By Mike Deak
SYRACUSE – It was a sloppy track on what shaped up to be a sloppy evening. For Wawasee, it was a defensive mudslide while Warsaw took the ride in a 14-7 Tiger baseball win at a rainy Warrior Field.
A frustrating night for the Warriors in the field as defensive miscue after miscue proved extremely costly. Eight errors in all allowed 12 of the 14 runs to come homeward in some fashion. An error and wild pitch brought home Warsaw’s first two runs in the second, setting the tone for what was to come.
Another error to start the fourth set up a pair of sacrifice flies from Patrick Zollinger and Aaron Greene, pushing Warsaw’s lead to 5-0. It seemed at that point like all that was left to decide was whether the rain would stop the game or not.
“We had some timely hits and put the bat on the ball, make them have to make decisions,” said Warsaw head coach Andy Manes. “It’s tough with the conditions tonight, we knew there would be a few errors given how wet and cold it was. We just had to put pressure on them. Good things happen when you do the little things like put the ball in play and be aggressive.”
Wawasee would begin to chip away at the lead. After a pair of outs to start the fourth, Ty Brooks and Carr Reinhard reached base, staging Kam Salazar’s two-run single.
The Warriors kept grinding in its half of the fifth, opening with back-to-back singles from Grant Brooks and Parker Young, which chased Greene from the hill. A wild pitch from Kyle Showley brought in Brooks, then after a walk and sacrifice, Ty Brooks brought in two with a single to tie the game at five.
“The comeback is nice, showed a lot of resolve from our kids to battle back and not give up,” said Wawasee head coach Brent Doty. “Our guys are passionate. They get fired up about things and want to win.”
Warsaw’s resolve, however, also kicked in. A two-out rally in the sixth had Gabe Bowers and Zollinger reach base, then come home on a dropped ball in the outfield. Another throwing error brought in a third run, pushing Warsaw’s lead to 8-5.
Showley then showed some moxie on the hill. After Wawasee loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth and the middle of the order coming up, Showley got the next three hitters out on a pair of infield flies and a roller back to the mound.
“For a sophomore to come into that position and get out of a bases loaded jam with no outs, that shows some guts,” Manes said of Showley. “That’s why he’s out there. He’s showed it all winter in preseason work and then into the spring, he is a guy that can get out of jams and be a leader for us on the mound.”
The flood gates then opened in the seventh fittingly as the rain started to come down harder, as Warsaw tacked on six runs – five of those unearned – as the Tigers hung nine unanswered runs on the board after giving up its early lead.
The defensive woes were frustrating for Doty and his club.
“It’s not an excuse, but we got hit with some close contact COVID stuff today and had to move our lineup around because of it,” Doty said. “Two of our starting outfielders weren’t out there, and had some young guys thrown into a tough position. They are figuring some things out, it was just a tough day. When those errors happened, you have to let it go and worry about the next play, but those scenarios happened in key moments for us today.”
Khareus Miller and Jette Woodward had two RBI each and Drew McCleary had a pair of doubles and a run scored. Showley would get the win in relief, giving up five hits and three runs but the beneficiary of the late offensive outburst.
Grant Brooks had four hits and a run scored, Salazar added two hits and three RBI, and Ty Brooks added two hits, two RBI and two runs scored. Salazar pitched into the seventh and allowed six hits and five walks, but 10 of the 11 runs he was responsible for were unearned.
In the JV contest, Warsaw jumped all over Wawasee in a 15-1 final.