COLUMBIA — The ball was in the dirt. Jacob Schmidt's head was down. A Liberty North High School player was stepping across home plate.
It should have been an out. But Schmidt, Rock Bridge High School's senior catcher, took his eye off the ball and it slipped out of his mitt. It's one of the most basic tenants of the sport: Keep your eye on the ball.
Rock Bridge played two games on Saturday. Early in the first game, Bruins coach Justin Towe paced across the dugout and told his players, "It's the little things that matter. The little things make big things." Rock Bridge did a lot of little things wrong, and it ended with two losses in a disappointing day for the home team.
The No. 8 Bruins' first loss was against No. 6 Liberty North.
In the fifth inning, with the score tied 2-2, Liberty North racked up four runs. The Eagles added another three in the sixth and four more in the seventh for a 13-4 walloping of the Bruins.
The Rock Bridge players were just a bit off throughout the game.
Schmidt was set up a few inches too far back in his stance behind the plate. The shortstop and second baseman set up a tad too wide, allowing an RBI grounder to slip through the gap. The four pitchers Rock Bridge used couldn't quite hit their spots.
The little mistakes accumulated in a large disparity on the scoreboard.
"It's the little things, like being able to throw strikes with your secondary pitches. You have to be able to throw all your pitches," Towe said. "The other little things come in when heads start dropping and minds start wandering a bit. We're a young team and we've got a lot of growing up to do."
But the day wasn't over. Rock Bridge had a three-hour break before taking on Staley High School. This time, the Bruins cleaned up their game, but still lost 5-2.
After falling behind 2-0 after the first two innings, the Bruins stayed upbeat. Rock Bridge fought back with a two-run sixth inning to tie the game.
The two teams battled all the way into the 11th inning, when Staley grabbed the game with a three-run triple.
Despite losing it late, Towe saw improvement in his players between the two games. He said he has a young team with a lot of room for growth.
"The good thing about baseball is you've got another day to try to get better," Towe said. "You have to have short term memory."
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