By Jake Thompson
BROWNSBURG — A fast start and strong finish were pivotal for Tri-West’s baseball team Saturday morning.
The Bruins travelled just east on I-74 to take on the Bethesda Patriots. Tri-West broke through scoring five runs in the fifth, to put the Patriots away by the 10-run rule, 16-4.
However, in between the first and fifth innings Tri-West looked a little sluggish and along with a few miscues on defense, aided Bethesda’s efforts.
“They relaxed a little bit and we need to work on staying on the gas in those type of situations when we get up and score early and often,” Tri-West coach Ryan Oppy said. “Our bats started coming alive there at the end of the game and woke back up. I was glad to see that.”
Five first inning errors buy the Patriots allowed the Bruins to accumulate an 8-0 lead as Austin Lynn (twice), Matt Pope, Tyler Carter, Dustin Burks, Grant Spratt, Luke Simmons and Jarrod Hough all scored for Tri-West.
“Our first inning was disappointing and it obviously put us down,” Bethesda coach John Mlagan said. “I was happy with our performance after that first inning. There are a lot of things we need to tighten up on.”
Bethesda pulled starting pitcher Austin Forsythe in the first and replaced him with Aaron Hampton, a junior, who finished the game on the mound for the Patriots.
“It’s only his second year playing varsity baseball and he’s looking to be our No. 3 guy heading into sectionals,” Mlagan said.
Bethesda would not commit another error until the fifth inning and after the top of the first, started to come on offensively. The Patriots scored one run in the first, and three in the second.
Eric Poynter led off the bottom of the first with a single and after a walk of Alec Varvel and another single to Brandon Gill, Forsythe brought Poynter home with a single.
In the bottom of the second, Aaron Hampton reached home as did Kyle Bates and Poynter — for the second time — as Bethesda trailed 8-4.
But that would be as close as the Patriots would come to knocking off the 2013 Hendricks County champions.
Tri-West scored three more in the third and then put five runs on the board in the fifth to close out the game.
The Bruins began with Lynn on the mound for two innings and brought in Dallas Wolfe for two innings and closed with Simmons.
Wolfe finished with 4 Ks and Simmons struck out all three Bethesda batters in the bottom of the fifth.
“Lynn and Wolfe threw well and it’s nice to see them coming off the bench and out of the bullpen ready to throw strikes and get ahead in the count,” Oppy said of the pitching effort. “When our pitchers get ahead in the count they do well and when they don’t they tend to struggle a bit. Simmons there in the last half of the inning came in and just threw strikes and we finished them.”
The recipe for the Patriots to improve as they head to sectional play at the end of the month is a simple one according to their coach.
“I talked to the guys that if we cut down our errors, we are in a lot of these games we’ve lost,” Mlagan said. “Our guys are hitting well and pitching well this season and it just all comes down to the fundamentals.”