Early home runs deflate baseball team
OTTAWA — Home runs can boost a baseball team’s confidence … or deflate its spirits.
Tuesday’s Frontier League doubleheader here saw both emotions. For the home team Cyclones, their four home runs in the first game built enough confidence to sweep the games.
However, the Baldwin High School baseball team fell victim to the Cyclones’ homers. BHS lost 17-5 and 12-3 to fall to 0-3 on the season after losing at Saint James Academy last week.
“They jumped on us early tonight,” coach Brock Hartshorn said. “Our pitching is still lagging behind. We are not throwing a lot of strikes right now. Teams are jumping on us in the beginning and then we are playing from behind, which is really tough to do.
“That first game took the air out of us,” he said. “Any time a team scores 17 on you, it’s going to deflate you as a team.”
Ottawa’s four home runs came in the first two innings of the opening contest. Those runs helped Ottawa build an 11-0 lead after two innings. Baldwin did respond with a small rally in the fourth inning.
Sophomore Will Von Bargen, senior Andy Thurlow, sophomore Josh Hoffman and sophomore Justin Vander Tuig each scored in the top of the inning. Von Bargen and Thurlow scored on a passed ball and error. Then sophomore Kyle Pattrick hit a two-run double to score Hoffman and Vander Tuig.
“Our kids did battle back in the first game,” Hartshorn said. “They got down 11-0, but extended the game from being three innings to five innings. We hit the ball better than a week ago.”
The Cyclones rallied with six more runs later in the game to run-rule the Bulldogs. Vander Tuig said too many early runs, especially home runs, doomed the Bulldogs.
“When you get down early, it makes it harder to battle back, especially when they hit as many home runs as they hit on us,” Vander Tuig said. “We just need to try and battle our way back in slowly. We just need to get base hits each time we are up to bat, but we just didn’t get enough of them.”
Ottawa wasn’t the only team hitting home runs on Tuesday. Baldwin did hit a pair — one in each game. Von Bargen and Vander Tuig each hit their first career homers as Bulldogs.
“It was actually the first career home runs for both of those guys,” Hartshorn said. “Hopefully, there are many more to come with those kids being sophomores.”
Von Bargen’s was a solo shot in the fifth inning, while Vander Tuig’s was also a solo in the sixth inning. Both home runs cleared the left-center field fence.
“It always feels good to hit a home run,” Vander Tuig said. “It’s nice when the whole team congratulates you on something. It felt good to hit my first one.”
In the second contest, BHS fell behind 4-0 early, before scoring one run. Then Ottawa poured on six more runs to build a 10-1 lead. Hoffman and sophomore Jesse McDaniels scored the other runs for BHS.
“A positive we can take away from tonight is in the second game, we seemed like we batted a little better than we did in the first game,” Vander Tuig said. “We also got to play the full game. We got to bat seven innings.
“We need to work on coming to play harder at the start of the game,” he said. “We need to play harder in the early innings and not just late in the game. If we do that, we’ll be a lot better.”
Baldwin will now travel to Wellsville for a doubleheader today. The first game will begin at 4:30 p.m. On Tuesday, the Bulldogs will host their first home contests of the season. They will play Spring Hill at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“The kids will be excited to play their first games at home against Spring Hill,” Hartshorn said.