With temperatures dropping and the wind picking up, baseball fans might have been looking for a mercy rule ending to Wednesday’s game at Western Hills.
The Wolverines weren’t.
Down 11-4 after three innings, WHHS rallied with three runs in the fourth and had the bases loaded with one out in the seventh before losing to Ballard 11-7.
“Most teams, they give up eight runs and they come in and they have that defeated look on their face, ‘Oh, what are we going to do now?’” WHHS coach Eric Grubb said. “They just looked at it as, ‘Oh, they scored eight, now we have to come back and do the same thing.’
“Their mentality never changed, and that’s one thing this team will be able to deal with all year long. I think they’ll be able to deal with adversity.”
WHHS (2-1) struck first Wednesday, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Tyler Anglin and Seth Roush led off with walks, and Kyle Stevens followed with a base hit to drive in a run.
The other two runs scored on a groundout by Kyle Fisher and a sacrifice fly by Zack Barker.
Leading 3-0, the Wolverines watched Ballard (3-0) put up eight runs on four hits and two errors in the top of the second inning.
The big hit of the inning was a grand slam home run by Nick Nonos.
WHHS got a run back in the bottom of the second inning with singles by Landon Arflack, Anglin and Roush, but the Bruins scored three runs in the third inning on three hits, including a two-run double by Jay Poullard.
The score stayed 11-4 until the fourth inning when the Wolverines plated three runs. Arflack was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. He stole second, went to third when Thomas Bennett grounded out to second and scored on a balk.
Roush drew a walk and scored on a triple by Kyle Stevens, and Stevens came home on a base hit by Barker.
Western Hills went down in order the next two innings, but in the bottom of the seventh had the bases loaded with one out on a walk to Fisher and singles from Luke Wheatley and Jesse Howard.
A strikeout and fly ball ended the game.
WHHS finished the game with seven hits — singles by Anglin, Roush, Barker, Wheatley, Howard and Arflack, and a single and triple from Stevens.
“We talk about going out there every single inning and trying to put runs on the board,” Grubb said. “Put some kind of number on the board. Somehow, some way put a run across, and if do that you’ll continue to win ballgames.”
Ballard had 11 hits, led by Poullard with two singles and a double.
The Bruins’ starting pitcher, Brandon Wilson, pitched two-thirds of an inning. Kyle Reisenberg pitched 3 1/3 innings, and Blake Frost was on the mound for the last three innings.
Stevens was WHHS’ starting pitcher and went two innings, followed by Parker Jackson and Kyle Fisher, who both pitched two innings. Logan Etherington closed out the game, pitching the seventh inning.
“Stevens, he’s young as far as experience on the mound,” Grubb said. “He’s never really had to deal with any adversity on the mound. The little bit he has pitched he’s been very successful.
“I went out and talked to him, after he gave up the grand slam, and that’s what I said to him. It’s easy to pitch when you go out there and they’re hitting balls right at people, you’re getting swings and misses. It’s easy to pitch.
“But you really find out what kind of pitcher a person is after they’ve given up a couple of runs, or your defense has made a couple of errors behind you. How do you bounce back? That’s what I was talking to him about out there.
“He kept his composure; he continued to compete. He did everything we asked him to do, and that’s what I expect from all of our players, to go with that same mentality.”
Western Hills’ next game is at home Friday against Anderson County.