Whitewater came into this week’s three game set with Fayette County as the clear favorite. The Wildcats got the sweep they wanted, but the Tigers more than held their own as a formidable foe. After a 9-5 game one win on Monday, the Cats took game two 4-1 and game three 14-3.
For Whitewater, they put together their best game of the set in Wednesday’s game three.
“We came out a little bit better today. We didn’t play our best baseball this week, but coming out with three wins is always on the plus side,” said Whitewater coach Rusty Bennett.
The number two team in AAAAA is also in control of their region with big matchups against Woodward Academy and Troup looming down the stretch.
“Right now, we’re in pretty good position. It’s all on our table,” said Bennett. “We control our own destiny as far as where we want to finish in the region and these guys know that. These next two weeks are going to be the hardest they’ve had.”
Fayette has plenty to be proud of after hanging with one of the state’s best, especially for a team heavy on youth.
“We played two good games,” said coach Bill Lightle. “We just didn’t play very smart baseball today. When we don’t play smart baseball against a good team, there’s the score.”
It’s a good start for a squad with a bright future.
“We’re a very young baseball team. We threw two freshmen yesterday and one today,” said Lightle. “Our biggest challenge is mental, keeping our hearts and minds in the game.”
Lightle was especially pleased with the play of Drew Hodges who pitched in two of the games, while playing the infield the rest of the time, saying, “he plays big with a big heart.”
Hodges is just one bright spot on a team that battles hard. They’re an athletic bunch with good energy, headed up by vocal leader Bradley Harmon, who kept pumping up his teammates all series long.
The Wildcats shook off a sloppy performance and a tenacious Fayette County Tiger squad in a 9-5 victory Monday afternoon.
Jake Lee started hot on the mound for the Wildcats, striking out the side in the first and second innings. He would go on to K a career-high 13 batters, while walking one and allowing one earned run to pick up the win. Chaz Walker got the start for Fayette and went four and two-thirds innings, striking out two and giving up four runs.
The Wildcats offense struck first in the second inning with a big blast. Miles Jones led off with a double, then Avery Roth cranked a two-run homer over the left field fence.
Fayette clawed back and surged in front in the top of the fifth with the help of Wildcat miscues. Ahmad Ali got the inning started with a single, then was joined on base with a Drew Hodges hit. Both would move up a station on a double steal. Miles Barry put the ball in play and would plate a run for the Tigers on a bad throw home. Whitewater then tried to catch Hodges leaning off third, but the pickoff attempt would ricochet off his back and into the outfield, allowing him to head home and make it 2-2. Kawaan Baker reached on yet another error, scoring Barry to make it 3-2 Fayette.
Whitewater rose to the challenge in the bottom half of the frame, piling up seven runs and going through three Tiger pitchers. Tyler Doanes and Brandon Bell both walked, setting the table for a Miles Jones two-run double to retake the lead. JD Norred singled, then Avery Roth plated a run to make it 5-3. A Connor Nalley walk loaded the bases before Austin Adams perfectly executed the squeeze play to score one more. Levi Whiltock drove in run seven, then Jabari Richards made it eight on a sac fly. Run nine was made possible by heads-up base running from courtesy runner Austin Gardner. Gardner quickly read a ball in the dirt on consecutive pitches and got himself over two bases. Doanes did the rest, driving him in for a 9-3 lead.
Fayette didn’t give up, notching two more runs, one each in the sixth and seventh innings. The first came on a bloop single from Barry to score Sam Delgado. The final tally was off a Hayden Clipp sacrifice fly. Jeremiah Woods finished out the game for the Whitewater bullpen.
Fayette’s best performance came in a game two that saw the Tigers again give the Wildcats a stiff test in a 4-1 loss.
Ethan Gillis was dominant for the Cats, throwing six innings, striking out seven, and giving up one run and three hits to pick up the win. Colby Taylor pitched one inning of scoreless relief for the save.
Drew Hodges got the start for the Tigers and went three steady innings, giving up four runs. Darius Hightower, Bradley Harmon, and Ahmad Ali combined for three innings of scoreless relief.
Connor Nalley got Whitewater on the board first in the bottom of the second inning with an RBI double plating JD Norred.
The bottom of the third was the big frame for the Cats. Levi Whitlock led off with a single to light the fire. Jabari Richards followed with a bunt single before both moved up a base on a throwing error. Tyler Doanes walked to load the bases, and Miles Jones stepped up and crushed a two RBI double over the centerfielder’s head. Norred tacked onto the lead with an RBI knock.
Fayette again showed their resilience in the fourth. Kawaan Baker led off by smoking a solo home run to make it 4-1. Back on defense, the Tigers had their backs against the wall with the bases loaded. Harmon moved over from short stop, got loose, and made his one batter count, forcing a groundout to get out of the jam.
Third baseman Ahmad Ali then came out of the Tiger pen and shined. After a scoreless fifth, Ali loaded the bases with one out, but settled in and shut down down the Cats.
Ali notched an infield single in the top of the seventh and was joined on base after Sam Delgado drew a walk, but Colby Taylor slammed the door shut for the save.
Game three was the first time Whitewater really busted out, pulling away for a 14-3 win.
Hunter White got the start and the win for the Wildcats, going four and one-third innings, striking out three, and giving up two earned runs. Ben Hughlon, Allen Chumley, and Jacob Henley finished the game from the pen.
Drew Hodges started for Fayette and went four innings.
Whitewater wasted no time jumping on Fayette, piling up four runs in the top of the first inning. Miles Jones plated the first on a RBI double to drive in Tyler Burdette. JD Norred pushed two across with a single, and Nick Fink scored one more on a single.
The third inning padded the lead with two more runs. Norred plated one more when he legged out an infield single to score Jones. Fink did the same, hustling out an infield hit to score Jabari Richards for a 6-0 lead.
The fifth inning was also fruitful as Jared Gresham mashed a RBI double and Fink drove in his third run of the game for an 8-0 margin.
As they showed all series, the Tigers refused to back down. They rallied for three runs in the bottom half of the fifth, getting to the Wildcat bullpen. Darius Hightower got it started with a triple and was driven in by Miles Barry. Chaz Walker built on the momentum with a two-run bomb to make it 8-3.
Whitewater shut the door on the Tigers in the sixth with a titanic three-run shot from Jabari Richards. They added three more runs in the seventh, one on a Connor Nalley bases loaded walk and two on a Gresham base knock.
Allen Chumley and Jacob Henley pitched the last two scoreless frames to lock down the Wildcat victory.
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