Momentum shift swings Wildcats past North’s Eagles
Just as quickly as they turned around the baseball season, the De Soto Wildcat 3 and 2 baseball team started to go back the other way in a pair of doubleheaders last week.
De Soto split with the Mill Valley Jaguars, losing the first 12-11 and winning the second 11-3. The Liberty junior varsity swept the Wildcats 5-3 and 8-3 two days later, dropping the team's record to 6-10 on the year.
Lucky for De Soto, it was able to swing team momentum back around in its favor last Thursday with a single game win against the Olathe North Eagles.
De Soto jumped out to a 7-0 advantage after the top half of the second inning and put it on cruise control for the 13-6 win.
"It always helps to jump on top early," Wildcat second baseman Austin DeGraeve said. "It gets them down and makes it difficult for them to get their emotions up, especially since your team is pumped up."
While the middle of De Soto's lineup struggled against the Eagles, the bottom of the batting order stepped up and made up the difference.
Austin Bills, Jake Bosnak and Colby Childers combined, scoring six runs with Childers knocking in three more. The trio walked four times collectively and swiped five bases among them.
"That makes it even better," DeGraeve said of the bottom of the order's heroics. "It builds their confidence and helps them come through with clutch hits when the team needs them."
Not only did De Soto pound out 10 hits, the team was also able to get nine more runners on the pads via the base on balls. The Wildcats put 23 base runners in action in the 13-run outburst.
They were also aggressive once they arrived safely on the bases. In all, the Wildcats stole 15 bases.
"On any given chance we try to be aggressive," DeGraeve said. "If we have a guy on first base with one or fewer outs, we want to send him and try to get out of the double-play situation. It wins you some ball games."
Before the Eagles knew what hit them, the Wildcats were well on their way to snapping the two-game losing skid.
Kenny Price led off the game for De Soto with a single to right.
Following DeGraeve's bunt sacrifice to Eagles pitcher Brent Voth, Tyler Farmer scored the game's first RBI when his stand-up triple to the fence in center field scored Price. Farmer then came home when Riley Pierce singled to left.
De Soto added to its advantage in the top of the second inning after starting pitcher Taylor Burnett got the Eagles out 1-2-3 on a strike out and two ground outs.
Bills grounded an infield single to third base, getting the inning off in favor of the Wildcats. Jake Bosnak's infield single sent Bills to second, and he took third on a misplayed throw to first.
The Wildcats jumped on the scoreboard in the second inning when Childers scored Bills on a ground out to short and Bosnak came home on a single to right by Price.
Price and DeGraeve, who reached base safely on an error at third, scored later in the inning when Crowley dropped Daniel Hoschouer's pop fly. Farmer scored on Burnett's single, rounding out the scoring after he safely boarded the bases following a four-pitch walk.
Olathe North scored two runs in both the second and third innings to cut the deficit to 10-4.
Voth, who pitched two innings as the starter, led off the second stanza with a seven-pitch walk. He crossed home plate safely following Kenny Eisman's stand-up double to the fence in left field. Eisman then scored when Chris Rose poked a single to right field.
The Eagles sent eight batters to the plate in the third inning. Josh Gore got the inning rolling for the Eagles when he sent a single to center field and stole second base moments later.
Chris Burke reached base safely on the next at-bat when he rolled a grounder that was misplayed by De Soto's Farmer at shortstop. Both runners scored when Voth singled to left.
The Wildcats tallied three runs in the top of the third. De Soto then scored two runs in the fourth and a run in the fifth, while the Eagles tallied two runs in the bottom of the fifth, rounding out the scoring.
The game was called after five innings because of the two-hour time limit.
For the Wildcats, the win was a huge boost because they also played well on defense.
"If you can get guys on the bases and play good defense that really helps," DeGraeve said. "We usually have one bad inning defensively, but in that game we played pretty well."
De Soto had five different players score more than one run in the game.
Price, Farmer and starting pitcher Burnett all had multiple hits for the Wildcats as they hit a smothering .360 against Eagles pitching. Olathe North, on the other hand, mustered just a .220 average against De Soto.
De Soto pitchers faced 28 Eagles batters and gave up just five hits and five walks. Just three of the Eagles' six runs were earned. The Eagles were credited with four errors while De Soto had two.
De Soto battles the Vikings 15 in a twin bill at 6:30 and 9 p.m. Thursday on Field 20 at the west 3 and 2 complex.