By Ryan Kaczmarski
It was probably the nicest days outside – so far this young baseball season – on Saturday, and the Avon Eagles varsity baseball team took advantage of it, beating Westlake, 4-1, at a sunny All Pro Freight Stadium.
After leadoff hitter Ian Long reached base on a single and Andrew Lee was hit by an errant Westlake pitch, the Eagles took the advantage on a 2-RBI first-inning double by catcher Shaun Traine, which proved to be the only runs Avon needed.
“We’ve been preaching to our guys that it has to be our blueprint to have strong pitching, play clean defensively when we can and scratch out enough runs to win,” Avon head coach Frank DeSmit said. “So far we’ve been getting lucky and getting some opportunistic hits with guys in scoring position. We got a couple of gap-shots there that helped things, and the guys did a great job on the mound today.”
Avon scored two more runs in the third inning on a one-out triple by Lee.
Avon starter Johnny Morales only gave up one hit in his two innings of work, when Westlake’s Kent Axcell hit a two-out single in the first inning.
“We’ve been trying to lengthen out Johnny’s arm a little bit, because we’re not really sure whether we like him as a starter or a closer – he’s closed a couple of games for us,” DeSmit explained. “His stuff is really good. We thought we’d give him a start, lengthen out his arm and his stuff is so good, that we wanted to put it back on the shelf. We don’t want to use it all up on a Saturday.”
Freshman left-handed pitcher Logan Doenges came in in the third inning in relief, and after a shaky fifth inning, when Westlake loaded the bases and scored on a Ryan Nebraska hit, he settled down and earned the first victory of his high school career.
“The one thing we’ve really had is very good pitching the last few years, but not very many lefties,” DeSmit stated. “It’s nice to have another lefty in the program, now we have a few, so Logan’s looked good and hopefully he can continue to keep improving.”
The win brings Avon’s record to 5-2, while Westlake still tries to find its offensive groove, and falls to 1-4.
“We just need to get better at-bats,” Westlake head coach Brendan Zepp said. “This is the third game in a row, that when we get to the fourth inning, we only have one hit. Slowly our offense starts to come alive, but its too late.
“Defensively, we’re playing better and pitching has been solid.”
Westlake starting pitcher Kal Patterson went five innings and gave up 6 hits, one walk and recorded one strikeout.
“Kal’s a guy who thrives off confidence, and once he started to get the off-speed pitch over the plate, and started mixing it up a little bit, he’ll get stronger,” Zepp explained. “He’s not a strikeout pitcher, so when he throws strikes, they’re going to hit the ball and if we don’t make plays for him (on defense), it’s going to be a struggle.”
Avon continues its schedule tomorrow on the road at Vermilion, while Westlake travels to Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School tonight, both conference matchups.