FREDERICKTOWN — A day later than expected, the Fredericktown High School varsity baseball team opened the 2010 season in a big way on Tuesday. The Freddies blasted the Marion Elgin Comets, 15-1, on their home field.
Fredericktown pounded out 14 hits against two Elgin pitchers, wasting little time getting the offense going. The Freddies scored five runs in each of the first three innings, batting around each time.
“We talked a lot about playing at a high level this season, playing very aggressive, and today we did that,” said Fredericktown coach Matt Smith. “We think one of our strengths as a team, one through nine, is that we can hit the baseball. I was pleased to see we did that. I think our approach was good, and if we do that, we are going to be pretty solid all year.”
Fredericktown also got a stellar performance out of starting pitcher Nate Chilcote. Chilcote threw a no-hitter through four innings, and finished by allowing two hits and one unearned run in the top of the fifth inning. He walked none and struck out three of the 18 batters he faced.
“Nate has taken on the role of our No. 1 starter,” coach Smith said. “Last year, he was very effective as a sophomore, an all-conference player. I think he likes to be on center stage; he puts a lot of effort into what he does. When he is on the mound, he doesn’t blow people away by any means, but he stays in the strike zone and doesn’t walk people. He also has the ability to pitch around mistakes when they happen behind him. He’s got a great mental approach. He’s definitely our No. 1 pitcher, and he showed it tonight.”
“My mind was pretty clear the whole time,” said Chilcote. “(Once they got a hit), I just had to start over and concentrate. ... It helped a lot to have the run support.”
The Freddies’ offense started in the top of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Tyler Hathaway was hit with the first pitch from Elgin’s Justin Klee, and it was on from there. Ty Fox doubled to score Hathaway, C.J. Ruhl followed with an RBI single, and Matt Smith singled. Then after two outs, Justin Snyder laced an RBI single to lead. Snyder capped the inning a couple of batters later, scoring on an error by Elgin shortstop Nick Clyborn.
The second inning proved to be productive for Fredericktown as well. Following a strikeout to start the inning, Ruhl and Matt Smith hit back-to-back singles. Austin Hoeflich then drove in Ruhl with a single down the left-field line. Jordan Radel drove in Matt Smith with an RBI single of his own, but was thrown out trying to advance to second. Hoeflich then scored on another Clyborn error, which allowed Snyder to safely reach base. An error by Elgin second baseman Joel Gruber put Cole Hoeflich on base, and after a wild pitch and a walk to Chilcote to load the bases, Hathaway hit a high pop-up toward second. Gruber lost the ball in the sun, however, and it dropped in, allowing both Snyder and Hoeflich to score for a 10-0 lead.
“We talk about winning every inning,” said Smith. “If we are up 5-0 or down 5-0, our approach has got to be the same. We have to win that inning, and if you put a couple of good innings together, good things are going to happen. It I think that was huge for us. I like that we didn’t let up (after we got the lead); we were still very aggressive in our approach at the plate. Our kids have high expectations for this season, and mentally, I thought they brought a very solid approach tonight, both offensively and defensively.”
Fredericktown capped its scoring in the bottom of the third inning, posting another five runs. Ruhl walked and scored as did Snyder, and Austin Hoeflich singled and scored. Radel also had an RBI single and scored, and Chilcote hit an RBI double and scored on an RBI single by Fox.
“This is really good,” said Chilcote. “After our first two scrimmages, we hadn’t done so well, so it was nice to get a win.”
The excitement of starting the season was evident in the Freddies’ bats. They were originally scheduled to begin the season on Monday night against River Valley, but cold temperatures for a delay.
“We were very hungry after not getting to play last night,” said Smith. “I think they were excited to see the season start. We had a very solid scrimmage on Saturday against a very quality opponent in Heath, and we just wanted to keep it rolling. That’s one thing we have done a nice job of here at Fredericktown during my five years — starting the season strong and getting off to a good start. The kids feed off of that, and they understand the importance of that. We are definitely where we want to be. We just have to keep working because we are not perfect by any means. There is work to be done, and they know that.”
Fredericktown returns to action on Thursday when it travels to another Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference member, Ridgedale, for a nonconference game, starting at 5 p.m.