It's an attitude problem.
The Helias Crusaders need to develop one at the plate.
"Walk up there with an attitude that getting me out is not going to happen," Helias coach Chris Wyrick said after the Crusaders fell 2-1 in nine innings to the Rock Bridge Bruins in Central Missouri Activities Conference action at the American Legion Post 5 Sports Complex.
The Crusaders had just one hit in the game, a one-out single in the seventh inning by Zach Wolken. It was one of just five balls Helias hit in the game that made it to the outfield.
"We're taking pitches we're capable of hitting and we're swinging at pitches we struggle with," Wyrick said. "Some guys hit the fastball better, some hit the breaking ball better. But we're swinging at pitches we're not capable of hitting well.
"Until we figure out that you can't drive in runners, you can't get on base unless you swing the bat at a pitch you should be able to hit with authority, this is going to keep happening."
While the Crusaders were struggling against Rock Bridge starter Reece Clapp, the Bruins couldn't get much done against Helias starter Nate Roark.
Roark allowed just two baserunners through the first four innings before the Bruins got on the scoreboard in the fifth.
With one out, Austin Stewart singled. One out later, he stole third before coming home on a single by Dane Gray.
Roark allowed three hits and two walks while striking out one in five innings of work.
Helias had just one baserunner off Clapp through the first six innings — a two-out walk by Jaden Kolb in the fourth.
The Crusaders battled to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. Billy Underwood led off with a liner off the glove of the first baseman for an error to reach first, then advanced to second on a wild pickoff throw. Sam Schell followed and was thrown out on a grounder to third. Underwood took off for third on the play and when the throw from the first baseman was high and went down the line in left, came home to score the tying run.
Wolken followed with what turned out to be Helias' lone hit on a liner to center. But pinch-runner Quinton Baker wsa stranded at first after a popout to the first baseman and a strikeout.
The Bruins had a chance to regain the lead in the top of the eighth. Toby Scheidt hit a two-out single before Kaiden Stoffer blasted a 1-2 pitch down the line in left that had home-run distance, but drifted foul. He then struck out to end the inning.
Clapp, who threw just 27 pitches through the first three inning to keep his pitch-count low, came out to pitch the eighth for the Bruins. Sam Wyrick reached on a two-out error and advanced to second on a passed ball before a strikeout looking ended the threat.
"We're not aggressive in the zone on strikes," Chris Wyrick said. "We're aggressive on pitches out of the zone sometimes, which makes no sense."
Bobby Bryan led off the top of the ninth for the Bruins with a double down the line in left and was sacrificed to third. Stewart followed with a grounder to short and Bryan took off for home. The throw beat Bryan, but the ball came out of the glove of the catcher. Bryan had missed the plate on his slide, but was able to dive back to touch it before the tag of pitcher Alex Loethen to make it 2-1.
Gray came on in relief of Clapp in the ninth. His first two pitches missed the strike zone, but after a mound visit, Gray struck out the side to end the game and get the save.
Clapp struck out nine in his eight innings of work for Rock Bridge (13-5 overall, 3-0 CMAC).
"He was attacking us, then keeping us off-balance and guessing," Wyrick said. "That's the problem, we were guessing."
Loethen took the loss. He pitched the final four innings, allowing a run on four hits while recording four strikeouts.
The Crusaders have a 1.84 ERA this season.
"Our pitchers are doing their job to help us win games," Wyrick said.
Helias (10-4, 1-1) is off until Tuesday when the Crusaders host the Blair Oaks Falcons. Game time is 5 p.m.
"We'll get back at it (today) and if we don't swing the bat, there will likely be some consequences," Wyrick said. "Hopefully, that will shake them up a little bit.
"We just need to swing the bat."