BLUFFTON — The momentum gained from a big inning early in the game will usually carry over to the rest of the contest.
Such was the case Tuesday evening when visiting Allen East put a six-spot on the board in the top of the first and rode that big early lead to an 11-6 win over Bluffton in Northwest Conference action.
The first four Mustangs hitters reached base with-out getting a ball out of the infield against Bluffton right hander Brice Rayle. Reid Spencer singled to lead-off the game, Ryan Snyder was hit by a pitch, Brent Wilson reached via a Pirates error, and Bret Ketchum singled in a run.
Pitcher Brayden Newland and third baseman Travis Guthrie followed with singles and Allen East led 6-0 after the first half inning of play.
Newland kept the Pirates at bay before allowing two runs in the third inning and a single run in the fifth but Allen East had added a run in the second and two more in the fourth and held a 9-3 lead.
Bluffton would add three runs in the sixth off of relief pitcher Bret Ketchum who came on to take over for Newland after five innings. Newland improved to 3-0 on the season with the win.
Allen East would add to it lead when it plated two more runs in the seventh inning. Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases and Spencer drove in the final two runs with a single to grow the Mustangs lead to 11-6.
“We just didn’t come ready to play today plus that first inning error really hurt,” Bluffton coach Sam Fruchey said. “We tried to come back but we had dug ourselves too big of a hole.”
Bluffton falls to 5-2 and 2-1 in the NWC with the loss while Allen East improves to 6-4 and 2-2 in NWC play.
“We got out and jumped on them early,” acting Mustangs coach Abe Escamilla said. “We had good pitching with Newland throwing strikes and then Ketchum came in and finished.”
“Our defense was solid the entire game,” Escamilla continued. “They were at the top of the league so this was a big win for us.”
Escamilla was in charge due to Brian Lybarger serving the second game of a two game suspension mandated by the OHSAA after being ejected Saturday in a game with Pandora-Gilboa.
The Mustangs infield defense was outstanding led by third baseman Guthrie who had five assists in the contest.
Spencer totaled two hits in the game while Ketchum connected for three hits to pace the Mustangs attack.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.