Coming into the 2014 high school baseball season, Somerset head coach Phil Grundy felt pretty confident that his team was a bonafide regional contender thanks to eight seniors — all with a ton of experience.
When one of those seniors is on the mound — Briar Jumper ace Charlie Dishman — Somerset can pretty much stack up against anybody.
And, that’s exactly what Grundy and crew did on Monday afternoon.
Facing arch-rival Southwestern on the Warriors home turf, Somerset took advantage of three costly Warrior errors early, banged out 10 hits along the way scoring seven runs, which was more than enough for the Jumpers ace in this affair.
Somerset scored one run in the first inning and tacked on three more in the second, sending Southwestern down to its third loss of the year with an impressive 7-1 triumph, over the Warriors.
“Charlie just pitched great again today for us,” stated a very happy coach Grundy after his team moved to 6-3 on the season with the win.
“It’s early still and people are going to make mistakes, and thankfully for us today, we had base runners on and were able to capitalize on a couple of their mistakes,” added Grundy. “Getting a 1-0 lead on Trevor (Howard) was big as well.”
Indeed, on paper this was a matchup of two aces, and Howard certainly deserved a better fate from the get-go.
Somerset’s Jacob Pelston reached Howard for a one-out single in the top of the first inning, and was standing at third base one out later.
With two outs in a scoreless affair, Bryson Jones hit a towering popup on the infield, and the ball was dropped in the middle of three Southwestern players for an error, giving the Jumpers a quick, 1-0 advantage.
In the top of the second, Somerset padded its cushion to 4-0, when it looked as if it would be a routine frame for Howard.
The Warrior sophomore retired the first two men he faced, but then he walked Will Hislope — the number nine hitter — and followed that up by hitting Addison Thompson.
With two out and runners at first and second, Pelson delivered an RBI single, a wild pitch scored another run, and Dishman helped his own cause with a bloop single that scored a fourth run, giving Somerset a 4-0 lead with its ace on the hill.
“The first inning sets the tone, and that was just inexcusable in the first inning — that play (infield popup) has to be made 100 percent of the time,” lamented Southwestern head coach Alex Eaton, after his club fell to 7-3 on the year.
“We’ve lived and died defensively for the last two years,” Eaton pointed out. “Defensively, we’re a talented team, but obviously, we didn’t do that tonight.”
Already leading the Warriors by that 4-0 margin, Somerset all but put this one away by knocking Howard out of the contest by tacking on three more runs in the top half of the fourth inning.
And, once again it was Dishman helping himself in a big, big way.
The Somerset senior blasted a two-run monster shot to deep left center field, giving the Jumpers a very comfortable, 7-0 cushion to work with at that juncture.
The Jumpers had already scored a run in the frame before Dishman’s blast, thanks to another wild pitch from Howard.
Leading Southwestern by a 7-0 margin and with Howard off the mound, the Warriors were in big-time trouble.
“Trevor (Howard) wasn’t as sharp today as he usually is — he left a lot of balls in the middle of the plate and you’ve got to give Somerset a lot of credit,” stated Eaton.
“They didn’t miss many balls that were in the middle of the plate — they squared it up pretty good,” remarked the Warrior skipper. “Pitching is all location, and we’ve got to get Trevor to the point where he becomes a pitcher and not just a thrower, and he’s going to get there. He’s a 16-year old sophomore, and it hasn’t all came together just yet, but it’s going to come together. He has all the abilitly in the world, but we’ve got to get him mentally to the point that when he steps on the mound that he’s a pitcher, and he doesn’t have the attitude that he’s just going to throw it by everybody.”
Down 7-0 to the Jumpers, Southwestern’s one major threat in the game came in the home half of the sixth frame, when the Warriors loaded the bases with nobody out.
Hunter Cromer led things off with a walk, while his teammates Jacob Burchett and Trevor Stacey followed that free pass with back to back singles.
With the bases juiced and no one out, Dishman bared down and got out of the jam.
After walking Howard to force in a run with nobody out, Dishman retired the next three hitters he faced — two on strikeouts and one on a groundout — holding the lead at 7-1 in favor of Somerset.
“I’m proud of the way our guys battled today, but I thought late in the game we wasted a few at bats,” remarked Grundy.
“That was the one negative,” continued the Somerset coach. “In hitter’s counts today, we didn’t make very good passes on the ball. That’s something that we’re focusing on, and that’s making pitchers work and not wasting at bats. But, we did play well today. We were clean in the field with no errors, so overall I’m very proud, because this was a nice win over a very good baseball team.”
Both Somerset and Southwestern will be back in action tomorrow afternoon.
The Jumpers will host Pulaski County at 6 p.m. in an early-season 47th District clash, while coach Eaton and Warriors will return home tomorrow afternoon at 5:30 p.m. to face Metcalfe County.
SHS — 1 3 0 3 0 0 0 — 7 10 0
SW — 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 — 1 3 3
HOMERUNS — (SHS) Dishman.
RBI — (SHS) Dishman 3, Pelston.
WP — Dishman
LP — Howard