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Bumpy opening week does little to deter Polk Middle’s baseball expectations

An 0-2 start has done nothing to diminish John Ruth’s optimism about this year’s Polk County Middle School baseball team.

“I think that if the eighth graders tighten up in the field and our young pitching staff continues to pitch well, we should have a pretty good season,” said the Polk County head coach.

The Wolverines capped the opening week of the 2014 season on Thursday with a 9-5 loss at Brevard Middle School. What the final score doesn’t show, though, is that Polk County led much of the game, up 5-2 entering the bottom of the fourth and still holding a 5-4 lead in the fifth.

But a handful of errors led to Brevard’s comeback; by game’s end, only five of the nine Blue Devil runs were earned. That continued a trend begun in the team’s season-opening 13-1 loss to Waynesville Middle.

Cleaning up those miscues is a priority right now for Ruth and his squad.

“I told the team after (the Brevard loss) that we had started last year 0-2 to these same two teams and so I wasn’t overly concerned yet,” Ruth said. “But we do need to cut down on our errors, especially in tight games, because that is the difference between winning and losing. Our errors that we have been making in our first two games have been mostly coming from our eighth graders. They will have to tighten up in order for us to be successful this year.

“We did improve from the Waynesville game, but the untimely errors in the (fourth) that gave them two runs and let them back in the game was really the turning point. It would have been 5-2 entering the (fifth) instead of 5-4.”

Polk Middle rapped out eight hits on Thursday and displayed signs of what Ruth feels can be a solid offense this season. Wilson Edwards led the team offensively the first week, going a combined 3-for-5 in the two games, with hits and runs scored in both games and stealing three bases. Polk County had seven stolen bases in its first two games.

Holden Owens had two hits Thursday and drove in a pair of runs, with Tyler Harris also adding two hits and an RBI. Edwards, Owens and Harris form the middle of the Wolverine batting order.

“The offense did improve, especially my three, four and five batters, which obviously is very important,” Ruth said.

Owens started the season opener against Waynesville, with Avery Edwards starting against Brevard. Tyler Harris, Clark Phipps and Brandon Ridings also saw time on the mound.

The Wolverines are scheduled to return to action on Monday at Rugby Middle, then return home to host Bethel Middle on Thursday.

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