GRIFFITH | A shaky defense is like driving on bald tires. Eventually, you end up in a ditch.
Hammond found itself in a ravine at Wednesday's 3A Sectional 17 game with Gavit, losing 10-0 in five innings no thanks to its four errors, six wild pitches and several passed balls.
The Gladiators (5-16) advance to face host and tourney favorite Griffith (16-9-1) Saturday at 10 a.m.
Gavit lost an earlier meeting with the Panthers, 7-0, in a game coach Tony Harris said was closer than the final score.
“They scored a couple (runs) late to pull away,” Harris said. “We're preaching to the kids that if we can limit our mistakes and hit the ball, we can beat them.
“We've been able to hang with a lot of the good teams we've played.”
Hammond (0-14) had only 11 players and trailed 7-0 after two innings as Gavit scored twice on wild pitches and on a two-run fielding error — with James Thompson's three-run homer in the fourth the clincher.
“Most of the pitchers I've faced have been throwing me curveballs. Today was a fastball, right there,” Thompson said of his 340-foot drive over the left field fence.
Hector Calderon joined the fun with a two-run single and Mike Anguiano had an RBI double.
Gavit's Chris Gomez struck out nine and allowed two hits in getting the best of Hammond's tough-luck Marcos Arredondo, who had seven walks, six wild pitches and little defensive support.
“Our seniors are very good,” said Thompson, a four-year varsity player. “We never let a loss get to us. We have a hard practice, come back and continue to battle.
“Since a blowout loss to Chesterton in about the sixth game, our team has improved and the games we've lost have been by only two, three or four runs.”