Pitching, defense lead Blair Oaks past Eldon
Friday, March 28, 2014
WARDSVILLE — It took a while for the bats to heat up.
Blair Oaks’ pitching and defense made sure that didn’t matter.
Bryce Pritchett tossed six scoreless innings, aided by three terrific defensive plays behind him, as Blair Oaks defeated Eldon 10-0 on Friday evening at the Falcon Athletic Complex.
“You see what happens when you throw strikes, you don’t walk people and you play defense behind him,” Blair Oaks head coach Harv Antle said. “Good things are going to happen.”
Pritchett, a junior right-hander, made just his second career varsity start Friday. He allowed four hits with four strikeouts and zero walks. In two starts this season, Pritchett has thrown 11 innings, allowed zero runs and given up just five hits.
“Bryce had a fantastic summer for us and threw in the fall as well,” Antle said. “He’s not overpowering. He’s not going to light up the radar gun, but what he does do is he sinks the ball, he’s got a lot of movement, his ball is heavy at times, he understands how to change speeds and he makes them put it in play. We understand that we have to play defense behind him. Outside of a couple of bleeders that they had, we made the plays.”
Cody Stegemann provided all the offense Pritchett needed with an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning.
“We felt like we were in control throughout,” Antle said. “We got an early run and played from in front. That always makes it a little bit easier.”
The first terrific defensive play came after Eldon’s Chris Karch smacked a single down the left-field line in the third inning. While trying to stretch it into a double, Falcon left fielder Ryan Wilbers threw a dart to shortstop Stegemann, who then rifled it to second baseman Dylan Hoelscher for the out.
Blair Oaks carried that momentum into the bottom of the frame, adding three runs. Logan Gratz made it 2-0 on a run-scoring infield single, Wilbers drew a bases-loaded walk and Dalton Fifer added a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0. Blair Oaks made it 5-0 in the fourth on a balk with runners at the corners.
That’s when the two defensive plays of the game thwarted an Eldon rally.
After a leadoff single from Chris Hulsey, Blair Oaks turned a nifty 6-4-3 double play.
“The double play that Cody (Stegemann) and Dylan (Hoelscher) turned in the middle was highlight-reel stuff,” Antle said.
Then Jesse Carman smacked a double down the left-field line. Austin Rodgers followed with a sharp single to right, but Blair Oaks right fielder Brent Heckemeyer charged and threw a rocket to the plate that got Carman by a couple steps.
“We didn’t capitalize on some key opportunities when we had some runners in scoring position,” Eldon head coach Tyler Russell said. “Didn’t quite get the hits we needed today.”
Blair Oaks ended the game with five runs in the sixth inning.
Stegemann started the scoring with an RBI double, Gratz added a two-run double, Wilbers continued the hit parade with a run-scoring double and Fifer ended the game with a walk-off single to left.
“Big last inning to put them away,” Antle said. “Once again you saw different guys in the order coming through. Our lineup is different each time we go out, but everybody’s buying in, everybody’s taking a role and everybody’s doing their job. They’re all pulling for each other too. It’s a total team effort.”
Karch, making his first varsity start for Eldon, was solid through the first five innings. He allowed four earned runs on four hits before running into trouble in the sixth.
“Heck of an outing for his first varsity start for Chris Karch,” Russell said. “Couldn’t ask for any more out of him.”
Eldon (1-2) travels Tuesday to Fulton.
Blair Oaks (4-0) travels Monday to North Callaway.
“We couldn’t ask for a better start,” Antle said.
In the JV game, Blair Oaks was a 15-5 winner. Austin Herigon was the winning pitcher.
Frankie Falotico had three hits and three RBI, while Jordan Hair added two hits. Clayton Graessle drove in two runs for the Falcons (2-0).
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