SYRACUSE – The focus for the Warsaw baseball team Wednesday according to coach Mike Hepler was on getting good, aggressive at-bats.
The Tigers used a well-balanced offensive attack to snap a scoreless drought in posting a 5-1 win at Wawasee in Northern Lakes Conference action.
Warsaw, which had not scored in its last three games, got production up and down its lineup to best the Warriors for the second time this season. Warsaw (6-8, 3-4) defeated Wawasee 8-1 on April 16.
Seven different Tigers had hits, led by two each from Kyle Morris and Austin Franzen. Warsaw also had productive outs with a pair of sacrifice flies in the victory and got key bunts from Josh Frantz and Jason Ferguson to ignite run-scoring innings.
“We had a good effort by our hitters,” said Hepler, whose team had been outscored 18-0 in losing to Elkhart Memorial, Concord and Elkhart Central. “We wanted to concentrate on one thing, good aggressive at-bats and they did. That was lacking in our losing streak (five in a row). We just need to keep showing signs of improvement.
“This should be a good confidence booster today. Our last run came last Wednesday (in a 7-3 loss to Northridge). It was a week ago, but felt like two months. I knew we would score some time, but it felt like we could breath again tonight when we got that first run.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the third on a sacrifice fly by leadoff hitter Shay Hepler. Warsaw plated three more runs in the fourth, getting RBI singles by Austin Moore and Josh Frantz and a sacrifice fly by Garrett Gruenewald. The Tigers added a run in the seventh on an RBI double by cleanup hitter Morris. Morris and Franzen each had a double for the winners.
Warsaw got a strong pitching performance from Gruenewald. The senior right-hander went five innings, allowing just four hits.
“I was pleased with Garrett. He was aggressive, went after them and threw strikes,” commented Hepler.
Wawasee (4-12, 1-7) made it interesting in their final at-bat. A pair of walks, a hit batter and a Tiger error made it 5-1 with the bases loaded and two outs. Senior Brock Anson came on as the third Tiger pitcher and got a strikeout on three pitches to end the game.
“I’m glad how it worked out for Brock at the end,” Hepler stated. “I told him to be aggressive and he went right at them.”
Derrick Sorensen had two hits to pace Wawasee. He also took the loss on the hill, allowing four runs in five innings of work.
“Derrick pitched very well in his second start of the year tonight,” said Wawasee coach John Blunk. “We tried to start rallies with two outs and you can’t do that. We need to swing the bats like we mean it when we get our pitch and we didn’t do that.
“Our younger kids are improving every time out and we just need to keep improving. I thought both freshmen (reliever Drew Anderson and shortstop Gage Reinhard) had good games tonight for us. We just need to have a good practice Thursday and be ready to compete with Elkhart Memorial Friday.”
Warsaw won the JV contest 5-0. Tyler LaFollette and Justin Oberlin combined to pitch a three-hitter for the Tigers.
Warsaw hosts Goshen and Wawasee hosts Elkhart Memorial in league play Friday.