GARDNER — It hasn’t been a winning season for either of the high school baseball teams that played Wednesday evening at Ritchie Field, but that hasn’t stopped the players from trying to learn and the coaches from teaching.
The homestanding PikeView Panthers breezed to a 26-1 win over the Montcalm Generals in an intracounty game that was over in 4 ½ innings.
PikeView (5-14) scored half its runs in the bottom of the first inning, though runners were regularly held on base when they would have advanced on passed balls or wild pitches in more competitive games.
Eight of the nine starters for the Panthers were lifted for bench players to begin the second frame. The reserves accounted for 12 of the remaining 13 runs, and 10 hits, with no errors.
“It’s been a very difficult year all the way around, as far as getting time in, getting practice in, even getting JV games in,” said PikeView head coach Josh Wyatt. “So tonight was a great opportunity for a lot of kids (who’ve) been working hard.
“I thought they handled it well. They made plays, (were) very aggressive at the plate — so an all-around good effort.”
As the big crop of seniors took seats on the bench, knowing that they were to join family members for a Senior Day postgame ceremony, they were still “supportive, the entire time,” Wyatt said. “It was a good night for bonding. So it was a good night, all around.”
One of those seniors was Kobey Taylor-Williams, who’s wrapping up a year in which he played baseball, basketball and soccer for PikeView.
He was one of five Panthers who scored twice in the first inning, after drawing a walk and lashing an RBI single.
“That’s my job as leadoff (man),” he said, “to get on, move over, and get in.”
“I love these guys, man,” he said about his teammates, many of whom also play multiple sports for PikeView. “It was fun, man. Love playing the game.”
Senior Anthony Bisaha saw only three pitches as a batter, but smacked one for a run-scoring double and got on base via an error in his other plate appearance. He also scored two runs off those opportunities.
Before the night was out, sophomore Connor Lilly and senior Bryce Lester each hit two-RBI doubles.
Peyton Greer also drove in a run with a double, and closed out the game by striking out three Montcalm batters as a relief pitcher in the fifth.
Starting pitcher Jake Coalson, another senior, took the win, allowing one hit and one walk, and striking out four Generals in two innings.
Montcalm (0-9) cobbled together its run with two outs in the fifth and final inning. John Hall was pit by a pitch, stole second and dashed home on a single to right by Kevin Robertson.
The Generals had just one other hit, a first-inning slice up the left-field line by Devin Green.
Montcalm first baseman Logan Lewis pulled off the game’s only double play, to conclude the fourth inning. He caught a lazy liner for the second out and stomped on the bag to double up a PikeView runner who had strayed too far toward second.
Montcalm first-year head coach Dakota Parnell said, “It takes heart (for players) to keep going out there, and losing like this, but everyone’s new to baseball, so it happens.
“We have progressed a long way from the beginning of the season,” he said. “This was probably the worst game we’ve played … .”
Parnell said being the head coach involves “a lot more work than what a lot of people would think.” But in addition to his administrative tasks, he likes the challenge of teaching the game to baseball newcomers.
“We’re getting ninth graders who’ve never played middle-school baseball, and we’re getting them in here and getting them started,” he said. “(In) games, we still struggle, but it makes me feel a lot better.”
He said PikeView showed “consistent hitting” on Thursday. “Their fielding was fine. I don’t think I saw them make an error today. They’re a good team.”
PikeView will host Greater Beckley Christian School this afternoon at Ritchie Field, looking to atone for a recent loss to the Crusaders.
“As far as moving forward, this team is close,” Wyatt said. “If I can get them to understand that they’re close, and if we can clean up one or two things … over the next 10 days, I feel good about where we’re at.”
“If we can find some practice time over the next couple of days, we’re going to be a different team, come sectional play. We’re very athletic. We’ve just got to learn situations a little bit better, and be prepared for those.”
Montcalm is scheduled to play next at Mount View on May 27.
At Ritchie Field
Montcalm ……. 000 01 — 1 2 7
PikeView …….. (13)85 0x — 26 17 0
Trent Nunn, Hunter Auton (3) and Isaiah Eastridge. Jake Coalson, Tyler Toney (3), Peyton Greer (5) and Anthony Bisaha, Gavin Knowles (2). WP — Coalson.