A rough couple of weeks at the plate, culminating in a loss to a cross-town rival, forced Delone Catholic to go back to the basics in the batter’s box.
For two days following Monday’s loss to Hanover, the Squires worked in the cage in an attempt to revive and refine their batting approach.
Delone showed off the results of that effort Thursday, as the Squires had nine-run and seven-run innings in a 16-1 victory over Fairfield in a YAIAA-4 contest in McSherrystown.
Delone knocked out 10 hits and drew eight walks against just one strikeout, and every starter in the Squire lineup crossed the plate at least once. The win helped solidify Delone’s District 3 Class 2A playoff standing, with the Squires having entered the game no. 6 in the power rankings; eight teams qualify.
“The last two days have been nothing but a hitting approach at practice,” Delone coach Dave Neumayer said. “We didn’t have that approach on Monday (against Hanover). We were 1-for-14 at the top of the lineup. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we had these guys more attentive than we’ve seen all year, asking questions and wondering how they could do better.”
The Squires were eager to apply the lessons. After falling behind 1-0 in the first on Andy Koons’ RBI infield single, Delone hung a crooked number in its first trip to the plate. Leadoff man Avery Kuntz roped the first pitch he saw into left for a single, and the next four batters behind him would reach base.
Delone put together its nine-run frame with a lot of ingredients, with four base hits from the Squires, four walks, a pair of Fairfield errors, and a hit by pitch. Run-scoring hits went to Kuntz (in his second time around) and Squire starting pitcher Tyler Hilson.
“I’ve been in a little bit of a slump, so my goal right now is be aggressive and to see a strike, hit a strike,” Kuntz said. “In practice we’ve been really stressing our batting approaches and how we should be going up to the plate and hitting against different pitchers. We’ve been having a rough couple of games, so everyone had to go up and be aggressive.”
Delone’s big first inning forced Fairfield skipper Dave Hazlett into making the decision to preserve his pitching staff for an upcoming run of six games in eight days, including a home rematch with the Squires. Andy Koons would get the final out of the first and supply two more innings of relief, and five players ultimately toed the rubber Thursday for the Knights.
“It became pretty evident really early that we were struggling today, so I made a conscious decision to pull our arms and save their pitches for another day because of the pitch counts,” Hazlett said. “We have to throw strikes, it’s a simple as that. Whoever’s pitching for us, we have to throw strikes. The schedule is setting favorably for us. We have some games that are winnable coming up.”
The Squires pocketed a pair of runs in the second inning on Harrison Smith’s RBI double and Aidan Wittmer’s RBI fielder’s choice. They then brought an early close to proceedings with their seven-run fourth inning, which included a trio of bases-loaded walks. Schussler added an RBI single.
The top four spots in the Squire lineup combined for six hits, five walks, and eight runs scored. Schussler and Kuntz both finished the 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Brodie Collins was 2-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored. Hilson was efficient after allowing the early run, allowing one hit and no walks over his final three innings. He also had a pair of pickoffs.
Fairfield 100 0 — 1 3 7
Delone Catholic 920 7 — 16 10 1
Jake Myers, Andy Koons (1), Griffin Tabler (4), Cody Valentine (6), Joel Miller (4) and Will Myers. Tyler Hilson and Brodie Collins. WP: Hilson. LP: J. Myers. SO-BB: FF-J. Myers 0-4, Koons 1-1, Tabler 0-2, Valentine 0-1, Miller 0-0; DC-Hilson 2-1. 2B: DC-Harrison Smith, Wyatt Schussler.