West Union baseball squad finds win column for the first time in 2016

West Union's Cody Thornberry was the winning pitcher in the Dragons' 3-2 win over Manchester on April 5.  Photo by Mark Carpenter - People's Defender.
West Union’s Cody Thornberry was the winning pitcher in the Dragons’ 3-2 win over Manchester on April 5. Photo by Mark Carpenter – People’s Defender.

Dragons get by Manchester 3-2

By Mark Carpenter – People’s Defender

Just as their softball counterparts were doing on the same day, the West Union boys baseball squad, under the direction of Coach Joe Kramer, picked up their very first win of the 2016 season on Tuesday, April 5 as they held off a late rally by the Manchester Greyhounds to hang on and claim a 3-2 win in Southern Hills Athletic Conference play.

The exciting win was the first for the Dragons after opening the season with seven consecutive losses, while the tough loss dropped the Greyhounds to 3-2 on the season.

The game began as a match up of a pair of right handers, with Sean Frost on the hill for the Hounds and Cody Thornberry taking the ball for the host Dragons. Depending on whose score book you looked at, Frost either came through with a no-hitter and a loss or a two-hitter and a loss, but nevertheless it was a loss as Thornberry pitched 5 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run and then was relieved by freshman Brandon Cornell, who picked up the save, striking out 3 of the 4 batters he faced.

After the two starters matched each other with three scoreless frames, the Dragons broke through to score two runs in the bottom of the fourth. A ground ball down the third base line by Brandon Blevins left him on first base, where he stole second and went to third when Kenneth Stephenson was thrown out at first on a dropped third strike. The next batter was Casey Mullenix, and he also reached on a missed third strike, and when catcher Colton Thornburg’s throw sailed over the first baseman’s head, Blevins trotted home with the game’s first run, while Mullenix went all the way around to third.

With Mullenix at third, a fly ball to center was misplayed by Hounds’ center Rickey DeAtley, something that is a very rare occurrence, and Mullenix came home to make it 2-0 West Union.

The Dragons added to their lead in the bottom of the fifth, when the first three hitters all reached on Manchester errors. A Blevins ground ball to shortstop brought home Jacob Miley to make it 3-0.

After straying too far off of third base, Manchester's Jared Stricklett is tagged out attempting to get back to the base.
After straying too far off of third base, Manchester’s Jared Stricklett is tagged out attempting to get back to the base.

The Greyhounds finally got on the board in the top of the sixth, when Hunter Conley led off with a base hit to center, and went all the way to third when Frost was safe on a West Union miscue. A base hit by Thornburg brought home Conley and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kaulen Cox sent Frost home to make it 3-2. Thornberry was replaced on the mound by the freshman Cornell who struck out Jared Stricklett swinging to leave the tying and go-ahead runs on base.

After the Dragons went down 1-2-3 in the sixth, the Hounds had one more opportunity in the top of the seventh with Cornell still on the mound for West Union. The young right hander made quick work of the Manchester batters, striking out Kaige Cox, getting DeAtley on a pop out to short, and then striking out Conley swinging for the game’s final out in a one-run win for the Dragons.

No matter which score book you refer to, Frost pitched a whale of a game, even in defeat, striking out 12 West Union hitters and not allowing an earned run. Unfortunately for the senior hurler, the Manchester offense could only muster four hits off the offerings of Thornberry and Cornell and seven errors by the Hounds’ defense was too much to overcome.

Both teams were set to be back in action on Monday, April 11, weather allowing, with the Dragons traveling to Eastern Brown and the Hounds playing host to the Whiteoak Wildcats.

MHS 000 002 0 —2

WUHS 000 210 x —3

MHS Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Conley 4-1-1-0, Frost 3-1-0-0, Young 3-0-0-0, Thornburg 3-0-1-1, Kaulen Cox 1-0-0-1, Applegate 2-0-0-0, Stricklett 2-0-1-0, Kaige Cox 3-0-1-0, DeAtley 2-0-0-0, Team 23-2-4-2.

WUHS Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Miley 2-1-0-0, Kramer 3-0-0-0, Cornell 3-0-0-0, Blevins 3-1-1-1, Stephenson 3-0-0-0, Mullenix 2-1-0-1, Thornberry 2-0-0-1, Grooms 3-0-1-0, Cummings 2-0-0-0, Team 23-3-2-3.

MHS Pitching: Frost (L) 6 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 12 K, 90 pitches

WUHS Pitching: Thornberry (W) 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 72 pitches

Cornell (S) 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 K, 24 pitches