WARSAW — In a week that will feature six games for the Warsaw baseball team, any break is a welcomed one. Marselo Rodriguez and Sterling Hay were two huge catalysts as the Tigers needed just five innings to best Wawasee 14-2 Monday evening.
“Hay and Rodriguez are really fun to watch,” Warsaw skipper Mike Hepler said of his two juniors. “The can really have some good games this year. They’re going to be a force to be reckoned with for sure.”
Hay can be credited with a hustle award as he kept things going, or rather started things, in the bottom of the first. With two outs already on the board, Hay hit a slow roller to second base, the Warsaw senior hustled and beat out the throw to give the Tigers their first base runner of the game. Hay then found his way to the plate off an RBI double from Rodriguez, who would be brought home by Luke Baker.
Another double, this time from Blake Foreman, scored Baker and Braxton Tennant to give the Tigers a 4-0 advantage going into the second inning.
Both teams went scoreless in the second and Wawasee did its only damage in the top of the third. The Warriors scored two runs on RBIs from Jacob Garcia and Gavin Barker but would squander a great opportunity by stranding runners after an inning-ending, unassisted double play from Baker at second base.
“We just didn’t come ready to play, that’s the bottom line,” Wawasee coach Brent Doty stated. “We got off the bus not ready to play, taking it for granted. It’s a conference game and we showed up and laid an egg. That’s what it comes down to.”
Wawasee had two errors and just four hits while the Tigers had 15 hits and one error.
Rodriguez knocked in Hay and also scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the third. Rodriguez picked up two more RBIs in the fourth by bringing home Bryce Sensibaugh and, you guessed it, Hay. The Orange and Black led 10-2 after four.
An RBI from Henry Howard put Warsaw up 11-2 in the fifth and Rodriguez capped his career day with a walk-off, three-run homer, putting the 10-run rule into effect for the home team. Rodriguez was 4-4 on the day, scoring three runs and driving in seven. Hay was 3-3 with three runs scored. Baker and Collin Marshall also had a pair of hits each for Warsaw.
Jordan Jones got the win on the bump for the Tigers after pitching three innings in relief for Isaac Lenon. Jones gave up no runs and struck out one batter.
Chase Rookstool led Wawasee offensively by going 2-3 at the plate with a double. Lucas Garza and Gavin Bontrager split time on the mound for the Warriors recording a combined two strikeouts.
The win gives Warsaw (2-2, 1-0) some momentum heading into both the rest of this week, which features five more games, and the conference slate, but Hepler and the Tigers are just focusing on keeping things simple.
“We had a meeting Saturday morning about think smaller,” Hepler offered. “Don’t think about the big picture, or the whole game. Focus on one pitch at a time or one batter at a time, one inning at a time, then let it progress from there. Stay in the moment. You could see it out there today and I think that was a huge step in the right direction.”
Wawasee (3-4-1, 0-1), who entered with a three-game winning streak over its county rival, will also need to stay focused on the little things after some impatient at-bats and mental mistakes in the field made the loss even harder to swallow for the Warriors.
“If we want to fix that, we have to go hard at practice before Wednesday’s game,” Doty offered. “That’s the only way to get past this. We need to get after it and get ready for Memorial and hopefully have a better outcome.”
Wawasee plays at Memorial Wednesday while Warsaw travels to South Bend Clay Tuesday night.
Warsaw won the JV contest 9-6.