Freshmen pitchers duel in baseball game between K-P and A-W

Thursday, June 16, 2022
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Kingsley-Pierson’s Kevin Wright pitches in Tuesday's game against Akron-Westfield. He finished with 13 strikeouts.

KINGSLEY — A pair of freshmen started on the mound in Tuesday’s non-conference baseball game between Kingsley-Pierson and Akron-Westfield. The two kept the opposing teams mostly off-balance in what turned out to be a 3-0 win for the Panthers.

Kevin Wright took the mound for K-P and struck out the first four batters he faced, the beginning of a night which would see him pick up 13 total strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

“The two runs we got in the first were huge and took a little pressure off our freshman pitcher,” K-P Head Coach Taylor Doeschot said. “He’s going to be a stud and he’s climbing up the ladder with his starts. This was his biggest start of his career. He’s got a live arm. He’s got a really nasty off-speed pitch and it comes out of the same slot as his fastball and it’s just really hard to pick up.”

Seven of those strikeouts were looking as the Westerners were held scoreless for just the second time this season and saw their bats go quiet after a stretch in which they won six of seven and averaged over 10 runs per game.

“We didn’t have very good at-bats,” A-W Head Coach Gordy Johnson said. “Their guy pitched very well. He mixed his pitches and moved it around and hit his spots. We were just kind of off-balance. They pitched well and we didn’t hit very well tonight, but we will. We had a little hiccup tonight, but we’ll be right back hitting the ball tomorrow.”

The Westerners countered with Hayden Wahlberg who was nearly as effective, albeit with just three strikeouts, but some defensive miscues allowed the runs to score for the Panthers.

(Sentinel Photos By Allen Hamil) Akron-Westfield’s Hayden Wahlberg pitches in Tuesday's game against Kingsley-Pierson.

Damon Schmid and Conner Beelner led off the game with singles for the Panthers. the first run scored on an errant throw by the catcher trying to pick off the runner at third and the other run scored on a misplay by the shortstop.

“We had a bad first inning, gave up a couple unearned runs, and we could have went away, but we didn’t,” Johnson said. “We kept playing hard and we played really well after that. Hayden pitched really well.”

The Westerners had a chance to answer in the top of the second as Jack Terpstra and Wahlberg reached on base hits and Carter Wilken drew a walk to load the bases. Wright worked out of the the jam with his sixth strikeout in the first two innings as he got Tatum Wilken to strike out looking. The Westerners got runners on in the third, fourth and sixth innings, but could not capitalize on those either.

“We had our chances to score some runs and didn’t get it done,” Johnson said. “I’m very proud of my boys. They kept battling all the way through. We want to play good teams and that’s how we’re going to get better.”

K-P added an insurance run in the sixth as Beelner reached on a single and eventually came around to score on a wild pitch.

Beau Bubke pitched the final 1 1/3 innings and struck out three of the four batters he faced to get the save and complete the shutout.

“Beau’s our off-balance guy,” Doeschot said. “He’s kind of quirky with his delivery. He mixes it up all the time and it’s really hard to get his timing. When it comes to getting the final three or four or five outs, he’s someone I trust to do it.”

The win was the fifth in a row for the Panthers, but brought an end to the team’s four straight games of scoring in double digits. Doeschot said though that it was good for his team to face quality pitching at this point in the season to prepare for the postseason.

“Our bats really didn’t get rolling,” Doeschot said. “We needed to see a good pitcher like that and I’m glad we saw him because it makes us better and that kid did a great job for them.”

Kingsley-Pierson improved to 12-3 with the win. Akron-Westfield fell to 10-7 with the loss.

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