West Holmes Baseball

Knights ‘playing baseball’ in twin-bill wins over Redbirds and Titans

Drew Campbell comes up big for Knights in Triway win

“Now we’re playing baseball.”

West Holmes head coach Bill Pim says that a lot when things are going well on the diamond for his Knights’ baseball team.

The first third of the season has seen West Holmes lose several one-run games and struggle to put together a consistent effort in others, but in recent days the Knights have had plenty of opportunities to state that Pim favorite.

On Saturday, April 15, the Knights were playing baseball at a high level, cruising past Loudonville 9-1 then stumping Triway 8-1. In the pair of wins West Holmes got timely hitting, with several different hitters coming up with huge two-out hits. They also got some defense that ranged from the solid to the spectacular, including Trenton Yoder’s incredible diving play to open the Triway game, and they got superb pitching from Kiowa Looney and Kendrick Wagler, who both twirled complete game wins, Looney striking out 12 Redbirds in the opener and Wagler whiffing nine Titans in the nightcap.

Wagler allowed just three hits in what has become a routine effort for the Knights’ ace.

“I felt good coming in, considering this was the shortest rest I’ve had between starts,” Wagler said. “The team went out and put us in great shape and then it was just a matter of throwing strikes and trying to keep hitters off balance.”

Barnes, Donaldson, Jones and Bridenthal all collected two hits apiece for West Holmes, Hanna reached base in all four at bats but it was Campbell who had the biggest day, driving in four with his three-hit day.

“We’ve hit so well in practice, I’ve been scratching my head why it hasn’t translated to the games,” Pim said. “But it feels like all of that hard work we’ve put in, all of the live pitching, the soft toss and everything else we have done, is starting to pay off. It’s good to see the hard work these guys have put in start to create results.”

In the game with the Titans, while Wagler was busy plowing through the Triway lineup, his teammates were getting busy coming up with some big two-out hits to put the game away.

The Knights played a little small ball in the opening inning, when lead-off man Slade Barnes walked, stole second, went to third on a ground-out and scored on Drew Campbell’s sacrifice fly.

But it would be the second inning that would better define West Holmes’ effort in this one. Erik Hanna singled, and with one out, the speedy Barnes hit a chopper to the right side and used his blazing speed to churn out an infield hit. With two outs, Campbell would come through again with a two-run single, and Jake Donaldson would also hit a bullet up the middle for another Knights run and a 4-0 lead.

Campbell would continue his red-hot game in the fourth with a double, and again with two outs the Knights would strike when Levi Jones would single to right to plate Campbell. In the fifth, Hanna again led off with a walk, was sacrificed to second by Bridger Cline and Barnes singled him to third and then stole second. With two outs, it would again be Campbell having himself a huge day, striping another two-run single.

West Holmes tacked on an insurance run in the sixth when Brendan Bridenthal and Jones singled and Cline crushed a sacrifice fly to center to plate Bridenthal. The Titans would plate their sole run in the fourth when Dylan Allison singled and came around to score on Zach Schuch’s RBI hit.

“We got behind early and then I thought we just kind of went through the motions in that second game,” said Triway coach Sean Carmichael. “We cut it to 4-1, and then they came right back and scored again and that took the wind right out of us. I thought the biggest difference was their ability to get a number of big two-out hits.”

The Titans ended the day at 9-2 overall following the split, and Carmichael said that pitching has been the key to success for a young group that has found success. While none of his three top pitchers threw in the double-header, he said their pitching depth has given them every opportunity to be successful despite the team not hitting all that well.

“We’ve got to learn that every game we aren’t going to through a shut-out,” Carmichael said. “We have been fortunate to throw five of them so far this year, but we have to go up to the plate and learn how to produce offensively. We will get there, but I was a little disappointed that we kind of went through the motions in that second game.”

While the Titans bats were silent, even in the 4-0 win over Loudonville in game two, the Knights bats were red-hot once they got going in the opener versus Loudonville. The Knights scratched out a run in the third when Cline singled and scored on Yoder’s sacrifice fly, and then they plated another in the fourth when Jones singled, stole second and raced home on Gavin Sheldon’s single.

Looney was proving to be in complete control on the mound, and in the fifth inning the Knights blew the game wide open. Cline opened the inning with a single, and a walk and two hit batters led to the first run of the inning, a Donaldson single scored a second, a fielder’s choice and an RBI walk by Jones scored another and an error and a bases loaded walk to Cline made it a five-run inning.

West Holmes would plate two more in the sixth, not that Looney would need the help. Singled from Campbell and Donaldson would set the table for a two-run triple off the bat of Jones

Jones, Donaldson and Cline all banged out a pair of hits in the win, with Jones driving in three. Looney scattered three hits in his terrific effort on the mound.

“My defense played so well behind me that I could just go out and make pitches and not worry,” Looney said. “Shane made an incredible diving catch in left, and when you get defensive efforts like that it makes you that much more confident.”

Pim was obviously excited about his twin three-hit efforts.

“Kendrick continued to throw great, and again he was stronger at the end of the game than he was at the beginning,” Pim said. “But Kiowa, wow, when he gives us that kind of an effort and he throws strikes and works counts like he did today, that makes us so much better. I thought he was a real tactician on the mound today. That makes our pitching staff so much deeper.”

The Knights’ third straight win improves them to 6-7, and Pim said he is excited for the kids to see that things are coming together.

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