Western Hills baseball coach Seth Knight hopes Tuesday’s 12-3 district win over host Frankfort Panthers is the beginning of a healthy mental growth spurt.
This win came just 24 hours after Knight’s Wolverines were thumped, 10-0, by district rival Franklin County.
“This was better,’’ Knight said after the win over FHS. “We swung the bats a little better, a little more aggressively. Yesterday we took an old fashioned butt whipping and didn’t come out very aggressive. We played a little tight. It was the first big district game for a lot of these kids.”
Knight started senior Ryan Barrass on the mound against the Panthers, and Barrass was very effective, pitching three scoreless innings.
By the time Ben Pulliam came on to relieve Barrass to start the fourth inning, Western Hills had a 9-0 lead thanks to a six-run outburst in the third inning and three more runs in the top of the fourth.
Pulliam went three innings. Chase Conner pitched the seventh inning for the winners.
The Western Hills’ offense, meanwhile, cranked out nine hits, and the Wolverines also played pretty well defensively.
“Starting Ryan on the mound obviously helped,” Knight said. “He has decent stuff. Defensively it was decent. They didn’t put a whole lot of balls in play. We ran the bases fairly well, put some pressure on their defense, took advantage of some miscues on their part. We kept swinging. We hit the ball hard.”
Chance Hudnall (three innings), Collin Harris (one inning) and Ben Griffith all pitched for the Panthers, and it was a struggle. And those struggles went way beyond Western Hills’ nine hits.
“We gave up nine walks, hit two batters, had four wild pitches and a ton of passed balls,” said Frankfort coach Anthony Russell after his team fell to 6-8. “It just went on and on and on.”
Austin Wiard, Dylan Manley and Barrass all hit a double and a single apiece for Western Hills, while Kyle Fisher, Jordan Taylor and Zack Barker hit one single each.
Fisher also walked twice.
“We swung the bats pretty aggressively, laid down a couple bunts like we’re supposed to, and scored some runners from third on ground balls to the middle like we’re supposed to,” Knight said. “And our situational hitting was better than yesterday, that’s for sure. They executed better today.”
Dennis Martin had two singles for Frankfort. Dre’ Scott hit a double, and Harris, McKinley Stonewall, Cody Hall and Conner Slone hit one single apiece.
But the Panthers were never able to string enough hits together to make Western Hills nervous. And this effort came as quite a surprise to Russell after his team played the socks off the district opponent Woodford County on Monday, losing 5-4 to the Yellowjackets.
“I wish I could get this team to show up on back to back days,” Russell said. “We showed up yesterday at Woodford County and played with them all the way. But we just didn’t bring it back today in the first four innings against Western Hills.”
Both teams remain in district play today, with Western Hills at Woodford County and Frankfort at Franklin County.