PENDLETON — Sometimes the scoreboard isn't the sole measure of success.
The Pendleton Heights baseball team fell to 0-3 Wednesday with an 8-4 loss against Class 4A No. 9 Hamilton Southeastern at Bill Stoudt Field. But the Arabians' improved play after a lackluster doubleheader against Hoosier Heritage Conference rival Greenfield-Central on Saturday left second-year coach Travis Keesling feeling good about the future.
"I'm not happy we lost," he said. "But I'm pleased with the response from Saturday. We took a couple on the chin, but we came back and except for a couple of plays we played pretty well."
The teams combined to use nine pitchers — not uncommon for a mid-week non-conference contest — and early season rust was evident on both sides.
It cost the Arabians most.
Pendleton Heights committed four errors — including three in the pivotal fifth inning — leading to five unearned runs for the Royals. The hosts outhit their visitors 7-5 and produced the game's three extra-base hits but couldn't overcome the physical and mental miscues.
In addition to the errors, the Arabians walked four batters and hit three more. Still, they managed to remain competitive with one of the state's top teams until the end.
"We're so close," Keesling said. "If we can clean up a couple of plays — mental mistakes and defensive errors, but especially the mental mistakes — if we can clean that up, it would have been a whole different ballgame. It was a lot closer than the 8-4 score."
Pendleton Heights took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning with a two-out rally. Justin Kirkpatrick got things started with a double and scored to tie the game on a single by Austin Ellingwood. Thomas Hall's double off the fence in right field scored Ellingwood from first and put the Arabians in front for the final time.