BY HARRISON TARR
FOR THE OBSERVER
There are a plethora of ways for players, coaches and fans to experience disappointment in the world of sports; the possibility of heartbreak is part of the reason so many individuals find themselves deeply invested in their favorite teams. Losing is never fun, dilapidated leads are hard to watch and leaving an outcome in the hands of officials is downright painful.
Members of the Beauregard baseball program experienced all three of these in the span of 24 hours on Friday when the Hornets saw their season come to an end at the hands of Andalusia in the first round of the AHSAA playoffs.
“The first game, it started out good,” said head coach Seth Nolen. “We jumped up 2-0 in the top of the third and then they scored one and it kind of turned into death by a thousand cuts. They started putting it in play and it was kind of hitting it where we weren’t.”
The skipper noted that — not only were the Bulldogs efficiently putting the ball in play — the blue and gold seemingly had no answer to their counterparts.
“We left some guys on base and never really could get the big hit in the first game,” Nolen said.
Despite his offense’s inability to push runs across the plate, Nolen acknowledged that Andalusia simply outplayed the Hornets.
“They — really — they just beat us in the first game,” Nolen said. “8-2, we never could get the offense going and it just is what it is.”
Although the second contest ultimately showed a similar result, the head coach noted that most of Beauregard’s wounds were self-inflicted.
“Errors had kind of been our bug-a-boo earlier in the year,” Nolen said. “Well, they jumped back on us in the second game. We made nine errors in the second game, gave them six unearned runs and wound up getting beat 8-7.”
Even after committing seven errors through just five frames, the blue and gold were still in a position to secure a victory and extend the series.
“We were down 7-1 going to the fifth inning,” Nolen said. “We scored four, made it 7-5, held them in the sixth, left some runners on in the sixth and they scored one in the top of the seventh.”
As one might expect given the early game showing, the Andalusia run came via yet another plague of defensive falters; the Hornets were not done battling back.
“We made a couple of errors that allowed that run to score,” Nolen said. “In the bottom of the seventh, we got a few hits, put some pressure on them and before you know it, it’s 8-7 with the bases loaded and two outs.”
Per Nolen, the opportunity to tie game two was there; his three-hole hitter left the game in the hands of the umpire.
“Our three hole hitter was at the plate,” Nolen said. “The umpire winds up ringing him up on a 3-2 count on a ball that was a good foot into the other batters box. So that’s kind of how it ended for us.”
With the season effectively brought to a close, the skipper was given the opportunity to tell his squad how proud he was of them. He chose to commend their remarkable ability to combat adversity.
“I told them after the game, we had some adversity,” Nolen said. “Some was self-inflicted, but some that you couldn’t control. You had to regroup and move on; and we did. This bunch, they always seemed to answer the bell.”
Nolen’s appreciation for his guys’ desire to press on regardless of the situation was clear.
“Every challenge, everything we laid out before them, they always seemed to answer it,” Nolen said. “We played some really good baseball and did a lot of really good things. It was a fun bunch. They never gave up, they always battled.”
The 2022 chapter in the book of Beauregard baseball history has effectively come to a close; players now have time to rest up and prepare for summer ball, coaches can take time off before looking to 2023 and fans can utilize the dead period to recharge their emotions before next year’s campaign; this group has effectively left its legacy.