It’s becoming more and more evident that pitching and defense are the foundation of the McPherson High baseball team.
The Bullpups once again excelled in both phases here Thursday as they swept a Rose Hill team that has most of its key regulars back from last year’s Class 4A Division I third-place state finisher.
Since losing a pair of games to open the season, the Bullpups have reeled off four wins in a row, which has resulted in a gaining of confidence.
The first game ended in dramatic fashion, as Cody Starkel broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the ninth inning by ripping a single to left that scored Jacob Loecker for the 1-0 victory. Loecker had hit a two-out single, which was followed by another single by Jack Reifschneider, setting the stage for Starkel, who had not had a hit in his first four appearances, which is a rarity for him.
The second game was more of the same as with the wind blowing in, runs were at a premium. But Marcus McDaniel’s two-run single in the third inning and Casen Hoover’s two-run single in the fifth was more than plenty in a 4-1 win.
McDaniel pulled off a rarity, as he was the winner in the first game in relief, then also won the second game after working the final four innings.
Caleb Schmidt threw seven scoreless innings to start the first game and has put up zeroes in 12 of his 13 innings. He pitched five scoreless against Augusta before giving up three runs.
“Since Day One of practice we’ve seen Caleb and he’s been consistent,” MHS coach Heath Gerstner said. “The way he goes about his process is unbelievable. He just works extremely, extremely hard, probably too hard sometimes. My hats off to (MHS assistant) coach (Aaron) Alvord. That guy is one of the best pitching coaches around. He works with our guys, is patient with our guys. Called both games... I thought (Rose Hill) hitters in both games were completely off balance.”
Reifschneider, who allowed one run in six innings on Monday, gave the Bullpups three scoreless innings to start Game 2 before yielding to McDaniel. He allowed one run over the final four, that in his first inning as he settled down over the final three.
Again, MHS didn’t hit much, but got the hits when it needed it — including three by Starkel in the nightcap. And the defense was sensational.
“Our pitchers were great, but if our defense isn’t good, it’s all for naught,” Gerstner said. “And our defense has been rock solid.”
The Bullpups go on the road Monday to play Circle.
The JV baseball team evened its record at 3-3 with a sweep.
MHS used a pair of six-run innings to win the first game, 12-0. Raine Reitsma twirled a two-hitter and received a two-hit, four-RBI game from Koby Kerr and Sam Brossard crushed a pair of doubles.
The second game was a 5-2 win as Caleb Giddings was the winner, with Zane Myers finishing up. Wyatt Seidl was credited with two RBIs.
MHS (1) — Starkel 5-0-1-1, Myers 4-0-0-0, McDaniel 4-0-1-0, Schmidt 3-0-2-0, Hoover 4-0-1-0, Saverino 3-0-0-0, McCulley 4-0-1-0, Arriola 3-0-1-0, Loecker 1-1-1-0, Reifschenider 3-0-1-0.
MHS (4) — Starkel 4-1-3-0, Myers 2-1-0-0, McDaniel 3-0-1-2, Schmidt 3-1-1-0, Hoover 3-0-1-2, Saverino 3-0-1-0, McCulley 2-0-1-0, Arriola 1-0-0-0, Loecker 2-0-1-0, Reifschneider 2-1-0-0, Sitts 0-0-0-0.