URBANA – The baseball teams at Urbana and Champaign Central haven't had much problem on offense this spring.
Defense? An entirely different matter.
During a sometimes-sloppy, 2-hour, 55- minute slugfest Thursday night at Prairie Park, both teams took turns showing why their defensive woes have cost them a few games this season. But the Maroons departed with a better feeling, posting a 12-4 victory that eased the sting of a difficult week.
On Tuesday, Central wasted a 5-0 lead and lost 15-11 to Urbana.
"We got whupped," Central outfielder Nick Kresca said.
On Wednesday, the Maroons blew a 7-1 lead and lost 8-7 against Bloomington.
"We have one bad inning every game," Kresca said.
On the bus ride home, Central coach John Staab expressed his exasperation and instituted an after-school workout Thursday, hours before the 6:30 p.m. first pitch against the Tigers.
"Coming back from Bloomington I said, 'Boys, I'm running out of answers here. But one thing I know is we're not going to get any better unless we get some more reps,' " Staab said.
"So we just took ground balls and fly balls for about 45 minutes after school. "We didn't play real clean (tonight), but we played well enough to win. We've been hitting well. We just (need) some pitching and defense and to put it all together, and tonight we got a little closer."
Central (7-9-1 overall, 1-2 Big 12) overcame five errors, which is a lot – but fewer than the nine it committed against Bloomington.
"Hopefully this is a turning point," said winning pitcher Brett Anderson, who added three hits and three RBI at the plate. "It's the consistency that's been killing us. We'll start all right, and then a few pitches or a few plays will turn things around, and we'll find ourselves in a hole."
Anderson persevered against an Urbana offense that was averaging 11.5 runs a game. Though he never retired the side in order, Anderson allowed six hits and overcame his team's five errors. He did not allow a run after the third inning, and Central responded by erasing a 4-2 deficit.
"Brett manned up," Staab said after Anderson's 127-pitch outing. "We were a little thin on pitching. Coach (Brian) Daly called a great game, and Brett executed pitches when he had to. Gutty effort."
Kresca added three hits and two RBI. Doug Kyrouac and Ben Freeman each added two hits while driving in a pair.
Urbana (9-6, 1-1) rued its four errors, which led to six unearned runs.
"That's been the story most of the season," Urbana coach Steve Waller said. "You give a team four or five outs in an inning, it's tough."
Julian Butler had two hits for the Tigers.
"Hats off to Central," Waller said. "Fifteen hits is hard to beat."