UTICA — Utica baseball coach Bren Henderson has preached discipline to his hitters all season long.
He wants his team to be patient, waiting on a pitch they can drive and then putting a solid bat on the ball.
For three innings Friday, it wasn’t happening for the Utica Redskins. But, once the team settled down and became more disciplined at the plate, success followed in a big way.
The Redskins smacked three home runs in the fifth inning to beat Fredericktown, 8-6, in a major Mid-Buckeye Conference tilt at Utica.
“We just told our kids to stay off the high stuff. We knew we could hit their pitchers, we just needed a little more discipline,” said Henderson. “When we stay disciplined, we can really hit.”
The Redskins (13-5) trailed 2-0 through three innings, but rallied, with a little help, to tie the game at 2. After watching the Freddies retake the lead in the top half of the fifth, the fireworks exploded in a big way for Utica.
Brett Robberts led off the inning with a monster blast to left field. After an out, Jeremy Jenkins hit a solo home run to left center field. Kyle Gattrell followed with a double and Dakota Young walked, setting up Drew Beaver for some heroics.
The Redskin catcher didn’t disappoint, blasting a three-run shot to give Utica the lead for good.
“We had whittled away. We tied it up the inning before. We just kept pecking away,” said Henderson. “They left one up to Robberts and he killed it. Then, obviously, Jenkins hit a hanging curve ball and drove it out, and Beaver stayed back on a nice fastball and there you go.”
“There were a couple of pitches that got up,” said Fredericktown coach Tom Craze. “I thought to that point, he (Nash Cunningham) pitched well. A few mistakes where you hang a couple to a good team like this that can hit the baseball, those things can really cost you.