There once was a Nike TV commercial in the 1990s featuring Hall-of-Fame pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine for Major League Baseball that made the statement, “Chicks dig the long ball.”
That was when guys like Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds were busy mashing moon shots into orbit on a regular basis.
On Sunday, July 29 Lauren Moose and Kaufman Realty played their own version of long ball, and the home runs were all instrumental in the split of this pair of upper echelon Class A baseball teams.
Moose got key home runs from Cobe Hutchinson and Easton Guspyt in its 6-1 victory in game one while Stone King came through with a big knock for KR to help push the Orange past Moose 5-1 in the nightcap.
Moose ace Anthony Barson squared off with Kaufman’s Garrett Harstine in a great pitcher’s duel in game one.
Guspyt laced a 1-2 offering from Harstine over the wall in center leading off the second inning to give Moose a 1-0 lead, and Kaufman came back to tie it in the bottom of the third when Scott Troyer singled with one out, moved up on a bunt and tore home on Richie Mast’s single.
That was pretty much the extent of any kind of offensive output until the sixth inning when Moose mounted a major threat. Harstine started to tire. He walked one and hit a batter before escaping with a huge strikeout.
Todd Ropp singled for Kaufman in the bottom of the sixth, but Barson induced a double-play ground out from Austin Marko to end that threat.
KR head coach Clippy Yoder stuck with Harstine to begin the seventh, and Moose made that a bad decision when it finally broke through.
Hunter Striker started the inning with a double, and after a fielder’s choice left runners on the corner, up stepped Hutchinson, who crushed a ball to left for a three-run home run and a 4-1 Moose lead. Joe Crank tripled, and after getting a line-out to center off the bat of Guspyt, Joe McGinty singled home Crank for the 5-1 lead.
Braden Mast came on and recorded a quick out to end the inning, and Kaufman went down easily in the bottom, thanks to another nice double play.
Barson was brilliant on the mound, where he twirled a complete-game four-hitter, allowing just the one run while striking out three and walking four. Harstine continued to throw well, despite picking up the loss. He went 6 and two-third innings, allowing eight hits and five runs, striking out seven and walking one. The seventh proved to be his undoing as he had allowed just four hits to that point.
The nightcap featured another nice pitching matchup between Moose’s Cade Cummings and Kaufman lefty Jordan Yoder. Yoder was coming off of a no-hitter against the Blue Wave, and his roll continued as he went a strong seven innings, allowing just three hits while striking out nine and walking one.
Lauren Moose started things off well, collecting all three of those hits in the first inning when they touched up Yoder for their lone run. In that start Hutchinson singled, took second on Crank’s single and scampered home on a double off the bat of Guspyt.
That would be not just the end of the scoring for Moose, but also it would record only one more hit off of Yoder, who dominated the rest of the way.
Kaufman responded with the bats quickly, collecting three runs in the first inning. Bryan Yoder singled with one out, and with two outs Hayden Mobley mashed a triple to right-center to tie the game. Todd Ropp walked, and back-to-back singles from Brandt Miller and Mitch Massaro gave KR a 3-1 edge.
Kaufman would build its lead to 5-1 in the fourth inning when Massaro would single and Cordell Miller would double him to third base. With two outs Troyer doubled to center to score both to make it 5-1. In the sixth inning Stone King would put the exclamation point on the Kaufman victory by lashing one over the fence in right-center.
The split continues this terrific rivalry between the two top teams in Tuscarawas County Class A baseball this summer. Moose now stands at a league-leading 20-4 on the year while Kaufman Realty is right behind at 18-6.