Lesson learned

Gene Taylor's gets message to respect game after lackadaisical doubleheader split

Gene Taylor’s player Zane Abeyta hustles to third base Wednesday in the team’s 6-4 loss to Pomona in the second game of a doubleheader.

Gene Taylor’s head coach Dave Jahnke and assistant coach Willie Hinojosa saw the lack of focus and effort in the first game and the nonchalant attitude and approach being taken by their players between games.

Then, they cringed as they watched what they knew was coming: an awful first inning that cost the Gene Taylor’s baseball team a sweep of Pomona in an American Legion A Elite League doubleheader Wednesday.

Tass Crow pitched too well for Pomona to bite Gene Taylor’s in Game 1, which Gene Taylor’s won 4-0.

But the Panthers did all the damage they needed to do in the first inning of Game 2, taking a 5-0 lead. Gene Taylor’s regained its focus and put forth a much better effort from that point on, but it lost 6-4 to Pomona.

Jahnke blamed himself for his players not being ready to play the second game, but Gene Taylor’s is an all-star team of local baseball talent, and most of the players know better than to take opponents for granted and give less than their best effort. Yet, they did, Jahnke said.

“We weren’t respecting the game, and we weren’t ready to play,” Jahnke said. “It’s a mental focus. We kind of strolled through the first game. ... We didn’t respect (Pomona). We didn’t respect the game.”

Starting pitcher Easton Woods got the message after the first frame of Game 2 and responded by limiting the Panthers to one run, four hits, one walk and a hit batter the rest of the way. Three of those remaining hits came in the seventh inning, when Pomona got its final run.

The rest of his team’s response also was acceptable to Jahnke.

“The second through the seventh innings, they fought,” he said.

What Gene Taylor’s didn’t do was get the timely hits it needed to complete the comeback. It scored two runs in the second inning on Caleb Coleman’s two-run double, and Zane Abeyta tripled, then scored on a single by Quincy Campbell in the third inning to cut the deficit to 5-3.

After that, Gene Taylor’s put runners on base every inning, but twice it was with two outs, and the team didn’t score again until the seventh inning.

The sting of the loss will diminish, Jahnke said, if his players learned the obvious lesson from the day: Take the game seriously and always give your best effort.

“If we can take it as a learning point, a teaching point and apply it to the rest of the summer, then it was worth it,” he said.

On the other end of the effort spectrum Wednesday was the pitching of Crow, who threw the first six innings of Game 1, then yielded to Kadan Cummings, who pitched the final frame to complete the shutout.

Crow limited Pomona to three hits and two walks, and he struck out three batters.

“He was a bulldog out there,” Jahnke said. “He pumped strikes. He pumped quality pitches in the zone. ... That’s the kind of effort you get from Tass every game. He’s a competitor.”

Abeyta and Michael Price had two hits apiece for Gene Taylor’s in the opener, and Tyler Sandoval doubled and drove in two runs.

In Game 2, Abeyta was joined by Coleman and Troy Levinson with two hits apiece.

The Game 2 loss was Gene Taylor’s first in six league games, and the team hits the road this weekend to play three doubleheaders in three days: Friday at Rocky Mountain, Saturday at Fossil Ridge, and Sunday at Fort Collins.

“We can’t afford to play like (we did Wednesday) this weekend,” Jahnke said. “The teams coming up are better than Pomona. They’re all like us, fighting to get into the upper half of the league.”


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