Wheatmore cools Trinity, 5-2
Strong pitching and timely hitting was exactly what the Wheatmore baseball team needed in beating archrival Trinity.
Zach Lax had a key two-run single in the sixth inning and Chase Saunders struck out 14 in the complete-game win in helping the Warriors rally past the Bulldogs 5-2 on a chilly, breezy Wednesday afternoon at Trinity.
“It was a huge win for us,” Wheatmore coach Bret Garrett said. “That puts us up a game on everybody in the conference. We’ve just got to back it up (tonight). I thought we played really well. When Chase is on the mound, I feel really good about our chances, and eventually we started hitting.
“I think our guys took better approaches at the plate. They actually took what they’ve been taught for the last few years and started hitting. I don’t know what flipped in their brains all of a sudden, but they had good approaches at the plate and did some good stuff for us.”
Trailing 1-0, the Warriors (5-5, 3-0 PAC-6) loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the sixth. Bradley Hunt then hit a one-out single to right to tie the game and Lax followed with a solid single to center to score two runs to give them a 3-1 lead.
Wheatmore then added two in the seventh on RBI singles by Devon Holbrook and Trey Byrd to lead 5-1.
“It was a great win. Everyone likes beating their rivals — that’s the best feeling in the world,” said Lax, a junior left fielder. “For me to get a good hit to put us in the lead, there’s nothing like it. We’ve been kind of struggling at the plate, and everybody came up with a good approach, stayed back and crushed the ball. ...
“I got a fastball on the inside of the plate,” he said, describing his at-bat. “It’s 3-2, so it’s either a walk or a hit. So, I just swung up the middle and I saw it. It was just great. It just like put me on top of a mountain. I’ve never hit a game-winner in basketball or anything like that. That’s what that felt like.”
The Bulldogs (5-5, 2-1 PAC-6) had opportunities in the first, with runners on second and third and no out, and in the sixth, with the bases loaded and no out, but they could not score runs in either inning, as Saunders struck out the side in the first and got a key double-play in the sixth.
Trinity, which got strong pitching from Troy Whittington, did score once in the fourth, as Matt McQuaige tripled and later scored by escaping a rundown, and once in the seventh, as Colin Rosenbaum singled home Landon Scarboro. But that was not enough to overcome the Warriors’ late rally.
“We had our good moments and we had our bad moments,” Bulldogs coach Rob Shore said. “The game’s about opportunities. We had opportunities in the first and sixth and didn’t score any runs. And they did the exact opposite. When they got runners in scoring position, they got the base hits. ...
“Right now, we haven’t played well under pressure. We did beat Randleman last week — and that’s because we hit the ball and scored 11 runs. We can’t score 11 runs every single game, but we have to go out and get base hits with runners in scoring position.”
Saunders picked up his second win, allowing seven hits and just two walks (one intentional) while also tallying two hits offensively. Holbrook also had two hits and two stolen bases, while Bradley Hunt added two hits and an RBI for Wheatmore, which hosts Randleman tonight.
Whittington (2-2) took the loss, despite striking out 10. He allowed four runs on seven hits and four walks for Trinity, which visits Atkins on Friday before hosting Wesleyan Christian on Saturday. David Newcomer went 2 for 4, including a double, to lead the Bulldogs offensively.