What a difference a day makes in the game of baseball.
On Tuesday, April 19, West Holmes fell to Orrville 2-0 in a game that saw the two teams combine for a minuscule total of four hits, three of them belonging to the Knights.
One day later, four hits would have been a dry spell in a contest that saw West Holmes hammer out 20 hits, Orrville collect 13 and the two teams combined for 13 runs – in one inning.
When the smoke had finally cleared, the Knights did what they had to do to secure a 16-7 victory that looked like a runaway route before things got hairy late.
With freshman Kendrick Wagler on the mound for West Holmes and Orrville’s hard-throwing left-hander Austin Domer matching him pitch-for-pitch, it appeared as though another low-scoring affair was under way through a scoreless first two innings.
“No lead was safe,” said West Holmes coach Bill Pim with a laugh. “Not the way everyone was hitting.”
However, the Knights plated three runs in each of the next two innings to take a 6-0 lead, setting up a wild fifth inning that lasted an eternity and saw the game become a lot different in a number of ways.
“After getting the huge lead, it was disappointing that we weren’t able to put it away,” said Pim.
In the top of the inning, West Holmes blew the game open with a six-run inning. It started with an Erik Hanna single, and he advanced to second on an error. Isaac Hoxworth then singled him to third, and after a sacrifice fly by Brendon Kandel plated a run, Trenton Yoder singled. Trevor Kiner then unleashed an RBI single. A.J. Race then pounded his third hit of the night to the fence, plating tow, but Kiner was thrown out trying to score. That didn’t deter the Knights offense. Mitch Tyson laced an RBI single, Alex Young singled and Bridenthal followed suit to make it 11-0. Hannah singled again, making it 12-0 and it turned the game into what looked like a laugher.
However, when Orrville plated seven runs in the bottom of the inning, nobody in the West Holmes dugout was laughing.
Wagler was sailing, but walks got him in trouble, loading the bases. On came reliever Carter Hahn, who got treated rather rudely by the Red Rider bats, with an error playing a key role. That led to Trevor Kiner coming in late in the inning to put the fire out, but a 12-run lead had shrunk to five.
“That lead certainly did not feel like a big lead,” said Pim. “It felt like one run.”
It was important for the Knights to reestablish their lead, and they did in the seventh. Trenton Yoder reached on an error, and Kiner swatted a run-scoring double, his fourth hit of the night. Race the followed suit, collecting his fourth hit, and the Knights had slowly built the lead up to nine at 16-7.
Kiner was a tad on the wild side in his relief stint, but kept Orrville off the board.
“He was wildly effective,” said Pim of Kiner. “He got outs when he had to.”
The Knights improved to 5-7 overall and 3-2 in Ohio Cardinal Conference play, and Pim said he can’t even begin to explain the turnaround from one night to the next in terms of offense. He only knows that he hopes to package up whatever his Knights did at the plate on the second night.
“Once we got thing going, it became contagious,” said Pim of the hitting.
For West Holmes, it was a banner day all around. Not only did the varsity claim its nine-run victory, pounding out 20 hits in the process, but the junior varsity won 19-0, in gam that featured their second no-hitter on the year in beating Orrville. Gavin Sheldon got the win on the mound throwing two innings, striking out three, while Cody Kiner pitched the final three innings striking out four. The Knights smashed 18 hits on the contest with Isaac Wine leading the Knights with three. Collecting two hits apiece were Sheldon, Shane Jones, Andrew Hopkins, Brayden Vess (3B, 2B, and four RBIs), and Skylar Cline. Players with one hit were Cam Dole, Brody Beckett, Coven Mullet, Brayden Bender, and Isaiah Miller. Jeff Schie reached two times with a walk and a hit by pitch along with Harley Batdorf with a base on balls as well. The JV Knights are now 7-2 and 4-1 in the OCC.
The freshmen were victorious 16-0, with Bridger Kline tossing four innings of shutout baseball.
“For a coach who loves offense, that is a pretty good night of baseball,” said Pim.
“One thing we have really stressed this season is that we don’t have three different teams, we are all one big Knights baseball team. We practice together as one, and it helps build unity.”
Considering the Knights scored 51 runs in the three games, unity seems to be working really well.