Some games are destined to fly by as pitchers seize control and the pace of the game flies along in an epic battle. The contest between the West Holmes Knights and Mansfield Senior Tygers that took place at West Holmes High School on Tuesday, April 10 was a far cry from that.
In a marathon game that saw the Knights take advantage of 11 Senior walks and a handful of errors and pitching changes, a freezing cold night got a lot longer as the Knights pounded out a 19-0 victory over Senior in a game that seemed to go on forever.
Collin Reynolds took the mound for Bill Pim’s crew and twirled four innings of two-hit, nine-strike-out, no-walk baseball. While the Tygers may not have been a massive offensive threat, it was the way Reynolds threw that excited Pim.
“Collin is a really good baseball player,” Pim said of the junior Reynolds. “Last year he was just kind of feeling his way through a bit, but this year he has come into his own. We expect a lot from him, and he has had plenty of success throughout his career, and I know he expects a lot of himself too. He threw with confidence, and he threw all of his pitches for strikes, and he has been hitting the ball a ton this season.”
Zander Proper came in to finish off Mansfield Senior in the fifth inning of the run-rule game, and he did so with flair, striking out all three Tygers he faced. Meanwhile at the plate, the Knights got off to a two-run lead in the first on an RBI single by Kendrick Wagler and an RBI ground out from Brendan Bridenthal to put the Knights on top early.
Then came a second inning in which West Holmes played on defense for less than five minutes and then stayed in the dugout on offense for nearly 45 minutes as Senior’s pitching and defense led to a 10-run outburst for West Holmes that put the game away.
The party got started when the first five Knights strode to the plate and took base on balls, forcing in a run, the run scoring on a walk to Shane Jones. After a pitching change, things didn’t improve for the Tygers. Bridger Cline singled home a run, and Wagler followed with a two-run single to make it 7-0. Reynolds then crushed a double to center to plate two more runs to make it 9-0. Bridenthal then delivered a triple to right center that spotted West Holmes to a 10-0 lead. The walks kept coming as Shiloh Jones and Evan Yoder each drew free passes. Shane Jones then reached on an error, and Cline drew a walk, forcing in a run before Wagler ripped his second RBI single of the inning.
About an eternity after the inning had started, West Holmes held an insurmountable 12-0 lead.
Bridenthal singled in the bottom of the third and came around to score on a wild pitch after Reynolds had cruised through the top of the inning, but even as Pim unloaded his bench, the Knights kept producing runs. The fourth inning turned into another lengthy one as the Knights pushed across six more runs, taking one base at a time. Mansfield Senior prolonged the agony with four errors during the inning, missing a number of opportunities to record easy outs, and the big blow in the inning came off the bat of Reynolds, who rocketed another double to the gap in right center to produce two runs.
The Knights continued to get strong at-bats from Shane Jones and Cline at the top of the order, but the heart of the order, Wagler, Reynolds and Bridenthal, crushed it. Wagler in particular has been a revelation at the plate this year. The side-armer has been great on the mound in his first two seasons, but usually Pim hit for him. This year he has gotten a chance to shine at the plate and has taken full advantage. He cranked out four hits on the night, driving in four runs.
“He’s been impressive, driving the ball to all fields,” Pim said of Wagler. “He is making the most of his chance to play every day.”
While it might seem tough to keep a team focused on a bitterly cold night when the game gets out of hand, Pim said the one key to this game was that he got to play a bunch of younger kids who are eager to make a name for themselves.
“We’re playing a lot of young guys who are trying to earn playing time, so we can use these types of games to evaluate everyone,” Pim said. “The kids are getting a chance to show what they can do, so that helps keep us focused.”
Aside from Wagler’s four hits and four RBI, Bridenthal ripped three hits including the triple while driving in three runs. Reynolds crushed a pair of doubles while both Shane Jones and Shiloh Jones picked up a pair of runs scored.
West Holmes improved to 3-4 on the year, and Pim said after suffering a pair of tough losses to Lexington, they hope to get on a role.
“Our pitching has been really good, but our bats need to catch up,” Pim said. “I’ve seen us making some improvements at the plate, so hopefully that will get us on a roll.”