Pyle stacks up in Baldwin win
Tuesday's wind hit gusts of up to 45 mph, and Andrew Pyle hit gusts of up to 400 feet.
The rival Baldwin Bulldogs paid a visit to Eudora, splitting a doubleheader in a tale of two contrasting games. The Cardinals slugged their way to an 18-8 run-rule victory in game one before being shut down by Andrew Hannon 6-1 in the nightcap.
The first game was significant because it counted toward Frontier League standings.
"I was happy we won the first one, but at the same time, I was disappointed in the outcome of the second," said coach Dirk Kinney. "I don't accept or like splits."
The loss snapped Eudora's early three-game winning streak.
Any loss at the hands of a bitter rival is difficult ,but Kinney took the setback in stride.
"Three and one is three and one. I'd rather be four and zero, but different pitchers, different ballgame," Kinney said. "(Baldwin) embarrassed us twice last year. I was really proud we came out and got a little redemption."
The early moments of the first game gave indication that this could be a wild one. Eudora committed its first of four errors in the game early leading to a quick 3-0 Baldwin advantage.
Eudora, with aid of a couple of well-placed bloops and a Baldwin throwing error, responded with three of its own.
The Bulldogs, thanks to yet another throwing error, plated three runs in the top of the second. After Eudora went down 1-2-3 in the same inning, the team's fortitude and mental toughness were put to the test. Looking back on last year's struggles, the Cardinals could have yielded to doubt. Instead Eudora executed a 1-2-3 inning of its own, and a buzz filled the Cardinal dugout.
Junior second baseman Aaron Westerhouse drilled a single to left. Senior shortstop Pyle followed with the same. Sophomore cleanup hitter Cole Massey singled in a run. Senior third baseman Heath Fanning laced one up the middle -- another run in. Senior left fielder Tyler Jackson skipped a hard grounder past the shortstop and through the wickets of the Baldwin left fielder, the inning's third run. Junior catcher Troy Van Horn crushed a liner over the center fielder for two bases.
The five-run rally was stifled by a sensational play by the Bulldog pitcher. Sophomore right fielder Paul Smith tried to lay down a surprise bunt but popped it up just enough for the Baldwin hurler to execute a diving catch and then double up Van Horn at second. Senior designated hitter Steven Rehmer struck out, but the Cardinals had jumped ahead 8-6.
Another 1-2-3 inning followed for Eudora starter senior Seth Johnson, who struck out the final batter in each of the first four innings.
The Cardinals started another no-out rally with a single by sophomore lead-off hitter Rod Evinger. Westerhouse reached on an error and two were on for Pyle. The Cardinal slugger crushed a line drive over the left field fence for a three-run homerun. The Cardinal batted around with three singles, a couple walks, a hit batsman and a pair of fielder choices. Pyle was at the plate for the second time in the inning, this time with the bases loaded and a new pitcher on the mound. Pyle launched the ball into the wind and over the 400-foot sign in center field for a grand slam, his second home run of the inning, his seventh RBI of the inning, and ninth of the game.
"I was pretty happy with the way we hit the ball," Kinney said. "They threw their No. 1 and 2 pitchers at us."
Baldwin tried to escape a run-rule loss with a couple of runs in the top of the fifth, but a play by Pyle at shortstop ended the brief rally and the game.
In the second game the team's switched to wood bats and Baldwin's junior Hannon took the mound.
Hannon starred for the Baldwin basketball team that lost a pair of games to Eudora this year including a 50-44 loss in the sub-state semifinals. The Bulldog star no doubt was searching for a little revenge.
A one-run, three-hit gem will do the trick.
"Hannon had good stuff," Kinney said. "He had a good forkball that was dancing well with the wind. When a pitcher's on, he can dominate a game."
Hannon was sharp while the Cardinals' intensity seemed to have lessened. Eudora was sloppy on defense committing another handful of errors, leading directly to the Bulldogs six runs.
"Defensively I was disappointed," Kinney said. "In two games against Pleasant Ridge we had no errors."
The Cards did have one bright spot in the second game. Senior reliever Tyler Wingebach took over for junior starter Chris Gabriel with two out in the fifth. Wingebach recorded six of the final seven Bulldog outs by way of strikeout.
"Wingebach was strong," Kinney said. "He might pitch in every game this year. He's learning his role.
"Overall I'm satisfied, but satisfied doesn't win you championships or state baseball games."
Offensive stars in the doubleheader for the Cardinals were Pyle, who went 5-for-7, with eight RBIs and two home runs; Westerhouse, 3-for-7; Fanning, 3-for-7; and Jackson, 3-for-5 with two walks.