SYRACUSE — There’s an old adage in sports that the team that makes the fewest mistakes usually wins.
Visiting Columbia City only recorded two errors but made a number of other mistakes in gusty conditions, and host Wawasee capitalized with a 10-2 win in the Warriors’ home-opener Thursday night.
“That’s the difference in the game,” said Wawasee coach Brent Doty. “We’re fortunate enough to play and to practice in conditions like this pretty consistently. We’re used to the wind and playing with it. Now, not 25 mile-an-hour, but it does help. And that’s what we’re going to pride ourselves on through the year — playing solid defense, limiting walks and getting timely hits — and if we do that, we’re going to be successful.”
In blustery, chilly weather in Syracuse, the Warriors had to manufacture some offense early, using a walk and a Parker Young double in the first and two base hits and a sacrifice fly in the fourth to get their first two runs, but City answered back both times with a run of their own to knot it at 2-all.
Back-to-back, two-out base hits by Young and Levi Brown were followed by a Grant Brooks fly to shallow right that got hung up in the wind and turned into a campfire situation between City second baseman Cameron Harris and right fielder Treyton Lomont, scoring Wawasee courtesy runner Ethan Garza. A throwing error from third on a Carter Woody grounder plated Levi Brown to give the Warriors a 4-2 advantage.
Not satisfied with that two-run lead, the home team scratched out six more runs during a big sixth inning, breaking it open with a trio of triples — including a two-run double from Young — and five total hits to balloon the lead out to its final margin.
“We talked about it right before that sixth inning — being up two is good and to have that lead, but we want to build on it when we have the opportunity,” recalled Doty. “I said ‘Let’s keep building on it and give us a little more cushion. Carter Woody pitched such a good game, we need to add to it so we’re not stressing out if they get a runner on.’ They started to have really good approaches at the plate, driving the ball through the wind, not getting it up in it. So it was a really good approaches, top to bottom in that sixth.”
Woody earned the pitching win lasting six innings, striking out nine and walking none while giving up four hits for two runs, one earned. Jacob Krugman closed out the game, striking out two in the seventh.
“Just good command overall today. Spotting his fastball, good command on his curveball, throwing it for strikes when we needed it, not throwing it for strikes when we needed it,” said Doty of Woody. “He probably had a decent amount of strikeouts, too. He was kind of on a pitch count, just because we have so many games piling up, so we wanted to keep him right around 80, and we did. I told him that, ‘You have to be effective in innings.’ I think he had a seven-pitch inning and maybe and eight- or nine-pitch inning, so very, very effective.”
Young went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs batting in the cleanup spot in the Wawasee order, and Kam Salazar finished 3-for-4 on-base with two runs scored batting in the third spot.
“Those guys are both sophomores so they’re going to be around for awhile. They’re good hitters. They work extremely hard, Kameron and Parker both do, at just getting better every day. They have very good self-discipline at the plate. They only swing at good pitches they know they’re going to drive, and they did a phenomenal job,” said Doty.
“And then it’s nice to have the option to run for Parker. You put (Ethan) Garza or Austin Baker or guys like that that have some speed out there, they’re going to score runs for him when he does get on base. So it’s great for them, but it’s a full team effort because guys have got to get on in front of them to score those runs.”