After picking up their second win in two days against Mount Gilead, Cardington head coach Jack Bault is hoping his team will be able to continue generating momentum towards the postseason.
“The last couple games versus these guys, it’s nice to finish a couple games in a row,” he said. “We’ll play five good innings and have that one where the wheels go off. We’re looking to build on this.”
Cardington picked up their win behind three big innings. They opened the contest by scoring four in the top of the first inning. After Devin Jackson opened the game with a single, stole second and advanced to third on a Danny Vaught groundout. Nico Wade singled in Jackson. The Pirates then loaded the bases against MG starter Isaac George when Kolton Honeter singled and Daniel Kill was hit by a pitch.
Back-to-back singles by Avery Harper and Nick McAvoy brought two more runs across and Trey Brininger walked with the bases loaded to make it 4-0.
“That’s kind of been our M.O. most of the year,” said Indian coach Greg Gompf. “We have one or two bad innings that compile into a pile of issues and can’t rebound from that. Kudos to Cardington. They came out and were swinging. Their first four were manufactured by their hitting. They did a good job.”
The Pirates would add six more runs in the third inning. Kill led off with a single and Harper put runners on the corners after MG had an errant throw on a bunt attempt. With runners on second and third with one out, Trey Brininger hit a sacrifice fly to bring in a run.
Still, with two outs, MG had a chance to get out of the inning with little damage done. However, Tristan Williamson brought in a run with a single. After Jackson and Vaught reached base to load them, Wade brought in all three with a double. Honeter would then reach base and try to steal second. He would be run down, but held off the defense long enough for Wade to make it a 10-0 game.
“They capitalized and were able to take advantage of our miscues,” said Gompf.
“If you win big innings, you’ll win the game,” said Bault. “Those are back-breakers for the other team when you put up a crooked number and then shut them down.”
The Indians picked up one run off Jacob Spires in the bottom of the third after two scoreless innings. With one out, Riley Conners was hit by a pitch. Mitchell Bell then singled and Conners was able to run all the way home thanks to an outfielder error in fielding the ball. However, the Pirate pitcher was able to induce two outs to get through three innings of ball and earn the win.
“One of those things we talked about with Jacob Spires is he’d been struggling with his command in the strike zone, but the opposing batting average was under .200,” said Bault. “I thought today, he did a great job.”
Cardington added four more runs in the fifth inning, before MG scored three in the bottom of the frame to fall by a 10-run count in five, as Bell, Jacob Lodge and Graham Simpson all drove in runs before the Pirates got three outs.
With a young team, Gompf was pleased at how his players fought until the end and came one run away from extending the contest to at least a sixth inning.
“It was nice to see Brady (Seitz) go one-two-three in the top and then string three-four-five hits and score three runs,” he said. “With us being as young as we are, that’s a positive and we’ll take any as we continue to develop.”
Even though his team is 5-14 overall, Bault has confidence that if they can build on their early-week success, they can be a factor in the postseason tournament.
“These two games were nice and then we have excellent competition with Highland Wednesday and Centerburg Friday to get us ready for the tournament,” he said. “Our conference does an excellent job of preparing for a deep run, especially in Division IV.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS