Errors have plagued Fort Payne all season.
What could’ve — should’ve — ended as a scoreless third inning for Scottsboro on Tuesday, turned into a 4-0 advantage. The ‘Cats of Fort Payne scored two late, but it was too late, and Fort Payne dropped its first Class 6A, Area 13 game of the season 5-2.
Fort Payne fell to 4-11 with the loss and 0-1 in Area play.
Scottsboro improved to 15-8 and 1-0.
Fort Payne head coach Johnny Johnson said starting pitcher Trey Bailey was an out away from getting out of the third inning unscathed, but Bailey botched a pickoff attempt, which advanced the runner at first to second.
What followed was a series of errors and a hit batsman, which resulted in the big inning.
Johnson said the mistakes have been characteristic of the team’s season thus far, and he said they’ve had trouble trying to dig themselves out of holes once they occur.
“Kind of like we’ve done all year, we didn’t have anybody step up and it kind of just started snowballing,” Johnson said. “We should’ve been out of that inning.
“At some point, these guys are going to have to step up and want the ball hit to them and to make a play. At some point, they are going to have enough of it and decide they are going to get aggressive and want the ball hit to them. It’s a mentality — it’s something in their heads as far as I’m concerned.”
Fort Payne was held to two runs on four hits by Scottsboro lefty Seth Engleright. Engleright struck out eight Fort Payne hitters, and Johnson said the ‘Cats had a hard time adjusting to Engleright’s windup.
“We hadn’t seen a lot of left-handed pitching,” Johnson said. “He threw with a little velocity and kind of a funky motion. He did good job of attacking the strike zone, but he didn’t have to throw a lot of pitches. It was something we didn’t adjust to until late in the game.”
Senior Cole Ibsen singled in the fifth and crossed the plate on a JC Groat single, and then Will Anderson hit a solo shot in the seventh, which gave Fort Payne its two runs.
It was too little, too late, but Johnson said he was still impressed with his team’s effort after trailing for most of the game.
“I’ll say this about this group, as bad as things have been, one thing this group has not done is quit,” Johnson said. “They keep battling in, and they are trying to find ways to get runs across. Even if we’re down big in the last inning, we’re finding ways to scratch some runs late.
“They haven’t quit, and I’m proud of them for that.”
Fort Payne traveled again to Scottsboro for a doubleheader Wednesday. The game was rescheduled from Thursday due to the threat of inclement weather.