two more hits started the Warriors around the bases. A pair of walks didn’t help the Mustang defense as Van Buren pushed its lead to 6-2 with that rally.

Davis County kept putting the ball in play but couldn’t get it past the Van Buren defenders. Caden Hill, Kaleb Wagler and Hunter Bell all gave the Mustangs a chance in the bottom of the second. Hill and Wagler both grounded out on balls hit to the left side of the infield while Bell’s long fly ball was caught in right field to end the inning.

A two-out rally by the Warriors put more runs on the board. Davis County benefited from a strikeout and a ground out to Dawson Townsend at second base. Then an error and a pair of walks issued to Van Buren batters caused things to go against the Mustangs once again. An RBI double from Tanner Bainbridge scored two runners. The Mustangs made a play at third base to end the inning after Van Buren pushed its lead to 8-1.

The Mustang third inning was cut short by a 5-3 Van Buren double play. Glosser reached base with a walk. Noah Zmolek followed and hit a hard lined shot toward left field. Van Buren third baseman Taylor Sprouse reached up and snagged that ball out of the air. Unfortunately, Glosser was caught off first base on the play and was thrown out to end the inning.

Van Buren sent 12 batters to the plate in the fourth inning. One batter was struck with a pitch. Van Buren pounded out five hits in the inning. Two batters walked and the Warriors plated six more runs in the rally. They added another in the fifth on an RBI single to pound out 15 runs against the Mustang defense.

The Mustangs kept battling despite the huge deficit they were faced with. In bottom of the fourth, Gavin McCall’s long fly ball cleared the left field fence for a solo home run. That cut Van Buren’s lead to 14-2 at that point. Carson Maeder followed with a double up the middle. Daytona Bradley followed with a walk but both base runners were left stranded on the bases at the end of the inning.

Davis County was retired in order in the bottom of the fifth inning as they were forced to suffer the 15-2 loss.

Score            R H E

VB    242    61    15 13 0

DC    100    10    2    4  3

Pitching—Noah Zmolek, (L), 2 innings, 6 runs, 5 hits, 3 strikeouts and 3 walks. Carson Maeder, 1.2 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 3 strikeouts and 1 walk. Kaleb Wager, 1.0 innings, 7 runs, 4 hits, 1 strikeout and 3 walks. Caden Hill, 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 strikeouts and 0 walks. Daytona Bradley, 1 inning, 1 run, 2 hits, 0 strikeouts and 1 walk.

Hits—Collier, 1; McCall, 1; Reeves, 1 and Maeder, 1.

RBI—McCall, 1 and Reeves, 1.