LIMA – With a young baseball team, inconsistency usually becomes an issue.
Both Lima Central Catholic and Crestview have battled this issue the first month of the season.
However, in the last couple games, longtime Crestview head coach Jim Wharton has seen his youthful ball club start to show signs of becoming more consistent.
In Monday’s 9-1 victory over LCC at Players Field, Crestview pounded 10 base hits and played nearly errorless baseball.
“That’s been an issue for us (pushing runs across) this year,” Wharton said. “We’ve left a ton of runners in scoring position. But tonight, we were able to scratch across enough runs. (Korbin) Hartman had a big night, going 4 for 4. I think Kole Small had a couple RBI; and Riley Wilson in the No. 9 hole, had a couple RBI. Our kids just kept plugging away. I think we’re getting better, each and every game.”
Trever Sheets, the designated hitter for Crestview (6-7), was 2 for 4 at the plate.
Kole Small was stellar on the pitching mound for Crestview. The senior right-hander gave up the one run on just one hit in his five innings of work. Small struck out 11 and walked just two batters. He threw 74 pitches on the night.
“Our pitching has kept us in games,” Wharton said. “We had another great outing by Kole. I believe he struck out 11. Any time you can do that, against a well-coached LCC team, that speaks volumes.”
Crestview scored a run in the top of the first inning, on an RBI single by Hartman.
The big inning for the Knights was the third, when they tallied five runs on four hits off LCC starting pitcher Shawn Thomas.
Thomas was lifted after the third. Thomas was tabbed for six runs on seven hits. He struck out three and walked three, while tossing 87 pitches.
Zac Jacobs moved over from his first base position to take over pitching duties for LCC (6-9) in the top of the fourth. Jacobs worked two innings, before giving way to Michael Briggs in the sixth. Briggs worked one inning, before handing the baseball over to Gus Cira in the final inning.
At the plate, the T-Birds did not record their lone hit, until the fourth, when Thomas drove a single to left field off Small. Thomas, after stealing second base, later scored off a throwing error by Crestview, on a ground ball hit by Conner Gephart.
Crestview added a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth, to put the game out of reach.
Despite its solid offensive production, Crestview left 13 base runners stranded.
“Our approach in the last five games at the plate, has been OK,” Wharton said. “We’re working pitch counts, but we’re just not driving in runs. We were able to (drive in runs), here a little bit tonight, but we still left quite a few on. But those hits will come. If the kids just keep playing for one another and keep working hard, good things will happen.”
For LCC, this spring has been a work in progress.
“We’re inconsistent,” longtime LCC head coach John Schnieders said. “We’re really young. We had three freshmen, three sophomores in the field today. We’re doing a lot of things that young teams do. … We do something one day and don’t do it the next day. Then we get frustrated with ourselves, knowing that we need to be more consistent.
“But all in all, I’ve liked the fight they have shown. They come out and work. But today was not our best showing.”
Since its 10-4 loss to Ottoville on April 13, Crestview has won three games in a row.
“I think the biggest thing at any level of sports, is that you have to trust one another,” Wharton said. “I think after the Ottoville game, the kids have come together. They’re starting to trust each other a little more.”