Cougars zapped by Zeps

NEW MATAMORAS – Tanner Moore’s bases clearing triple highlighted a four-run fourth inning as the visiting Shenandoah Zeps made up a three-run deficit en route to an 8-3 Pioneer Valley Conference win over the Frontier Cougars Wednesday evening.

Shenandoah sent eight hitters to the plate in the pivotal fourth inning and then turned things over to left hander Ryan Lovette to notch just its second win of the young season.

Lovette entered the game in the first inning with the bases loaded and his team already trailing by three runs and promptly retired the next three Cougar hitters without allowing another run to cross the plate.

“We tried to get some innings out of one of our younger pitchers and he got in a little trouble early,” said Zeps head coach John Lovette of starting pitcher Dakota Trenner. “We were forced to bring in Ryan (Lovette) earlier than we hoped to but he did a great job.”

All Lovette did was toss seven shutout innings while allowing three hits and holding the Cougars offense at bay to give his team a chance to comeback.

After Frontier starting pitcher Mitch Minder stranded a pair of Shenandoah base runners, the Cougars scored three times while collecting just one base hit.

Cody Mendenhall and Minder opened the game by drawing bases on balls and senior center fielder Drew Schneider singled sharply through the left side of the Shenandoah infield to load the bases.

A pair of Shenandoah errors allowed the three Cougar runners to cross the plate and also proved to be the end of a very short day on the mound for Trenner as John Lovette elected to bring Ryan in to pitch.

The senior south paw limited the damage by retiring the next three Cougar hitters in order to end the inning.

The Zeps got a pair of those runs back in the top of the third when Jeremy King reached base on one of five Cougar errors committed in the game, moved into scoring position on a Devin Appold single, and both runners scored on the second Frontier miscue of the inning.

The fourth inning started well for Minder and the Cougars when Jacob Rossiter bounced out to shortstop but Dalton Wray, Jacob Warner and King each collected base hits to load the bases.

Minder got ahead in the count to Moore, but the Shenandoah catcher drilled an 0-2 pitch over the left fielder’s head allowing all three runners to cross the plate to give the Zeps a 5-3 lead.

First baseman Kaleb Thompson brought Moore in from third base with a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to three.

From there on it was all Lovette as the senior south paw shut down the Cougars, fanning nine hitters along the way.

“He (Lovette) kept them off the bases and that allowed us to relax and play a decent game of baseball,” said Coach Lovette, in his first year as Shenandoah skipper.

The Zeps added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh, once again with a little help from a Cougar defense that made two more errors.

“Mitch Minder pitched good enough to win once again, we just made too many mistakes behind him,” said Cougar head coach Erin Curtis, in his third season as Frontier head coach. “We have just got to make the routine plays in order to compete and right now we are not.”

The Cougars managed to get a pair of base runners on in the last of the seventh when Minder walked and Schneider collected his second single, but Lovette finished things off when he induced Lane Curtis to ground out to end the game.

Shenandoah improved to 2-6 with the win, while the Cougars slipped to 1-6.

Both teams are scheduled to return to action today when Frontier hosts Buckeye Trail and the Zeps welcome Coshocton to Sarahsville.