Not many teams or pitchers have slowed down the Kaufman Realty juggernaut in this season’s Tuscarawas Class A baseball schedule. For at least one night, Blue Wave pitcher Joey Gilmore figured it all out.
Gilmore’s effort on the mound on Wednesday, July 26 at Lehman Field paved the way for a 2-1 Blue Wave win, delivering the second loss of the year to Kaufman.
Gilmore was brilliant, limiting the explosive Kaufman Realty offense to just six hits, walking one while striking out four. He relied on his defense to make plays and get outs, and the Blue Wave did that, not committing a single error in the contest.
Kaufman nearly took a 2-0 lead on consecutive singles from Brandt Miller, Richie Mast and Hayden Mobley, but Gilmore got out of a first-and-third jam with one out by getting Joey Gonzalez to line out to center and then striking out Trevor Kiner to end the inning.
While Gilmore was great, he was being matched by KR ace Jordan Knight, who shut out the Blue Wave until giving up a run in the fourth inning when the Blue Wave hit three straight singles.
It would remain that way until the seventh when P.J. Suso would connect on a 1-1 offering from Knight and deposit it over the big green wall in left, providing the run necessary for the Blue Wave to pull off the upset. Knight went the distance for KR, allowing two runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out five.
Kaufman was able to respond quickly on Sunday, July 30, mashing out a pair of tough wins over Gnadenhutten.
The double-dip opener belonged to Garrett Harstine, who pitched KR to a 5-1 victory by limiting Gnadenhutten to just four hits while striking out five.
Colton Frink would single and come around to score in the bottom of the second inning, giving Gnadenhutten a temporary 1-0 lead, but Harstine would settle in from there and prove to be too tough to hit, allowing only a lone single the rest of the way.
Meanwhile the KR bats would come to life in the fifth inning off of starter and loser JT New.
Kaufman had tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth when Todd Ropp walked and scored on Kiner’s RBI double, but the game tilted Kaufman’s way in the fifth inning.
Scott Troyer doubled and came around on a single from Tyson Gingerich. Gingerich would later score on Bryan Yoder’s single, and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kiner would score another run. Kobe Miller’s single then drove home the fourth run of the inning, which was more than enough for Harstine.
Game two went to Kaufman Realty 7-2 as Gingerich’s bat and Jordan Yoder’s all-around performance on the mound and at the plate highlighted win number 26 on the season for Kaufman versus just the two losses.
Yoder and Tanner Eckstein would produce matching zeroes through the first three innings before KR would finally get to Eckstein in the fourth. In that inning Gingerich would start the five-run inning with a double, and Yoder would end it with a three-run double. In between, several walks and costly errors haunted Gnadenhutten.
Gingerich and Gonzalez would put KR right back on the board in the fifth, Gingerich leading things off with a single. Gonzalez doubled, and a ground-out and a sacrifice fly would give KR its sixth and seventh runs.
Gnadenhutten would knock out four straight singles off of Yoder in the bottom of the fifth for a single tally, and Gnadenhutten would pick up another run off of Yoder in the sixth, but Jordan Stutzman would come in to slam the door shut in the bottom of the seventh to secure the victory for Kaufman.
Yoder picked up win number nine on the season against no losses, twirling six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits while striking out eight. Stutzman whiffed a pair in relief in his one inning of work. Eckstein allowed five runs over four innings, but none of those were earned as a sluggish defense opened the door for Kaufman to take charge.
It’s a wrap.
With its 9-0 victory over Gnadenhutten on Wednesday, Aug. 2, Kaufman put the wraps on yet another Class A baseball regular season championship. Although the season is divided into two halves with the victor of each half squaring off for the league title, KR won both halves in easy fashion, giving them a championship.
In the contest Knight and Stutzman teamed up on the mound to complete the five-hit shutout. Knight went the first five innings, striking out five and allowing just three hits while Stutzman allowed two hits over his two shutout innings of pitching.
Meanwhile Kaufman would get all the offense it would require in the second inning when it pushed across a single tally. Ropp singled to start the inning but was thrown out trying to stretch the gap-shot to right-center into a double. Gingerich followed with a double and scored on Chris Kline’s single.
Kaufman then broke it open in the third inning with a four-spot. After Troyer opened the inning by reaching on an error, Brandt Miller deposited a ball over the wall in left to make it 3-0. Richie Mast walked and sprinted home on a Mobley double, and Mobley scored on a Gnadenhutten error to make it 5-0.
Kaufman scored three more runs in the fourth to put the game out of reach for good. Kiner, Troyer and Mast all singled in the inning for Kaufman Realty. KR’s final run came in the sixth inning when Miller singled and eventually came around to score on an error. Kiner, Miller and Mast all recorded two hits in the game.