THS baseball swept by Tigers in home opener
Tonganoxie High baseball vs. Jeff West
The Chieftain baseball team opened the home portion of its 2012 season Tuesday with a doubleheader against Jeff West.
The Chieftain baseball team opened the home portion of its 2012 schedule on a sour note Tuesday, dropping both ends of a doubleheader against Jeff West. The Tigers defeated the Chieftains by scores of 13-4 and 11-4, respectively.
Senior Austin Harkrader took to the mound in the opener and quickly fell behind in the first inning. Wyatt Miller and Josh Becker drove in one run apiece to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. THS (1-5) answered with two of its own in the bottom half of the frame — one RBI each from seniors Shane Levy and Tyler Freeman — but JWHS regained the lead for good with two more runs in the second.
Harkrader ran into more trouble in the fourth when he walked Becker and Dalton Dean. THS coach Mitch Loomis replaced Harkrader with sophomore Travis Woods after Becker scored and Dean moved to third on two straight passed balls.
The Tigers took advantage of passed balls all night, as the Chieftain catchers struggled to keep the ball from reaching the backstop.
"We've been real good at the catching position the last five or six years, but this is the first year we've had somebody new in there," Loomis said. "We're feeling it out right now. The varsity game is a different speed for these guys. They're adjusting right now."
Loomis' squad got the run back when Levy scored in the bottom of the fourth, but Jeff West sealed the win with a six-run fifth inning. Freshman Connor Wentz-Hall relieved Woods with one out in the frame.
Each team scored once in the sixth and the Tigers added another in the seventh for the final margin.
Freeman started the second game, and the Tigers wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Logan Herring opened the game with a single and Miller drove him home with a double, but Freeman settled down and got out of the inning with minimal damage.
The early lead was short-lived, though, as Levy delivered with a two-run double in the bottom of the first. He scored on a balk to make it 3-1 later in the inning.
Levy, the team's leading hitter through six games, went a combined 4-for-7 in the series, including three doubles and five RBI.
"He's been instrumental for us," Loomis said of Levy. "He was the reason we won (at Basehor) and he was the reason we were in it tonight. He's one of the best young hitters I've ever seen. He comes up big for us when we need him."
Jeff West tied the game with two runs in the third. The Chieftains briefly regained the lead when Levy drove home another run in the fourth, but Jeff West's Bret Ricklefs answered with an RBI of his own in the top of the fifth.
Things started to come unraveled down the stretch, as Freeman was touched for four runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh. The Chieftains failed to answer, as they were retired in order in both innings.
With a doubleheader against Mill Valley just two days away, Loomis admitted he kept Freeman on the mound longer than he would have liked.
"We put Tyler in a rough spot tonight," he said. "We've got to go Thursday for a doubleheader and our pitching staff is thin the way it is, so we left him out there too long. He battles for us and I know he's going to give us everything he's got."
THS will try to get back in the win column when it opens play against the Jaguars at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
JWHS 220 161 1 — 13
THS 200 101 0 — 4
Leading hitters: Shane Levy 2-3, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Tyler Freeman 2-3, RBI.
JWHS 102 014 3 — 11
THS 300 100 0 — 4
Leading hitters: Shane Levy 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Ben Williams 2-3, BB.