By Rob Kiser
Call Sports Editor
Two things have to happen for the Piqua baseball team to be successful — score more than two runs and play defense.
Neither one of those is happening right now — and as a result the Indians dropped their third straight game Monday night at Hardman Field — losing 5-1 to Vandalia-Butler.
The Aviators improved to 9-6 overall and 4-1 in the GWOC North, while Piqua dropped to 6-6 overall and 1-3 in the GWOC North.
“We can’t keep putting ourselves in a hole,” Piqua coach Jared Askins said.
Askins was referring to the first inning when three Indian errors, turned a two-out, runner on first situation in to a three-run inning for Butler —with all three runs being unearned.
Jacob Naas had a RBI single in the inning, while a bases-loaded walk to Bret Bachman forced in another run.
“We stress defense — it is just a lack of focus,” Askins said. “Even if we only give up one run in that inning, we are right in the game. The way we are playing defense right now, there are not a lot of people we can beat.”
Piqua got back within 3-1 in the fourth when Buddy Nix reached on an error and scored on Derrick Gullett’s double.
But, it was the only run Piqua could manage — after scoring four runs in two games Saturday.
“I said at the beginning of the year, with our pitching — if we score four runs we are going to be hard to beat,” Askins said. “We are not doing that right now.”
Cam Gordon and Austin Reedy, who relieved Gordon in the fifth, combined for seven strikeouts and three walks.
“Cam (Gordon) starts to react to the defense and gets nit picky (with his pitches),” Askins said. “That drives his pitch count up and he has to come out in the fifth. We need our starters to get through five innings, so Austin (Reedy) can come in for the last two innings.
“That is not happening right now. Both pitchers through fine. We need to be able to make plays (on defense).”
Gordon also had a double for the Indians.
Singles by Damon Dues and Nic Martin led to a sacrifice fly by Chandler Craine in the Vandalia sixth, after a bases-loaded walk to Naas had scored a run in the fifth.
Martin was 3-for-4 to lead a seven-hit Aviator attack, while Naas had two hits and Matt Grossman doubled.
Vandalia turned two double plays defensively and Jacob Larger threw a four-hitter, striking out three and walking one.
“Their pitcher (Jacob Larger) did a great job keeping us off-balance,” Askins said. “He moved the ball up, down, in and out. You have to tip your hat to him.”
The one positive for Piqua continued to be the play of Buddy Nix behind the plate.
He threw on runner out stealing and on the one steal Vandalia had, the throw was there in time, but the ball got away.
“We have seen that from Buddy since he was a sophomore,” Askins said. “Most people don’t try and run on him, which frustrates him, because he likes to show his arm off. He is doing a great job back there.”
Piqua travels to Vandalia-Butler today, before playing Lebanon at Fifth-Third Field Thursday with a 4:30 p.m. first pitch.
Vandalia 300 011 0 — 5 7 1
Piqua 000 100 0 — 1 4 4
Larger and Slaton. Gordon, Reedy (5) and Nix. WP-Larger. LP-Gordon. 2B-Vandalia: Grossman. Piqua: Gullett, Gordon. Records: Vandalia-Butler 9-6 (4-1). Piqua 6-6 (1-3).