After a four-run first, Arcanum found hits and offense tough to come by thanks to Newton pitcher Austin Evans, but held on to win a great Cross County Conference baseball game.
Arcanum – Officially, it took an hour and twenty eight minutes to play. A good baseball game on a beautiful day in Arcanum with two Cross County Conference kingpins, both 7-2, squaring off with contrasting pitchers, and styles.
Arcanum’s Connor Pohl, an Ohio State commit featured in Wednesday’s Press Pros, threw hard.
Newton’s Austin Evans, a junior, threw soft, picking his spots and changing speeds.
Arcanum, and Pohl, started fast, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first on five hits, a walk and a hit batsman.. The big knock…a one-out double by left fielder Hunter Saunders that plated a pair that at the time seemed significant, yes, but harmless enough. Teammate Nate Kubik followed with a hit of his own, and two more RBIs, and what’s that they say about the dog that eats fast don’t eat long?
Well in this case…it was long enough. The Trojans parlayed those four runs into an eventual 4-1 win, their eighth, and frankly…Evans and his Newton teammates deserved a better fate. Evans would give up but five hits over the next five innings, baffling the Arcanum hitters with a variety of off-speed pitches, up and down, in and out.
And behind him the Indians turned a pair of double plays on hard hit line drives that left runners on first base in no-man’s land.
In the meantime, Connor Pohl was having an interesting day of his own on the mound. He went the distance, striking out seven, but he walked five and hit three…in addition to surrendering just four hits, officially. But of those eleven base runners, only shortstop Wade Ferrell’s RBI single in the top of the third was enough to dent home plate, driving in teammate Brian Delcamp.
Like Arcanum, Newton hit some shots! Line drives to all parts of the field…but every one of them seemed destined for someone’s glove.
“Good baseball game,” said Arcanum coach Randy Baker. “Two different approaches. They took a lot of pitches and were determined to run up Connor’s pitch count. And he wasn’t on his game tonight. Normally you see a different Connor Pohl, but he had a bad night tonight and hopefully that’s the only one we’ll see this year.”
Any explanation over his offense shutting it down so abruptly after the first?
“Our offensive approach just changed after the first two innings,” said Baker. “We were real aggressive at first and after that we got passive and took too many strikes.”
Hunter Saunders would describe it as simply, “waiting for a fastball that didn’t come.” The pitch they wanted to hit…Austin Evans was unwilling to throw.
Arcanum finished with those 4 runs on 10 hits and played error-free baseball.
Newton dropped to 7-3 with 1 run on just four hits and committed but one error.
It was a game that proved that it’s not how, or when, you score…but “if” you score. Who would have suspected the final six innings after the opening frame…that Hunter Saunders’ double of the trademark would end up being the winning hit?
“It felt petty good,” he said sheepishly. Saunders does not get a lot of interview opportunities. “Really nice…fastball, right there. It was good because we slowed down after that. I think we started taking too many pitches. He was throwing a lot of off-speed so you really didn’t know what was coming.”
Connor Pohl struggled, uncharacteristically, but competed. He gave his team a chance to win and Saunders, Kubik, Mitch Burrell, and Austin Baker responded with those four first-inning runs.
Austin Evans? He would have liked another chance. But thanks to the double plays behind him he faced just one over the requisite number of hitters for his last four innings. He would have liked a better start. He’d have taken a mulligan. But no one could fault his finish!