The regular season could not have gotten off to a much worse start for the Woodland baseball team Tuesday at LakePoint.
The Wildcats gave up four runs before even coming to the plate, and they never could quite overcome the deficit, leaving nine runners on base, in an 8-4 season-opening loss to Armuchee.
"I was not worried about getting down 4-0," Woodland coach Colby Coursey said. "I felt like we're a team built to inch away and get runs back here and there. ... Mental mistakes, mental errors really hurt us the first couple of innings and not getting back in the game early."
After a rocky first inning that saw Armuchee smack three doubles, Woodland starter Koby Stansel settled in and kept his team in the game.
Stansel finished with seven strikeouts, but he allowed seven runs on six hits and two walks.
Ben Ammons came on in relief in the top of the fifth inning after the first two batters reached. Ammons allowed an inherited runner to score, but he otherwise did well, allowing just one hit over two frames.
Pitching the top of the seventh, Seth McGill gave up one run for the Wildcats, despite not allowing a hit.
"We didn't pitch terrible, but we didn't hit our spots," Coursey said. "That's the thing I'm most disappointed about. We're a team that needs to throw it low and command both sides of the plate.
"If we keep it low, I think we have a chance to win every ballgame. But if we miss our spots, ... we're not going to be as successful as we need to be."
The Wildcats (0-1) looked set to possibly turn things around, thanks to 10 hits, but the offense could never get the big hit when it needed.
In the first, leadoff hitter Garett Cornett singled, reached second base after getting caught in a rundown on a pickoff play, and came around to score on Bailey Ward's single.
However, Woodland stranded two runners on base in the frame — just as it would do in the second inning and again in the third.
"I feel like we're close, but we're not as crisp as we need to be," Coursey said.
In that third frame, the Wildcats did scratch across two runs to pull within 5-3.
Jordan Lee walked and scored on Bryce Evans' single. Marco Haro, who reached on a single, crossed the plate on a wild pitch, but that was as close as Woodland would get to completing the comeback.
After allowing a run in the top of the second inning, Stansel had gotten in a groove until the fifth when Armuchee added a pair of runs to extend its lead back out to four.
The teams traded runs in the eighth inning with Stansel, who tried to help his own cause with a 2-for-4 showing, scoring the final run on a single by Tyler Dilcher, who led Woodland with a 2-for-3 game, a walk and the RBI.
Fittingly, the night ended with the Wildcats, who host Rockmart on Monday, stranding runners at first and third.
"They're definitely mistakes we can correct with reps and practice," Coursey said. "The rain has really hurt everybody. ... I feel like we were prepared enough to go out and execute our game plan. Unfortunately, we didn't get the quality hits we needed."