BELOIT - The Beloit Memorial baseball team simply couldn't come through with the big hit against Madison Memorial Monday at Pohlman Field.
The result was a frustrating 6-2 defeat to the Spartans in a game in which the hit column told much of the story: Both teams ended up with eight, with the Spartans coming up with the necessary clutch hits.
Beloit Memorial coach Tyree Gamble said his team was close to a breakthrough.
"We had a lot of guys in scoring position today," Gamble said. "We were moving guys around, we were stealing some bases, and we just couldn't get the big hit. They made more mistakes than we did, but offensively we just couldn't get it done."
While there were plays that didn't go their way on the field, Gamble said the team's mental approach could have had something to do with it.
"We came out Friday against a really solid Madison West team and split a doubleheader against them," Gamble said. "Our intensity was a lot better, especially in that first game. We won that one, and then in the second game I felt like we ran out of steam. And I felt like we came out flat today, and that makes a difference when you're playing in these types of games."
Beloit Memorial starting pitcher Kobe Hollenbeck, who has pitched well of late, put up a competitive effort against a solid Spartans lineup.
Hollenbeck battled through four innings, keeping the Knights in the game.
"Kobe didn't have his best stuff out there today," Gamble said. "But he kept working out there and worked through some tough spots."
Madison Memorial starting pitcher Seth Gonring was solid in four innings of shutout work, but the Knights didn't lack for opportunities. Beloit picked up a pair of hits in the first inning without collecting a run after the Spartans had put up a two-spot against Hollenbeck in the top of the inning.
The Spartans added a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth to take a commanding 5-0 lead.
Beloit finally broke through for two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Trailing 5-0, a two-out single from Brett Kiger to left field plated Jake Raisbeck with the first Beloit run. When Madison Memorial's left fielder mis-played the ball, Kiger scooted to second.
That error proved costly when the Spartans center fielder got a bad break on a bloop single hit by Hollenbeck that plated Kiger to make it 5-2.
The Spartans closed the scoring in the seventh with a manufactured run that included a single, stolen base and two-out base hit.
The game ended in appropriate fashion, as the Knights drew a pair of walks before bouncing into an inning-ending double play.
Beloit's Chad Dixon said the Knights' trouble with hitters on base can be traced back to their approach.
"I think a lot of the problem is focus," Dixon said. "We can get guys on all the time, but we can't string those hits together when we need to. We are a really streaky team, and that's something we need to work on.
The Knights are in store for a critical week. They will take on Verona twice, including Tuesday at Pohlman Field, before hosting Elkhorn Friday ahead of next week's seeding meeting.
"This could be a really big week for us," Gamble said. "Our goal is to always win the week, and if we do that this week, and we play Parker before the seeding meeting, who knows where we could end up. We've had some injuries, and now we're healthy again, so that could play in our favor as well. But we need to play well for the rest of the week."