RICHLAND - Following the Hodgen Distributing Legion baseball team's one-run effort against Hanford Tuesday, the Red Bulls have scored just four runs in the first three games of the season and coach Greg Whitten has no idea why.
Against Hanford's pair of pitchers, Hodgen could muster only three hits, and was hitless until the seventh inning, losing 3-1 in a nine-inning game.
"We're just not hitting the ball and it's pretty frustrating," Whitten said. "We're not swinging with confidence, we're not taking aggressive swings, we're really tentative and act like we haven't seen curveballs before. It's not just one or two guys, it's up and down the lineup, and we're just in a deep funk."
Hodgen finally tied the game in the top of the eighth inning off reliever Marcus Manderbach when shortstop Gabe Rowe tagged and scored on a sacrifice fly from Logan Whitten.
The Red Bulls could not turn the tied game into a lead, though, and Hanford took the lead for good in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a two-run blast by Brian Elzie.
The pitching, though, was not what lost the game, according to Whitten. Aside from walking in a run, starter James Caldwell was lights-out, pitching through the sixth inning and holding Hanford scoreless through five innings.
The key for Caldwell, Whitten said, was fixing his footing on the mound after Hanford starter James Landon - a taller pitcher - had dug a hole in the mound. After doing some "yard work" on the hill, Caldwell settled in and held down the Hanford hitters.
In the seventh, reliever Casey Dietz fanned a pair of Hanford hitters, and threw just one mistake against Elzie.
"We have a deep pitching staff," Whitten said. "There are seven or eight kids I feel confident throwing strikes and getting outs. It was a good game, we made some nice plays and they made some nice plays but we just didn't hit any balls hard."