Prep baseball: Hoover offense stays hot in 12-1 win over Catholic
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A time comes when it stops appearing that a team makes scoring runs look easy and one concedes that it is easy.
Suffice to stay that's the case for the Herbert Hoover High School baseball team, which trailed for only the second time this season before rolling over on Charleston Catholic in a 12-1 five-inning victory Wednesday at Falling Rock.
The only other team to lead Hoover was Class AAA Winfield in the season opener, when the Generals jumped out to a 5-0 lead before falling 13-9.
That makes 18 consecutive victories dating to last season for the Huskies and what is believed to be a school-record 15-0 start to this season.
The first meeting of the season between the 2012 Class AA State Tournament runners-up Huskies and the Class A semifinalist Irish wound up being Hoover's 11th victory this year by 10 runs or more.
Catholic (12-6) simply was overmatched against the Huskies' torrid batters that produced 12 hits, four stolen bases and two innings in which they batted through the lineup.
"We left everything up," said Charleston Catholic Coach Bill Mehle, whose starting pitcher Andy Hoyer threw two innings and saw his earned run average go from 3.55 to 5.17. "We couldn't keep the ball down at the knees and these guys are too good of hitters. If you can't locate the fastball down, they're going to hit it."
Hit it they did, and ran the bases, and put more pressure on Catholic's defense than it would ever expect, forcing the Irish into four errors.
After a Nelson McKown run-scoring single gave Catholic a short-lived lead and starting pitcher Corey Bird his first earned run of the season in eight innings, the Huskies went to work.
Four singles, a triple, a walk, a sacrifice fly, error and two stolen bases by Bird and, just like that, Hoover held a 5-1 lead - marking the 15th time the Huskies have scored five or more runs in an inning in 82 offensive innings.
The 16th time came in a seven-run third inning when Hoover capitalized on freshman pitcher Dominic Marsico, who hadn't given up a run in five innings previously. A popup to start the inning was followed by a walk, a single, a walk and a run-scoring double by No. 9 hitter Shaun Dotson.
Bird reached base on an error and Scooter Farmer followed by reaching on an error. A fielder's choice, single and two-run double by Austin Thomas in his second at-bat of the inning ballooned the lead to 12-1.
Catholic needed two runs in the top of the fifth to extend the game, but Bird - who had not given up an earned run before Wednesday - set down the visitors in order with two groundouts and his ninth strikeout of the game.
The Huskies have won by the 10-run mercy rule a total of nine times and six were in five innings.
His team's hitting, not his 24 strikeouts and two walks in 12 innings this season, is what Bird wanted to talk about.
"The middle of the lineup is just bombs," said Bird, "and there's nobody in the lineup you can pitch around. You can't throw fastballs past our nine hitter."
Dotson had an RBI double. The No. 8 hitter, Sean Craze, had a two-run triple in the second inning.
Ryan Shamblin, the No. 3 hitter, singled in a run and added an RBI on a fielder's choice. Cleanup hitter Cody Bowen was 2-for-3 and Thomas, the No. 5 hitter, had a single and a two-run double.
Mehle chalked this game up to a learning experience in which his team didn't handle well the deficit.
"We got down early and I think that led to some defensive miscues," said Mehle, whose team faces Hoover in the return matchup at Triana Field Wednesday. "We just did not look sharp. That's what we talked about. That's the biggest learning experience for us, how to keep battling when you get down early."
As for Hoover, it didn't just seem like another day at the office.
It was just another day at the office.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at email@example.com or 304-348-4837.