Prep Watch • In last of three games, Generals bounce back from 'horrible' to win
After two sizable losses, Grant High baseball coach Rob Kennewell wasn't sure what to expect from his team in the final game of last week's series with defending PIL 6A champion Wilson. What he got was a pleasant surprise. Sophomore Alek Johnson tamed the Trojans, and Grant won 7-3.
'We got our butts kicked the first two games,' Kennewell says of the 11-3 and 13-1 losses to Wilson. 'I think we walked 15 guys total, and we were horrible the second game. So our guys could have gotten real negative, but they didn't.'
Grant made a few adjustments, such as putting sophomore Eli Edwards behind the plate to take advantage of his hot bat. He responded with a double in the first inning of the third Wilson game, and senior Bryan Butcher's shift from catcher to outfield came off smoothly.
Johnson had played first base for Grant's junior varsity the two days before his varsity start on the mound; the JV games give him a chance to bat. 'He wasn't in the same mental place we were; he hadn't just been thrashed,' Kennewell says.
Grant is blending young talent with veterans (Butcher, first baseman Phil Knight and center fielder Andre Broadous among them). Another sophomore, shortstop Philip Karn, leads the Generals in batting at .420, and freshman Adam Newell pitched well in relief in the first Wilson game.
The Generals will be without their No. 1 pitcher for the rest of the season, though. Senior Taylor Volz broke his foot when he 'landed weird when his cleat got caught on a pitch,' Kennewell says, in a preseason game at Jesuit.
• Wilson coach Mike Clopton was philosophical about the Grant series. 'You win two out of three, you feel good,' he says. Junior David Jaynes led the team versus Grant with .630 hitting (5 of 8). But Clopton and hitting coach Mike Wantland can tell that the Trojans didn't play their best ball. 'We're spending too much time on results versus working on our approach to the game,' Wantland says.
PIL 5A baseball
The four-team league is off to a wild start.
Marshall (1-1 entering the week) rallied from a 6-2 deficit to win 12-8 at Cleveland last week, then gave up three runs in the top of the seventh and fell to Roosevelt 12-10.
Roosevelt (1-1) had lost its opener 16-2 to Madison, making 10 errors, mostly in the outfield. 'First-game jitters,' Roosevelt coach Greg Schwartz says. 'The key the next game was just good team play.'
The Roughrider infield, with Danny Fuhrer moved to third base, Anthony Hulstrom going to second, Cameron Jackson at shortstop and Justin Wilmoth at first, was solid the next time out as Roosevelt slipped past Marshall.
Madison went into this week with a 2-0 record, having beaten Cleveland 8-5, one day after the teams fought to an 11-11 tie through six innings before darkness wiped everything out.
Jordan Duilio, Forrest Rogers and Andrew Good each had a home run last week for the Senators (Good also homered in the 11-11 game). Madison had to hold on in both its victories, though. 'We only won two games all last season, and the kids can't believe we're actually going to win, so they get nervous,' coach Mike Keller says.
Cleveland, young and off to a 0-2 start, will return five suspended players Tuesday and hopes to cut down on its mental and physical mistakes (the Warriors made 13 errors in their first two league games).
Nick Pietrzyk (.500 hitting) and pitcher Darryl Delly have Marshall thinking the state playoffs are possible, 'but our whole league is competitive and pretty balanced,' coach Paul Pietrzyk says.