After a rocky start to the season, the Wapakoneta varsity baseball team is doing what they can to get back on track.
Back-to-back shutouts isn’t a bad place to start.
Traveling to Kenton Monday afternoon for a makeup of Friday’s game, the Wapakoneta Redskins run-ruled the Kenton Wildcats, 11-0.
“Back-to-back shuts out, we like that, but pitchers still have a little room to grow,” Wapakoneta varsity coach Jason Brandt said. “We gotta work ahead a little better in the count. We gave them a couple free passes, we gotta work better there and keep our pitch count low.”
Chace Culver pitched 4.2 innings to pick up the win. He struck out five batters and gave up only four hits in the shutout. He struggled with getting ahead in the count a couple times and it led to three walks and two hit batters.
His pitch count got up to around 90 by the end of the fifth inning, so the coaching staff called on A.J. Etzkorn to finish out the game. At this point, the Redskins were up seven runs.
“Chace had a little bit of trouble getting ahead right away, and I knew that he had a pitch count limit on him, so I knew I had to come in, get a quick out in the fifth,” Etzkorn said.
The bats were lively for the Redskins Monday, and Brandt said it helped that they were starting to come alive with runners in scoring position, a problem that has plagued them all season.
“Offensively, I thought we did a good job,” Brandt said. “We talked about coming into this game we had only been hitting .267 with runners in scoring position, and I know we did a much better job with that.”
With the shutout win Saturday over New Bremen and the win Monday against Kenton, Brandt said his team is back on the right track.
“Those are some things to build on, two games in a row, we gotta go from there,” Brandt said.
Offensively, Chandler Kaeck went 2-for-3 with a 2-RBI double in the fifth inning. He put down a sacrifice bunt in the first inning and picked up another 2-out single.
“Chandler came up there, he capitalized and gave us to more big ones there, and we were able to build from there,” Brandt said.
Kaeck’s double led to a three-run fifth inning for the Redskins.
“I was just seeing the ball good all day, got that two RBI double in the fifth to right field. It was middle in, and I was just trying to get the ball to the right side to score the run, ended up get the gap and scored two,” Kaeck said.
With the score 7-0, the Redskins were looking in the sixth inning to put three across to extend the lead to 10, to shorten the game by run-rule. Dylan Knoch responded with a double to left center field off the wall that scored two.
“He came off the bench today and provided that instant spark by getting that big double off the wall,” Brandty said of Knoch’s hit. “That’s what makes this fun, if we can get guys to continue to accept roles and know their roles, getting base hits when you start and getting base hits when you sub in, they are just as important.”
Hines also added 2 RBIs in the late innings on a single. He finished the day with 3 RBIs total.
“It wasn’t the hardest hit ball Andrew’s ever hit, but it found it’s spot, and it was able to produce us a couple runs,” Brandt said.
The mood in the dugout was more relaxed Monday. The score could have helped that, but also the pressure seemed to have been lifted.
“We know we’re not going to go undefeated, but I felt last week we were putting a little extra pressure on ourselves,” Brandt said. “We just gotta go out, play our game and have fun. Good things will happen. The mood has been more relax. The guys have been just going out and playing baseball.”