Hot bats don’t hang around
The actual season-opening game could not have gone much better for the De Soto boys baseball team.
That did little to comfort the Wildcats after they dropped the second game of Tuesday's season-opening doubleheader though.
De Soto mixed the great with the frustrating in its split with Wellsville, taking the first game via run-rule, 13-2, while dropping the second without mustering but the weakest of offensive efforts, 4-1.
"We just couldn't get a hit," senior Austin DeGraeve said of the second game. "We hit the ball, but not as well. We couldn't buy a hit or find a gap. They made a few plays and their pitcher was just good."
The letdown of the second game came as even more of a surprise considering the commanding pop De Soto played the first game with.
Travis Crow scored the Cats' first run of the season on a Tyler Farmer single.
Farmer watched his first two pitches sail by and get called strikes, then he watched again as two balls sailed by. Finally he swung, hammering a shot through the infield and sending Crow scurrying around third base.
It was a sign of things to come. De Soto was careful in selecting its pitches, and when the Cats swung, they left a mark. The first four batters of the second inning all got aboard, Jake Bosnak reaching with a single and Erik Hill scoring both Bosnak and Aaron Hanson with a double.
Austin DeGraeve also added two RBI's in De Soto's seven-run second inning, hitting a single that scored Hill and Jerin Riffel.
"We were just up. We were pumped up and ready to play," DeGraeve said. "We were ready to go. We've been practicing for the last few weeks and we were prepared.
"It was good to jump out on top of them like that."
De Soto was again hot in the fourth inning, though at that point the Wellsville pitching staff was making life fairly easy.
Two of the first three batters in the inning were hit by pitches while the third drew a walk. Brady Maasen picked up his second RBI of the day with a single while Hanson notched three with a bases-clearing triple.
Jerod Bader, who scored two runs at the plate, did plenty to ensure De Soto's two largest innings would be enough while working from the pitcher's mound. He struck out two in the first inning, two more in the second and struck out the side in the fourth.
His only lapse came in the second inning when an Eagles single scored two in a bases-loaded situation.
Otherwise, Bader cruised. He often had to work around runners -- he allowed seven hits, a walk and hit a batter in the five innings -- but forced ground balls for the final two outs in the fifth inning.
"We just hit the ball and Jerod pitched very well," De Soto coach Joel Thaemert said. "He got ahead of hitters, and offensively, we crushed that guy."
De Soto struggled to find even a fraction of that offense in the second game, however. Never was the team's frustrations better summed up than in the seventh and final inning, the Cats digging deep for a rally.
Hanson blasted a pitch into left field, the ball going high, deep and directly at the fielder.
Bosnak produced a mirror image for the team's second out, flying out to deep right.
Finally, Hill caught a strike and sent it rocketing over the infield, a line drive that would have decapitated the center fielder had he not wrapped the game's final out safely in his glove.
De Soto had just two hits, both coming in a third inning that saw Maasen score De Soto's only run. No Cat reached base in the first, fifth, sixth or the seventh inning.
"Their pitcher pitched well, that was the difference," Thaemert said. "He didn't walk anyone and just did a great job.
Farmer, meanwhile, didn't escape runners while pitching the way Bader had in the first game. He made it through the first two innings without giving up a hit, but allowed three consecutive and four total walks in the third. Wellsville scored three in the inning and though Farmer recovered to pitch well in the fourth and Dustin Grimes provided stable relief in the sixth and the seventh, three runs was far too many for De Soto's dormant bats.
"Tyler bounced back from (the third) inning really well. I left him in because I wanted to see how he'd respond. I'd heard what a competitor he was, and he showed me," Thaemert said. "We just couldn't string anything together. I've got to do a better job creating offense there. I don't know these guys very well yet, so I have to do a better job.
"Our offense will come around. I told the guys we don't want to be peaking right now anyway."