Noftsger's effort not enough as Bobcats drop 1-4A affair
BERRYVILLE -- Berryville dropped to 5-6 overall and 0-4 in 1-4A Conference with a 5-0 shutout loss to Prairie Grove Thursday afternoon behind a quality pitching performance from senior lefty Anthony Noftsger.
Noftsger absorbed the complete-game loss, allowing two hits and five walks while striking out four. Noftsger allowed three earned runs as the Cats committed four errors, three by senior shortstop Donnie Hoppe.
It was the second consecutive game for the Cats to play well without recording a win after a loss to Farmington Monday.
"You take 14 innings against two of the best teams in the state and we were right there 12 of those 14 innings," Berryville coach Matt Sayer said. "You have to be encouraged. But ultimately we are still frustrated. I don't care how well Noftsger throws we have to score runs to win."
Prairie Grove threw staff ace Aaron Kincaid, a University of Arkansas signee. Kincaid allowed just one hit and fanned 13 in seven solid innings.
"He's pretty good," Sayer said. "He's probably as good as we will see. He throws harder than anyone we have seen and anyone we will see. It's a matter of seeing it. You have to do your best to manufacture runs."
Kincaid sat the Cats down in order for the first three innings before Austin Lehr singled to start the fourth. Lehr stole second but was stranded as Nofstger and Tyler Coatney both struck out looking. Kincaid then worked 1-2-3 innings in the fifth, sixth and seventh, needed just 91 pitches in the complete-game effort, facing one over the minimum.
"He was efficient and went right after us," Sayer said. "He's their No. 1 and has been for the last couple of years."
Noftsger threw 112 pitches, 61 for strikes.
"He is starting to learn how to pitch," Sayer said of the southpaw. "That's what we have needed from him. Sometimes you think its not sinking in. But days like today it makes you think he is absorbing it."
Noftsger allowed lone runs in the first-second and third innings before the Tigers scored two in the fourth.
"He started a little shaky the first couple of innings with his command," Sayer noted. "But he got better as the day went along. But so did their guy unfortunately."
Sayer said the score could have been even closer.
"We had a double play ball that would have ended the inning in the fourth," he said. "The next batter drives in two runs. I feel like it was even closer than 5-0."
The Cats return to action Monday with a 1-4A Conference outing at Gentry, a team that played in the state tournament last year.
"They graduated a ton of guys last year offensively," Sayer said. "They made it to state so they were playing well the end of the year. We know they have lost to Pea Ridge, Ozark and Farmington. This is definitely a game we need to go in and win."
Sayer said Noftsger could get the start on three days rest.