PANAMA CITY — Where the game ended up being played almost seemed as important as where it ended up on the scoreboard.
Except that this was Rutherford and Mosley in baseball on Saturday afternoon, and in revamped District 1-5A. Never mind that Mosley’s 5-3 victory eventually was achieved on Bay’s William Weeks Field, of all places.
More importantly, it enabled the Dolphins to remain unbeaten at 8-0 and 4-0 in the district. Rutherford is 4-2, 3-2, with both losses to Mosley, the Class 6A state runner-up last season.
Mosley’s home game was postponed from Friday, and initially was expected to be shifted to Bozeman because of spongy outfield conditions at Harry Frank Field. Late Saturday morning it was moved closer in town to Bay because some athletes for both schools were taking the college-entrance ACT test in the morning, Mosley coach Todd Harless said.
It seemed as though Rutherford didn’t get wind of the switch until it was too late. The Rams made five errors in the first three innings as Mosley rather easily claimed a 5-0 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Oh, the Dolphins had their moments in a game where all but two of the eight runs were unearned. Freshman reliever Weston Bizzle settled down after a rocky sixth inning to pitch a 1-2-3 seventh and Mosley maintained its district dominance.
“They’re a scrappy team, they’re not going to give up,” Harless said of the Rams. “We have to teach our guys to stay focused the entire game and not give them a glimmer of hope, or they’re capable of coming up with a big hit at any time.
“It’s rare that you see a Mosley team make three errors.”
Indeed, according to statistics on Maxpreps the Dolphins entered the game with only two errors in seven previous games. After capitalizing on Rutherford’s generosity, Mosley showed similar signs of starting to implode beginning with the fourth inning.
Winning pitcher Andrew Deramo, who had breezed through three innings needing only 29 pitches, suddenly walked three batters in the fourth and Jeremy Leno’s infield hit scored Tyler Broxson with the Rams’ first run.
Mosley contributed two errors when the Rams scored twice after Bizzle entered to open the sixth. The first was when Bizzle couldn’t pick up Kendall Herron’s bunt after Leno had coaxed a one-out walk.
Following a force at second, when Mosley just missed turning a double play, A.J. Thornton’s slow roller went for the Rams’ third infield hit of the game and third baseman Dillon Brown threw past first.
Herron came around to score, and Dakota McWilliams, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, later scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-3.
Bizzle got the next four outs, starting with the top of the order, ending the game on a called third strike.
“What our cornerstone is is pitching and defense, and not striking out,” Harless said.
Rutherford had only three hits, and Mosley fanned five times against starter and loser Heath Holmes and reliever Nick Nelson, who came on with two outs in the second inning.
“I have no idea who that team was,” Rutherford coach Jon Hudson said after the Rams had thrown the ball around like a youth league team. “I thought (Mosley) played pretty good baseball.
“Early in games we’re spotting opponents too many runs. They have to be ready to play. I don’t know what the problem is, but we need to fix it.”
Mostly they were lapses in fundamentals. Holmes threw away Bo McGuffin’s tapper to the mound with one out in the first inning and Clay Causey drilled a double for a 1-0 lead.
One out later Dillon Brown walked, and freshman Brendan Fox reached on a third strike in the dirt when Leno failed to tag Fox or throw to first to secure the third out of the inning. Sean Maddox grounded a double inches inside the third-base bag and it was 3-0.
Brady Bell singled with one out in the second, moved up when Herron made a good play in the shortstop hole to get McGuffin, and barely beat Nelson’s throw to the plate when Connor Green grounded a single into right field.
An inning later, with Nelson now on the mound, Fox walked and came around when Rutherford unraveled as Nelson, Leno and Dallas Davis all made errors on the infield.
Mosley had eight hits, only the third time this season it has been held to less than 10, two of those times by Rutherford. McGuffin was the lone player for either team with two hits, and had one of Mosley’s three doubles.
Rutherford 000 102 0 — 3 3 5
Mosley 311 000 X — 5 8 3
Holmes (L), Nelson (2) and Leno; Deramo (W), Bizzle (6) and Bizzle, Bell (6).
LOB: Rutherford 7, Mosley 7. E: Rutherford 5 (Leno 2, Holmes, Davis, Nelson), Mosley 3 (Brown 2, Bizzle). DP: Mosley 4-6-3. 2B: Mosley (Causey, Maddox, McGuffin). WP: Rutherford (Nelson), Mosley (Deramo, Bizzle). HBP: Reese (by Deramo). RBIs: Rutherford (Leno), Mosley (Maddox 2, Causey, Green).