Baseball: Palte’s strong outing leads Grove past Allen East

COLUMBUS GROVE — In baseball, if you throw strikes good things will happen.

Columbus Grove pitcher Everett Palte threw strikes all day in a 9-2 win over Allen East on Saturday in a Northwest Conference baseball game, a victory that was just the sort of good thing the Bulldogs were looking for after a slow start to the season.

Columbus Grove improved to 4-9 overall and 2-2 in the NWC with the win. Allen East is 6-5 overall and 2-1 in the NWC.

“I think we’re better than our record and I think today we showed that,” Columbus Grove coach Brayden Sautter said.

Allen East jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Levi Clum doubled to score Caleb Lybarger and Jackson Thompson.

But over the next six innings, Palte shut out the Mustangs and allowed only more six hits. He struck out four batters and walked one in seven innings.

“It was a great outing from Everett Palte,” Sautter said. “We’ve had some health issues with our pitching staff. Getting seven innings from him without having to go through any other arms before we have to play three more league games next week was a very big deal for us.

“He just throws strikes. In 16 2/3 innings this year he’s given up three earned runs. Everett does a real nice job of finding the zone and hitting spots and inducing weak contact. And our defense did a great job behind him making plays,” he said.

Palte said he relied on two of his three pitches throughout the game.

“When I’m on the mound I’m just trying to throw strikes and trust my defense. They made plays for me today,” he said.

“Fastball, change-up, they both were working pretty good for me today. I was just mixing them up. My slider wasn’t really doing much for me, so the change-up had to take over.”

Columbus Grove also had a big day offensively and defensively. Six of the first eight batters in its lineup had hits and two others reached base on an error, by walking or being hit by a pitch. And the Bulldogs were charged with only one error.

Jacob Ricker went 2 for 4 and drove in three runs and Kyle Hopkins went 2 for 4, with a pair of doubles for Columbus Grove. Allen East’s Jackson Thompson was 3 for 4.

Columbus Grove scored a run in the bottom of the first inning on Hopkins’ first double and a single by Evan Sautter to cut Allen East’s lead in half.

The Bulldogs scored four times in the bottom of the third and kept the lead the rest of the way.

After Brady Basinger walked, Hopkins doubled and Caleb Davis was hit by a pitch that loaded the bases. Ricker then singled to drive in two runs and a throwing error on Carter Flores’ grounder brought two more runners home for a 5-2 lead.

Trenton Wynkoop’s two-run single in the fifth inning made it 7-2 and Columbus Grove finished the scoring with two more runs in the sixth inning.

“The schedule has not been too kind to us. We’ve struggled with some health issues. We’ve had a tough schedule out of the gates, we’re breaking in a lot of new guys after losing eight starters from last year. A slow start was kind of expected,” Sautter said.

“We figured it would take some time to mesh, to kind of get going. We feel like we’re moving in the right direction. Today really showed the strides we’ve made in these first few weeks,” he said.

Palte also thinks the second half of the Bulldogs’ season can go in a different direction than the first half.

“We’ve lost to some tough teams. We’ve played some tough teams well. I think over the season our record should balance out and reflect us better,” he said.

Columbus Grove 9, Allen East 2

Score by innings:

Allen East 200 000 0 – 2 8 3

Columbus Grove 104 022 x – 9 8 1

WP — Everett Palte (7 innings, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk); LP — Donovan Kennedy (2 2/3 innings, 4 strikeouts, 0 walks)

2B — Kyle Hopkins (CG) 2, Jackson Thompson (AE), Levi Clum (AE).

Records: Columbus Grove 4-9, 2-2 Northwest Conference; Allen East (6-5, 2-1 Northwest Conference)