Shaky bullpen costly in ugly Tu­atara loss

Waikato Times - - Employment - David Long

The Auck­land Tu­atara paid a heavy price for be­ing un­able to drive in runs and hav­ing a shaky bullpen yesterday.

The Tu­atara lost 9-1 in the open­ing clash of a four-game se­ries against Syd­ney Blue Sox at McLeod Park in West Auck­land.

It was ar­guably the most frus­trat­ing loss of the eight de­feats the Tu­atara have had this sea­son as they had the bases loaded three times.

But each time they couldn’t get any runs in from be­ing in the dream sit­u­a­tion, while when Syd­ney had the same sce­nario, Zac Shep­herd hit a grand slam.

The game ended up as a blowout with Jimmy Boyce get­ting the loss. It was un­for­tu­nate for him – not only did he not get any run sup­port, but pitched well over six in­nings, giv­ing up five hits and two runs.

Boyce has no wins and three losses this sea­son, which doesn’t re­flect how well the 21-year-old New Zealan­der has pitched.

His team hasn’t bat­ted well when he’s pitched. In his three losses, the Tu­atara have scored a to­tal of six runs.

‘‘It hap­pens, there are days that we throw badly and let them down, so it goes both ways,’’ Boyce said.

‘‘I didn’t feel great with my fast­ball to­day, so I was try­ing to lo­cate it and make good pitches.’’

Boyce did strug­gle in his first game of the sea­son, but has pitched well since then has set­tled in well at the Tu­atara.

‘‘I feel pretty good and good about go­ing into the next cou­ple of games,’’ he said. ‘‘The body is get­ting in shape now to go that dis­tance and it’s all about keep get­ting those outs.’’

But af­ter Boyce left the game and the Tu­atara delved into their bullpen, they fell apart, with Ry­ota Oku­moto giv­ing up three runs from 0.1 in­nings and Yuki Harada cough­ing up four runs from the rest of a hor­ren­dous sev­enth in­ning.

Pitch­ers were on top early, es­pe­cially Alex Maestri for the Blue Sox, who struck out the first three Tu­atara bat­ters (he struck out nine over the game).

But South African Gift Ngoepe for the Blue Sox, who played for the Blue Jays in the MLB this year, hit a lead­off triple at the top of the sec­ond.

Ngoepe was driven in later in the in­ning by Shep­herd as Syd­ney went into a 1-0 lead.

In the fourth, the Tu­atara had the bases loaded with no outs, but they got noth­ing from it, with Zach Clark and Guiyian Xu strik­ing out, then Taylor Sny­der popped the ball up to left field.

Dwayne Kemp hit a home run in the sixth to dou­ble Syd­ney’s to­tal and in the bot­tom half of that in­ning Max Brown walked, Kris Richards got a hit with a ball just over the sec­ond base­man’s head and Zach Clark was walked.

So the Tu­atara had the basses loaded for the sec­ond time, but again came away empty-handed.

In the sev­enth in­ning it was the Blue Sox’s turn to have the bases loaded and pitcher Harada walked in a run.

Daniel Lamb-Hunt made an er­ror tak­ing a ball at third base, then Harada threw a wild pitch.

Later in the in­ning, Shep­herd hit the first grand slam against the Tu­atara in the club’s short his­tory as Syd­ney went up 9-0.

That was as good as game over, but there was one small pos­i­tive note in the eighth in­ning, when for­mer Pitts­burgh Pi­rates pitcher John Holdzkom went well in his first game for al­most three years, with two strike outs.

‘‘He was awe­some. It was great to see him back out on the mound,’’ Boyce said of Holdzkom.

‘‘It looked like the ball was com­ing out pretty good and he got a cou­ple of strike outs, it was a good day for John.’’

In the bot­tom of the ninth, with the Tu­atara us­ing their de­vel­op­ment play­ers, they did man­age to get a run, al­though it came from an er­ror.

The teams play twice to­day, start­ing at 12pm and 3pm, while the fi­nal game will be­gin at 3pm to­mor­row.

Jimmy Boyce was the los­ing pitcher as the Tu­atara were beaten by the Syd­ney Blue Sox.

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