KALIDA — Kalida came into its regular season and Putnam County League opener against Pandora-Gilboa without any of its seniors but the Wildcats held off the Rockets to produce an 8-6 victory on a chilly Tuesday night.
“We had no seniors because of the senior class trip and I was real happy with way the guys competed today,” Kalida head coach Chad Ehrnsberger said. “This is one we had to have. With the seniors gone, it is not an excuse but we are losing a lot of returning guys and leadership but to see the young guys come out, being the first game of the year and a PCL game and a new field is a lot of pressure and our guys performed and I was really proud of that.”
Pandora-Gilboa head coach Abram Escamilla, who took over the program this year, pointed to his team’s inexperience and despite the loss learned a lot about his young team.
“We have a lot of sophomores playing and one senior that has experience, Eli (Huffman), and so my other seniors stepped up and they did a good job once those young kids got the jitters out of them,” Escamilla said. ‘They showed they that they could play and I thought they did a good job.”
Kalida took advantage of the Rockets’ miscues and mistakes early to open up a 6-0 lead after the first three frames but P-G rallied for four runs in the top of the fourth make the score 6-4.
The Wildcats got two runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth to open up a four-run lead, 8-4. The Rockets came back with two more but never caught Kalida.
Kalida got a solid outing from starter Drew Buss who pitched three scoreless frames to open the game but ran into trouble in the fourth where he gave up four scores.Buss scattered five hits over four innings while striking out seven and walking four. Carson Klausing tossed the final three frames and gave up no hits while striking out four.
“Drew was really strong for three innings and then I don’t know if he got tired there at the end but they got to him in the third time through the order but give them credit too they put some really good swings on the ball,” Ehrnsberger said. “That is what I said to Abe, ‘you have some guys that can swing.’ Sometimes you just run into that because I thought Carson Klausing came in the last three innings and they had some really good swings of him too.”
Pandora-Gilboa starter Nate Maag had trouble throughout the game locating his curveball at the onset and he was not helped in the field as the Rockets made several big errors that the Wildcats took advantage of to gain the early advantage. Maag lasted four and one-third innings and surrendered seven hits while walking five and striking out one. He also had five wild pitches.
Offensively for Kalida, lead-off man Brayden “Bubba” Smith had a big night at the plate, going 3 for 3, a base on balls, and scoring four times with two stolen bases. Teammate Jacob Siebeneck was 3 for 3, hit by a pitch, and drove in two big runs in the second inning. Justin Smith was 2 for 2 with a walk, two runs scored and two stolen bases.
Kalida had eight stolen bases.
For P-G, Jake Fischer was 2 for 2, was hit by a pitch with two runs scored and two RBI.
“I told them they could hit and they put runs on the board,” Escamilla said. “We didn’t get the win but I was happy the way they played. They battled. They came back. I told them, ‘I learned a lot about you guys.’ I knew the kids but I really didn’t know them and losing my one and two (starters) for the season and Jake Maag showed me he is willing to be that one that I need. He is a bulldog and a fighter and doesn’t give up.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.