by Hunter Dawkins
The Long Beach Bearcats baseball team earned their second consecutive victory over a MHSAA 6A classification Friday night against the West Harrison Hurricanes 5-2. Even though the Bearcats (2-0) scored a majority of their runs in the top of the third inning off two errors, Long Beach got out of the jam from the mound by only allowing 4 hits, 2 earned runs, and threw 16 strikeouts.
“The guys have kept competing, we have talked about it and the boys are coming out playing the game of baseball,” said Long Beach Head Baseball Coach Conner Douglas. “We put ourselves in a few bad situations, but we kept competing and got ourselves out of it. I am very proud of the guys.”
After a steal in the top of the third inning, Bearcats shortstop Brent Garner scored the first run of the game when Long Beach first baseman Cameron Fennell hit a hard single in the gap. Two plays later, the Bearcats scored three more runs with two errors on a passed ball and pop fly.
“We certainly have to quit giving up the big innings,” said West Harrison Head Baseball Coach David Marsland. “We’ve had the same philosophy the last 5 years with defense and pitching, just have to avoid having that one bad inning.”
Following the third inning, the Bearcats leadoff senior designated hitter Dalton Cook hit a deep double in the top of the fourth inning, scoring Long Beach third baseman Charlie Starita for a 5-0 cushion.
The Hurricanes did not go away, as Blake Necaise doubled off the wall in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring West Harrison’s Josh DeCoito. Even with the bases loaded after a few walks, Garner came in and struck out the side.
Garner allowed the bases loaded again in the bottom of the fifth inning, but did the same thing, as he struck three batters in a row. Fennell came in the bottom of the sixth inning, loaded the bases and walked in a run allowing Justin Seal to clear the bases to slim the cushion to 5-2, Long Beach lead.
Unfortunately for the ‘Canes, the Bearcats struck out the final two batters and went 1-2-3 easily in the bottom of the seventh to seal the victory. Ethan Nichols started the game for Long Beach, tossing three innings and allowing one run with 7 strikeouts contributed.
“We want to get the guys a lot of reps from the mound,” expressed Douglas. “It’s early and it’s cold tonight, we don’t want to put too much pressure on anyone’s arm.”
The Long Beach Bearcats will play their next matchup Saturday afternoon at 1pm in the Rutledge Field hosting West Harrison again.