In cold and rainy conditions Tuesday the Decatur Eagles (7-15, 1-3) dropped their third straight district game at home. The Sanger Indians broke up a 3-3 tie in the sixth and held on for a 4-3 victory.
A three-run home run in the top of the first ended up being the big blow from which the Eagles could not recover.
“The cold weather was not necessarily a big impact as much as the wind,” Decatur coach Chris Carter said. “I don’t think we give up the home run if the wind isn’t blowing out.
“Plus, they scored every run with two outs. They used timely hits to get their runs, and we just couldn’t get that timely hit to give ourselves a chance.”
Erik Elder got the start for Decatur and easily retired the first two batters of the game, before he walked the next two with two outs.
Wilding Smith immediately made Elder pay for the mistake, blasting the three-run shot over the center-field wall.
Decatur started chipping away in the second. Dewey Dovel led off with a double and moved to third on a foul out by Christian Carrillo. After a Clayton Egle walk, Sanger pitcher Ross Scott committed a balk allowing Dovel to score from third.
Cain Lowe delivered a two-out double to score Egle and cut the Indian lead to 3-2.
The Eagles tied the game in the third when Austin Givens scored on a pitcher’s error after he had led off the inning with a double.
Elder settled down after the first inning, shutting Sanger down for the next four frames.
“He competed and got better as the game went on,” Carter said. “He did what he has done all year, and that is give us a chance to win. We’ve just got to do a better job supporting him.”
Elder got into trouble one last time in the sixth, which cost Decatur the game.
With one out, he gave up a walk to seventh place hitter Tanner Thomas, followed by a single from Kody Adams.
Ninth-place batter Kyle Stephens connected on an RBI single to give Sanger the lead for good. Elder retired the next two batters, but the damage had already been done.
The Eagles got a couple of runners on with one out in the sixth, but once again were unable to score.
Carter knows this loss was a setback for his team, but there is still a lot of baseball to play.
“It’s not over yet,” Carter said. “We still have the second round to play. If we start playing a little differently, we can be right in the middle of the playoff race.”
Decatur was set to start the second half of district play Friday at home against Gainesville and will travel to Krum Tuesday.