The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

March 14, 2013

Union challenge for Plainsmen

ENID, Okla. — The Enid baseball team had a bumpy start to its district schedule last weekend, dropping both games in a home-and-home against No. 2 Jenks by a combined 26-1 margin.

It gets easier on Friday, but not much.

Already 2-5 and 0-2 in 6A-4 after the Jenks sweep, the Plainsmen welcome fellow district rival No. 7 Tulsa Union for a twinbill scheduled for 6 tonight at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.

Zeke Sarver (0-1) will start the opener, and Jerry Kearney (1-1), the only Plainsmen pitcher to earn a win in a start this season, will pitch the nightcap against the Redskins (5-2, 4-1 6A-4).

“We’re putting the best guys out there we can (in) Sarver and Kearney, and the best lineup we can, which we always try to do all the time anyway,” said Enid coach Bill Mayberry said. “When you play the big four — Union, Jenks, Owasso, Broken Arrow — I don’t know if our district is any tougher or any easier than another one, but Union and Jenks back-to-back, that’s a chore.”

Enid won its home opener at David Allen last week, beating Putnam City 8-2 behind Kearney’s five-inning, nine-strikeout heroics, but the Plainsmen have held opponents to fewer than three runs only twice, while surrendering an average of nine runs.

Only Kearney (2.00) and Jackson Walker (1.24) have posted ERAs below seven, and the Plainsmen have walked 35 batters compared to 22 strikeouts.

Sarver has given up 17 runs, 12 of them earned, in 6 1/3 innings, a mark that likely will have to improve to stave-off a three-game district losing streak against Union, which is averaging 11 runs per game.

“We just need to go out and play,” Sarver said. “Everybody knows that. I mean, district games are big and all, but it’s just another game. We have to take it day by day. You can’t think too far ahead.”

Enid’s defense, a season-long bugaboo in 2012, continues to nag the Plainsmen early in 2013. In seven games, Enid has made 22 errors.

Mayberry said the warmer weather has given the team more opportunities to tweak its defense on an actual diamond. Jake Walker is slated to move to left field, while Cole Floyd shifts to first base, among other potential shakeups.

“A lot of times you have to regress to progress a little bit,” Mayberry said. “We’ve had to do that some. The medicine doesn’t always taste good.”

Shifts aside, Kearney said the team isn’t panicking.

“Just go hard in practice and do what coach tells you to do,” he said.

The games can be heard on KCRC Radio (1390 AM).

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