Over recent years the Blue Wave team from Tuscarawas County has given Kaufman Realty a tough time in Tuscarawas Count Class A Baseball.
Their earlier game this year saw the Blue Wave challenge KR before falling 7-4, so the Sunday, June 16 double-header at Lehman Field in Berlin was a chance for the Blue Wave to continue to try to chip away at the Kaufman Realty stronghold on the league in recent years.
It didn’t turn out well for the Blue Wave, however, as Kaufman posted wins of 7-0 and 14-0 as pitchers Garrett Harstine and Jordan Yoder continued to throw extremely well for KR.
After struggling at the plate in their two most recent games, Kaufman’s bats got going in this double-dip and provided plenty of support for the two pitchers.
“This feels really good,” KR head coach Clippy Yoder said. “We responded well to our two tough losses, and we came out and did the little things right. We made the plays we needed to make, and when you make plays you should be making, it puts you in good shape.”
Harstine improved to 3-1 in the 7-0 opener and lowered his earned run average to 0.862 while Yoder upped his record to 3-0, and his shut-out didn’t even lower his ERA, which continues to stand at 0.00.
As for his two workhorse starters who have been so good this season, coach Yoder said it isn’t just that both are terrific pitchers that has made them so successful.
“Those two guys have pitched a lot for us this season, and both have done extremely well, but both of them are veteran pitchers who understand the game and have been in complete control when they are out there on the mound,” Yoder said. “It’s nice as a coach when you’ve got guys on the mound who are composed and when something happens you know they are going to work out of it. Bad things happen in baseball, but the mental part is there, and when bad things happen, they stay in control.”
Harstine cruised through the first two innings, and Kaufman was able to get on the board in the second inning, thanks to some heady play by Tyson Gingerich.
Bryan Yoder singled to start the second off of Blue Wave starter Jaret Quinn, and with one out Cordell Miller launched a double to move Yoder to third. Cameron Miller popped out to second, and with two outs, lead-off batter Gingerich saw the third baseman playing deep and dropped down a bunt to bring in Yoder for a 1-0 lead. Gingerich then stole second, and Brant Miller lashed a single to center to score Cordell Miller and Gingerich for a 3-0 lead.
Harstine allowed a lead-off single to Derron Rothacher, but the inning ended when Cameron Miller gunned down Rothacher trying to steal second.
Quinn sailed through the bottom of the third for the Blue Wave, and Harstine allowed a lead-off double to Logan Morehead to start the fourth but worked out of trouble. KR made it 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth when Stone King doubled and came around on an error.
Neither team scored in the fifth, and Kaufman turned a nice double play to end the sixth and then came in and added some insurance. Cameron Miller was hit by a pitch, and Cordell Miller singled. Then Gingerich hammered a ball to the wall in center to make it 6-0. Scott Troyer’s two-out single scored Gingerich, and Kaufman was in command 7-0.
Jordan Stutzman relieved Harstine, and after getting two easy outs, Owen Stauffer’s ground ball to short went under Gingerich’s glove into shallow left center. Stauffer tried to advance to second on the play but was thrown out with plenty to spare to end the game.
Harstine would pick up the win, going six strong shut-out innings, allowing just four hits while striking out seven and walking one.
After the rough losses that went 13 and eight innings and saw KR push across just three runs total, coach Yoder said it was encouraging to see the bats come to life and create some cushion for his mound men.
“I thought Tyson had that bunt hit, and it really kind of opened up the flood gates for us,” coach Yoder said. “Sometimes in baseball it just takes something like that to get you going again, and after that I thought we started to relax and swing the bats well.”
Gingerich had two hits while driving in three runs to pace the Kaufman hitting attack while Quinn went the distance for the Blue Wave, allowing six earned runs on eight hits, walking three and striking out one. Morehead recorded two hits for the Blue Wave.
While game two was a 14-0 Kaufman Realty rout, it didn’t start out that way. Jordan Yoder took the mound for KR and promptly struck out two of the first three batters he faced.
Morehead toed the rubber for the Blue Wave and worked around a Brant Miller single to open the game. Yoder struck out two more in the second, and KR was able to push across a single tally in the second when Kobe Miller singled to start the inning and with two outs scored on an error.
Yoder, who had looked fantastic through two innings, created some trouble of his own in the third. A pair of walks put two on and no out, but Yoder got bailed out on a missed Blue Wave bunt attempt. Catcher Austin Marko fired a missile to second to take out Anthony Norman, who had wandered too far off of second base on the missed attempt.
“That play was absolutely huge because I couldn’t find my rhythm at the time,” Yoder said.
It turned out to be a big play because after Yoder struck out Logan Drescher, Luke Brittain singled through the right side, and Yoder allowed another walk to load the bases with two outs. Yoder then got Quinn to hit a chopper to third base for an easy force out.
That seemed to inspire Kaufman Realty while taking the wind out of the sails of the Blue Wave, and KR went to work against Morehead.
Scott Troyer singled, Marko walked and Troyer scored on an error. Bryan Yoder then hit a broken-bat double off the green wall in left to plate Marko for a 3-0 lead.
Rothacher relieved Morehead, and King produced a sacrifice fly to right to make it 4-0. Cameron Miller walked before Cordell Miller slammed a single to center to score Bryan Yoder. Gingerich doubled in a run, Brant Miller singled in another, and Kobe Miller’s single and an error scored two more runs. Suddenly a tight game was a 10-0 Kaufman Realty blowout.
Yoder continued to struggle with his control in the top of the fourth. He allowed a pair of walks and hit a batter to load the bases with two outs. He then went into attack mode and blew away Drescher to end the threat.
Kaufman Realty then came in and made sure game two would only go five innings on this brutally hot day.
Cameron Miller walked, and with one out Gingerich smacked a double to center to make it 11-0. After Brant Miller walked with one out, Marko drove a ball high into the blue sky that settled on top of the hitting building in left for a three-run home run.
Morgan Mauer came in to relieve Yoder in the fifth and got three quick outs to end the game and the day in favor of Kaufman Realty, who improved to 7-2 while the Blue Wave dropped to 2-7.
Brittain managed to collect the lone hit for the Blue Wave while Marko led the Kaufman Realty attack with three hits, driving in three and scoring three times. Gingerich, Brandt Miller, Kobe Miller and Cordell Miller all lashed out a pair of hits with Brant Miller, Kobe Miller and Gingerich all driving in a pair.
Jordan Yoder earned the victory for Kaufman Realty, hurling four innings of shut-out baseball, allowing one hit, striking out seven, and walking five and hitting a batter.