DeWITT – The thermometer wasn’t the only thing that was red-hot during Louisville/Weeping Water’s opening state baseball game Saturday afternoon.
L/WW produced a sizzling performance at the plate as well.
The Lions pounded 21 hits in their 23-3 victory over Pierce at the Class C State Junior Legion Tournament. L/WW scored in every inning of the first-round game and generated 18 combined runs in the third and fourth frames. The game ended due to mercy rule in the fifth inning.
Louisville/Weeping Water head coach Monty Daganaar said he was pleased to see the Lions carry their district success over to the state level. The team won the Area C3 Tournament earlier in the week by scoring more than 10 runs in four of the six games. That included an 18-2 victory over Malcolm in the title contest.
“I’m really proud of the guys for the way they played today,” Daganaar said. “I’d say that was one of our most complete games that we’ve played this season. We fielded well, we hit well and our pitching was great.
“It’s neat to win that way here at state, because we did that against a good team that came in here with a lot of momentum from their district tournament too. The guys really made a statement about what they want to do here this week.”
Daganaar said the Lions entered the state tournament with a desire to perform well for L/WW baseball player Braydon Yardley, who graduated from Louisville this past spring. Yardley was diagnosed with fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma this past school year and has been battling the cancer since then. Junior Legion players hung his home and road baseball jerseys in their dugout during Saturday’s game.
“This is a really inspired team right now,” Daganaar said. “They’re doing all of this for Braydon Yardley. Everything they’ve done this season and at districts has been for him, and now they’re doing it for him at state too.
“It chokes me up to talk about it because it’s so neat to see these guys thinking about more than themselves. This is such an unselfish group of guys, and they’ve really made it their goal to do this for Braydon.”
L/WW took a 1-0 lead after Tyler Mackling drilled a double on the first pitch of the game. He moved to third on a groundout and came home on an infield error.
The Lions scored again in the second when Jake Renner knocked a leadoff double and moved to third on Avery Heath’s sacrifice bunt. Gage Scholting then drove in Renner with a single to center.
Louisville/Weeping Water erased all doubt about the outcome in the third and fourth innings. The team scored eight times in the third inning on six hits, one walk, one error, one sacrifice bunt and two hit-by-pitches. Josh Nolte blasted a two-run ground-rule double and Scholting and Treyton Savage each added two-RBI singles in the frame.
L/WW then tacked on ten runs on eight hits, three walks and one hit-by-pitch in the fourth. Savage, Renner and Sam Ahl each drove in two runs and Heath and Scholting each had one RBI. The team sent 13 batters to the plate in the third inning and 15 in the fourth.
“The guys really stayed focused at the plate and got on a roll today,” Daganaar said. “The big thing is that we stayed mentally into it the whole time. Everybody in the dugout was cheering for the person who was up to bat. They kept that going from the opening pitch to the end of the game.”
Scholting produced three singles, two walks, four RBI and two runs. Renner finished with three hits, one hit-by-pitch, three RBI and four runs, and Mackling had two hits, one walk, one hit-by-pitch and four runs.
Savage collected two singles, one sacrifice bunt and four RBI. Nolte reached base three times and had two runs and two RBI, and Nash Callahan scored three times after reaching on a single, double and error. Heath reached base three times on a single, error and hit-by-pitch. He had one sacrifice bunt and drove in one run.
Brayden Powell posted one single and two walks and Gwyer Leach had one RBI single. Ahl contributed two singles, two RBI and two runs and Zach Hillabrand and Brock Hudson each scored once.
Garon Bragg doubled and scored, Luke Meredith had a RBI single and scored and Harrison Klein reached on an error and scored. Tyler Ingman chipped in a single for the Lions.
Savage and Heath limited Pierce to five hits in the game. Savage had one strikeout in 2 1/3 innings on the mound and Heath struck out three Bluejays in 2 2/3 innings.
Both teams played in hot and humid conditions at Cody Park-Legion Field near DeWitt. The heat index was 103 degrees at 2 p.m. and 110 two hours later.
The game stopped for approximately 15 minutes midway through the afternoon when the home plate umpire began showing signs of heat exhaustion. A new umpire suited up and called balls and strikes the rest of the way.
L/WW will face Syracuse in the second round of the tournament. Games were postponed Sunday after the area received more than two inches of rain. The Lions and Rockets will play at 5 p.m. Monday.
Louisville/Weeping Water 1 1 8 10 3 – 23 21 1
Pierce 1 0 2 0 0 – 3 5 5