HHS baseball splits season opener with Falls City
Holton had two very different games in a home doubleheader against Fall City (Neb.) to start the baseball season on Saturday, though the Wildcats started things off on the right foot.
Starting pitcher Justin Rieschick, who HHS coach Joe Purcell said was in solid early season form, cruised through the first inning and retired the side in order while the offense followed up by giving him 1-0 lead to work with in the bottom half of the inning.
Rieschick reached on an error to led things off and after advancing to third on a groundout by Brady Mulroy, he came in to score on an RBI single from Justin Pool.
A lead-off double in the top of the second inning was one of only two hits the Wildcat pitcher would give up in the game, but Falls City made it work and turned that into the game-tying run following a stolen base and a dropped third strike.
Holton quickly got its advantage back in the third inning, looking like a well-oiled machine on offense as Rieschick singled, Mulroy reached on an error and Pool delivered another RBI single to help the home team retake the lead.
Mulroy then scored on a wild pitch, while Derek Haverkamp hit into a fielder’s choice that allowed Pool to score and Holton to take a 4-1 lead into the fourth inning.
Both pitchers retired the side in order in the fourth inning, but the Wildcats went right back to work in the fifth as Pool drew a walk with one out before Haverkamp singled and Jordan Booth drew another walk to load up the bases.
Luis Butto then came through with a two-RBI double and Levi Martin followed with an RBI single. Butto then scored after Falls City tried to catch Martin stealing second and that put the Wildcats ahead 8-1 with just two innings to go.
“I thought we hit the ball well; not a lot of pop outs, not a lot of one-man outs. For the first game, I’m not too disappointed. I think we’re maybe a little ahead of where I thought we might be hitting-wise,” Purcell said.
An error to start the top of the sixth led to an RBI single for Falls City, but amounted to no more than the one run and Rieschick then struck out the side in the seventh to cap off a complete game and lock up an 8-2 victory for HHS.
P: HHS- Rieschick and Pool; FC- McCann, Lotter and Witt.
2B: HHS- Butto; FC- McCann.
SB: HHS- Rieschick and Martin; FC- McCann.
Game two started with the Tigers getting off to an early lead in the first inning, as they were the ones to use small ball to their advantage this time and turned a lead-off walk into a 1-0 lead thanks to a sacrifice groundout and a sacrifice fly.
After another lead-off walk and sacrifice situation, a wild pitch brought in another run in the second inning to put Falls City ahead 2-0, but Holton had an answer.
Despite two quick outs, a single from Jordan Booth got the Wildcats going in the bottom of the second. Booth then had two stolen bases sandwiched between a walk drawn by Martin and he then proceeded to score on a wild pitch to make it a 2-1 ball game.
Holton looked to take its first lead in the third inning after Aaron Bain was hit by a pitch to start things off while Rieschick followed with a double deep to left field. Bain attempted to score on the play, but was thrown out at home.
Mulroy then hit a would-be sacrifice fly to right field as Rieschick attempted to score on the play, but it turned into an inning-ending double play as he was recorded out in a second-consecutive play at the plate.
Those were gambles Purcell said he was willing to take after some early reads on the Tiger outfielders and he tipped his hat to them for making some big plays.
Instead of going up 3-2, the Wildcats still trailed 2-1 and Falls City made it a 3-1 lead after getting a run in on another dropped third strike in the top of the fourth inning.
Wildcat pitcher Brady Forrester continued to minimize the damage and ended the inning with back-to-back strikeouts. The offense just couldn’t repeat what it did in game one as the team continued to play catch-up.
The dam seemed to break for good in the sixth inning, though, as the Tigers collected three hits and took advantage of some defensive miscues to seemingly stretch their lead out of reach, making it a 7-1 ball game.
“Both Brady and Sam (King) labored a little bit. They went to long counts and when you do that, guys lose their focus a little bit. It was just a slow game and that’s something we’re going to have to work on is keeping our focus,” Purcell said.
Falls City added an insurance run on an error in the seventh, which proved necessary as the Wildcat offense woke up in the seventh inning.
Booth led off with a single and Martin followed with a double before Booth scored on a passed ball. After the second out of the inning, Rieschick reached on an error that scored Martin to make it an 8-3 game, but the Tigers got the third out right after that to end the threat and secure their win.
Purcell noted Falls City was similar to Holton (1-1) in many ways and showed the team that it needs to play solid, fundamental baseball in order to win. The Wildcats will look to do more of that in their next outing, a road doubleheader at Silver Lake today starting at 4:30 p.m.
P: HHS- Forester, King and Pool; FC- Milam, Witt and Campbell.
2B: HHS- Rieschick, Martin and Allen.
SB: HHS- Booth (2); FC- Pentecost (2), Robinson (2), McCann (2), Vrtsiska (2), Reiss and Witt (2).