West Union tops Manchester 6-1 in SHAC play –
By Mark Carpenter –
After a long wait on the unpredictable spring weather in southern Ohio, Coach Joe Kramer and his West Union Dragons baseball squad finally got to open their 2018 season on Monday, April 2 as they battled the Manchester Greyhounds in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
On a chilly but dry afternoon, the game was scheduled to be played in West Union but the Dragons’ home field was unplayable, forcing the game to be moved to Manchester, where the Dragons were still considered the home team.
No matter where the game was played, the opener was an all-around successful one for Kramer’s troops, as they rode the strong left arm and big bat of southpaw Jared Fenton to a 6-1 win over the Greyhounds. Fenton was dominant on the hill, allowing just three hits and striking out 17 in a complete game performance and for good measure, drove in two runs, including a solo homer over the right field fence in the bottom of the fifth inning.
“The weather conditions made it a great day for pitchers who threw strikes,” said Coach Kramer.
Right hander Josh Tumbleson got the starting nod for the Greyhounds and he matched Fenton with two scoreless frames, until the Dragons got all the runs they needed with a four-spot in the bottom half of the third.
Alex Hirsch and Brycen Staten led off the inning with back to back walks and the bases were full after an infield hit by Brandan Cornell. Fenton drew a six-pitch walk to force home the game’s first run and a Greyhound error on a Dylan Grooms ground ball allowed Staten and Cornell to scamper home to make it 3-0.
A Brandon Blevins ground out to second base brought Fenton across with the fourth run of the inning, but Tumbleson escaped further trouble when Michael Carson lined into an inning-ending double play.
The Greyhounds answered with what turned out to be their only run of the day in the top of the fourth when Kyle Reaves reached on an error and advanced to second when Kaige Cox was plunked by a 2-1 Fenton pitch. Another West Union miscue on a grounder off the bat of Jacob Calvert loaded the bases and a walk to Jalen James forced Reaves home to make it 4-1.
The Dragons filled the bases again with two out in the bottom of the fourth and Manchester head coach Dustin Cook called on reliever Brady Flack, who got the job done by inducing Cornell to bounce into a double play.
With Flack still on the mound for the Hounds, Fenton led off the inning and wasted no time, blasting the first pitch he saw over the right field fence to give his team a four-run cushion. In their half of the sixth, the Dragons added one more when Elijah McCarty led off with a walk and eventually came around to score on a Greyhound error.
“When Jared hit his home run, I knew it was out, but then I felt the chilly breeze in the air and watched the right fielder drift to the fence,” said Kramer. “I just had to hold my breath until I saw the ball clear the fence.”
In their final at-bat, the Greyhounds got a base hit from Gage Lucas, but Fenton fanned Avery Reed, Reaves, and Cox to finish off an outstanding day on the mound and seal the deal for the Dragons in a 6-1 win.
The two teams combined for just seven hits in the contest, four of those coming from the West Union side, but the Dragons took advantage of eight walks issued by Manchester hurlers and four Greyhound errors to claim the victory. Gage Lucas had all three of the Manchester base knocks.
Fenton got the win with his complete game 17-strikeout day, while Tumbleson went 3 1/3 innings and was tagged with the loss.
“When a pitcher gets eight or nine strikeouts, it’s a good game so when Jared ended up with 17, you knew you had seen a special performance,” said Kramer of his big left-hander’s outing.
Since Monday and as of press time, the Dragons have not been able to get back on the diamond, while the Hounds were able to get part of a game played on Tuesday with Fairfield, before the storms that traveled through that evening forced the teams off the field.
Both teams, weather permitting, are scheduled to be in non-conference action on Saturday, April 7, with the Dragons traveling to Felicity for an 11 a.m. doubleheader, while the Hounds will be at Sciotoville East for a doubleheader, also with an 11 a.m. scheduled start.
Manchester Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Lucas 4-0-3-0, Reaves 4-1-0-0, Cox 2-0-0-0, Calvert 3-0-0-0, James 2-0-0-1, Tumbleson 3-0-0-0, Flack 2-0-0-0, Colvin 2-0-0-0, Reed 3-0-0-0, Thompson 1-0-0-0, Team 26-1-3-1.
W. Union Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Blevins 3-0-0-1, Carson 3-0-1-0, Cornell 3-1-1-0, Fenton 2-2-1-2, G. Grooms 2-0-0-0, D. Grooms 2-0-0-2, Hirsch 3-1-1-0, Madden 1-0-0-0, McCarty 2-1-0-0, Staten 1-1-0-0, Team 22-6-4-5.
Extra-Base Hits: Fenton HR
Tumbleson (L) 3.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 4 K, 82 pitches
Flack 2.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1K, 37 pitches
W. Union Pitching:
Fenton (W) 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 17 K, 119 pitches