'Landers left frustrated with another one-run loss

By Kim Richardson
STAR Staff
krichardson@starhq.com

   It was the eighth time this baseball season that the Highlanders of Cloudland High School have done it. Tuesday on the East Tennessee State University campus, the Highlanders lost yet another one-run game.
   "We keep finding new ways to lose," stated Cloudland head coach Robbie Turbyfill. "We played well today overall, and Clint (Steiner) pitched an outstanding game. It's just tough to keep losing them like this." 
   "Just when it looks like we're going to secure a big win, we shoot ourselves in the foot," said Cloudland shortstop and leadoff hitter Mark Byrd. "It's those mental errors, again."
   Steiner and Cloudland lost a 4-3 heartbreaker to University High School, which got equally good pitching of Toby Hoyle, at Mooney Field.
   "He really had command of the break," stated UH head coach Tony Gordon. "In fact we were able to see him battle from behind in the count a couple times and actually use his breaking ball -- his control was that good today."
   Steiner lamented the loss, saying, "Well, we had another close one, but again the same result."
   But forever the optimist, the Highlander hurler feels that "we're getting better, and we'll work through the lapses and mistakes. I think we can still be a very good ball club."
   Eighth-grade starting third-baseman Michael Lunsford had one hit, a nice bunt, and took some of the blame for the loss.
   "I have to be more consistent," he said. "Clint pitched what I feel is his best game ever, and we just didn't make the plays in the field -- it's that simple. But we're working hard and getting better."
   Steiner repeatedly had the Highlander batters lunging for his wicked breaking ball.
   "We got to him a couple times," stated Steiner, who hit a line-shot triple that plated two in the top of the third inning. "But at times he did have us out front of that breaker."
   "He's such a leader. He works hard and today he got a little reward for his amazing efforts," stated Gordon, only five days into his new role as head baseball coach of the Junior Bucs, filling in for regular head coach Pat Heaton, who sustained a severe knee injury last week.
   "We've been so close, and against some of the very best teams in the area," Turbyfill said. "I can't say enough about the way he pitched, and Mark (Byrd), some of the plays he made at short, well, he just continues to do great things for us."
   Byrd also had a triple to lead off the third.
   Brandon Bishop matched RBIs with Steiner with a two-run double in the bottom of the third. The Highlanders managed to tie the game at 3 apiece in the top of the fifth, just after the Bucs had gone up by one in the bottom of the fourth. 
   But again University High responded, with a Ryan Collins steal of home plate in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring the go-ahead run that held up for the winner.
   "We know we can compete with the better teams," said Steiner. "I'm sure we've proven that. But we just have to cut way back on the mental mistakes and turn some of these heartbreakers into victories."
   "It has been very frustrating, all these one runners," said Coach Turbyfill, whose Highlanders have also lost four two-run games, at last count. "We know we can't win like this, but at the same time, we know that if we can start to make the fundamental plays, we can turn this thing around."