BUSY BASEPATHS: Southwestern’s Tryston Wheatley (above, 32) and Matt Schwartz converge on third base as Jac-Cen-Del’s Trey Brown calls for the ball during a base-running miscue by the Rebels in Friday’s 10-2 loss to the Eagles. Wheatley scored on the play while Schwartz was out trying to return to second base. The Eagles’ Alex Schoettmer (below) slides across home plate just ahead of the tag by Southwestern catcher Robbie Stoner. (Staff photos by Mark Campbell)
BUSY BASEPATHS: Southwestern’s Tryston Wheatley (above, 32) and Matt Schwartz converge on third base as Jac-Cen-Del’s Trey Brown calls for the ball during a base-running miscue by the Rebels in Friday’s 10-2 loss to the Eagles. Wheatley scored on the play while Schwartz was out trying to return to second base. The Eagles’ Alex Schoettmer (below) slides across home plate just ahead of the tag by Southwestern catcher Robbie Stoner. (Staff photos by Mark Campbell)
Southwestern baseball came into Friday's Ohio River Valley Conference matchup with Class A No. 13 Jac-Cen-Del playing it's best baseball of the season.

The once struggling young Rebels were hot off a 3-0 upset of Class A No. 6 Rising Sun and a 16-1 shelling of Crothersville on the road.

As is often the case with a young team, a week of highs came crashing down into a big low as the Eagles scored three runs in the first and five in the third en route to a 10-2 win in Hanover.

"Our focus was just not what it should have been today," Southwestern coach Derik Hutton said. "After three straight good games we came out flat today for whatever reason and you can't do that against the conference leader."

Jac-Cen-Del, now 12-4, 7-1 ORVC, had benefited from Southwestern's upset of the Shiners last Thursday by replacing Rising Sun in first place in the conference standings. Southwestern was unable to play the spoiler again on Friday.

The Rebels had played almost error-free baseball during their recent win streak to go with solid pitching and crisp hitting. On Friday, errors and walks bit the Rebels first in the top of the first inning and then the hitting never came around against Jac-Cen-Del starter Dominique Norman.

"We didn't do ourselves any favors on defense and we walked a few too many," Hutton noted. "But Adam Jackson was making his first varsity start for us and our defense didn't help him out a lot. Quite frankly, it's been a busy week and we're starting to run a little short on pitching."

For his part, the eight runs Jac-Cen-Del plated during Jackson's time on the mound came on just five hits but there were six walks and four Rebel errors, too. Logan Sprong came on in the fourth and allowed two earned runs on four hits and four walks while striking out one.

Norman pitched a strong six innings before turning the ball over to closer Ethan Adams and allowed just one run on three hits and three walks while striking out 10.

The Rebels threatened in all but the third, fifth and sixth innings, but Southwestern only managed to score off the Eagles' starter in the second when Tryston Wheatley reached on a leadoff error and Matt Schwartz reached on a one-out walk to set the table for Michael Baker-Conover's run-scoring single to right.

The Rebels got jammed up on the basepaths on the play when Wheatley turned for home but threw on the brakes and Baker-Conover ran through second to end up with both Rebels converging on third. Wheatley managed to score while Baker-Conover drew the rundown between third and second and Southwestern closed to within 3-1 of the Eagles.

"We made some base-running mistakes out there today that cost us some runs," Hutton admitted. "We did some things that young teams do and they cost us."

By the time Southwestern scored again, the Eagles had built a 10-1 lead and Adams had come on for Norman in the bottom of the seventh.

Against Adams, Southwestern sandwiched two walks around a pair of strikeouts to open the inning with leadoff batter Arie Mitchell taking second on a wild pitch before Jackson drew the second walk and sent Mitchell to third by drawing a wild pickoff throw to first.

Tristan Embs then singled to left to score Mitchell before Adams fanned Logan Sprong for his third strikeout of the inning to end the game.

Adams led Jac-Cen-Del at the plate with three hits, three runs and two RBIs. Southwestern got hits from Gage Hartman, Embs, Sprong and Baker-Conover with Embs scoring a run and driving in Mitchell with the other run.

"These guys are so young that we're going to have a lot of highs and a lot of lows," Hutton said of the Rebels. "I think we'll bounce back from this OK. They're so young that they don't let anything bother them for very long."

The Rebels (6-12, 2-6 ORVC) are back in action today when Southwestern hosts Charlestown for a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m.