HOWARD — The East Knox High School baseball team had high expectations for itself coming into the 2010 season. If the first four games are any indication, a lot of other teams may be looking at the same thing from the Bulldogs.
East Knox won its fourth straight game on Friday, beating West Holmes, 10-4, in its first home game of the year. The Bulldogs gave up an early 2-0 lead, but rallied with three runs in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back in getting the win.
“I thought the big point of the game tonight was that first inning,” said East Knox coach Kevin Gallwitz. “We had a little bit of a rough first inning, gave up a couple of runs. We didn’t get our heads down, though. We were a little bit quiet, but we got back up to the plate and got busy. We scored the three runs to get the lead back, and then just kept getting a few runs and hitting the ball. I think that inning really helped our confidence.”
Bulldog (4-0) starter Michael Hedrick was greeted with a less than warm welcome by the Knights. West Holmes got two runners on by errors and then got an RBI double en route to a 2-0 first-inning lead. Hedrick managed to get out of the inning without further damage being done, however, and the Bulldogs used their sticks in the bottom of the frame.
“The top of (West Holmes’) order is really pretty strong,” Gallwitz said. “The first four or five guys for them did a good job of getting the bat on the ball. Our catcher started mixing it up a little bit on the call, and started calling for breaking stuff a little bit more. We were trying to move it in and move it out, and that helped in the later innings.”
Colton Tucker led off with a triple to left-center field, and that jump-started East Knox. He scored on a passed ball to get the Bulldogs on the score board, but that was just the start. Jonathan Washatka singled, Michael Moreland and Chase Cottrell were hit by pitches to load the bases, and then West Holmes pitcher Greg Carder threw a wild pitch to score Washatka. Jordan Hill hit an RBI single to score Moreland with the third run.
Hedrick sat the Knights down in order in the second and third innings, and the Bulldog offense produced seven more runs over the next three. Hedrick singled and doubled, driving in three, and Charlie Albright doubled. Tony Johnson and Washatka singled to help open a 10-2 lead after four innings.
West Holmes managed to get two runs in the top of the fifth off of Tyler Berger, who came on in relief. That was all the Knights got, however. Berger pitched the rest of the fifth and sixth innings, and Brandon Good pitched a scoreless seventh to wrap up the 10-4 victory.
While the 10 hits produced by the Bulldogs were good in Gallwitz’s mind, the fact that only one runner was left on base was even better.
“We had a pretty tough game at Coshocton,” said Gallwitz. “We left the bases loaded three times down there, so tonight I stressed to the guys, ‘If we get guys on base, we’ve got to put the ball in play and make something happen,’ and we did that. With runners on, we put it in play and were able to get some guys across the plate.”
Hedrick gave up five hits and two unearned runs in his four innings of work. He did not walk a batter and struck out two. Berger allowed two earned runs on two hits and two walks, while striking out two in two innings. Good struck out two of the three batters he faced.
The Bulldogs have a road doubleheader to worry about today before opening Mid-Buckeye Conference play on Monday against defending champion Utica.
“We play Rittman, and as far as I know, we’ve never played them before. I don’t know a lot about them,” said Gallwitz. “They play pretty good baseball up that way, so I expect them to be a pretty good team. We’ve just got to stay focused. ... We can’t be looking ahead. We’ve got to take care of the next game as it comes, and hopefully, take care of business.”