MARIA STEIN – Two first-inning runs and superior Austin Baumgardner pitching proved too much for the Marion Local Flyers as the Green Wave varsity baseball team opened the 2014 season Monday with a 5-1 road win.
“I was impressed with Austin Baumgardner,” Greenville varsity coach Eric Blumenstock said. “(He) threw a really good game today.”
“Greenville played a good game,” Marion Local first-year varsity coach Dustin Woods said. “When you put the little things together, get the pitch, move runners, move up on the bases on passed balls … that’s how you win that game 5-1.”
Quinton Wood opened with a single to right-center followed with Cole Ward knocking a single to left-center, putting Wave runners on first and second.
Batting third in the lineup, Colton Nealeigh delivered, sending a double to deep center to score Wood and Ward for a 2-0 Green Wave lead.
A Nealeigh sacrifice in the top of the second inning sent a tagging Ethan Clark home from third, giving the Wave a 3-1 lead.
The Flyers took advantage of a Green Wave error, plating an unearned run in the bottom of the second and cutting Greenville’s lead to 3-1.
The Wave’s senior catcher, Bailey Haworth, slammed the door on a Marion Local threat, throwing to Wave third baseman Ward covering with a tag of a Flyers’ attempted steal of third for the final out of the inning.
“We took care of the little thing,” Blumenstock said. “We played a clean game tonight. Very few mistakes, and that’s usually what makes the difference.”
A Flyers fifth inning opening single to center would prove to do no damage with a Wood head-first diving catch in center field for out No. 1, Baumgardner throwing to Kyle Bruner covering first on a successful pickoff play for out No. 2 followed with Baumgardner throwing a strikeout to close out the inning.
Greenville added a run in the top of the sixth inning with Clark driving in freshman right fielder Logan Eldridge for a 4-1 advantage.
Marion local put runners on first and third with one out in its half of the sixth, but once again the threat was thwarted with a Baumgardner successful pickoff at first for out No. 2 followed with a Wood catch in center for the third out.
“That was huge (two pickoffs at first base),” Blumenstock said. “One inning they were starting to get a little momentum there. Baumgardner has a great move over to first. It was nice to see him utilize it.”
Back-to-back doubles off the bats of Nealeigh and Ryan Eldridge gave the Wave a 5-1 lead with the Flyers coming to the plate for their last at bat of the contest.
Marion Local went quietly with a popup to first, a groundout to second and Baumgardner setting the last batter down looking at a called third strike.
“Low pitch count … that was important,” Blumenstock said. “He (Baumgardner) got through the whole thing. Didn’t have too many stressful innings out there. One fluke error, and they got a hit after that. Austin was hitting his spots, keeping it low, keeping them off balance. The contact they did make didn’t go very far.”
“We have seven games in six days this week,” Blumenstock added. “I need these guys to be workhorses out there.”