That good pitching gives your team a chance to win is a winning formula this spring for an experienced Centerville baseball team.
The Elks backed up a two-hitter by senior Brian Mroz on Tuesday with solid defense and an advantageous offense to beat Springfield 8-0 in a Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division game.
The Elks (13-1, 6-0), ranked No. 4 in Division I in the state coaches poll, shut out the Wildcats for the second straight day. Nick Bertram threw a two-hitter Monday following junior Ryan Fox’s shutout of Cincinnati St. Xavier on Saturday.
“It’s no secret we’ve got some pretty top-notch pitchers,” Elks coach Terry Dickten said. “We’ve got three or four kids that can play with anybody.”
Mroz (3-0), who struck out 11 and allowed only a single to Riley Borders and a double to Jeff Mefford, has signed to pitch at Eastern Kentucky. Bertram will be at Miami next year and Derek Hendrixson will pitch and play shortstop at Heidelberg.
The pitching of Borders on Monday and Derek Williams (1-3) on Tuesday was good enough to keep Springfield (5-12, 0-6) in both games, but pitching hasn’t been enough for the young Wildcats. The Elks scored the final four runs of Monday’s 7-0 win with two outs in the seventh with the help of an error. The Elks had nine hits Tuesday, but the Wildcats committed five errors that led to four unearned runs.
“Our pitchers have really kept us in the game for most of the year,” Springfield coach Rob Cassell said. “Defensively we have to sharpen things up and offensively we have to put the ball in play.”
The Wildcats entered Tuesday’s game hitting .224 with only center fielder Kawambee Moss over .300.
“We’re young overall, but we have a lot to work with,” Cassell said “We’ve got to just sharpen some things up.”
The sharpest thing going Tuesday was Mroz’s fastball and curveball even if, as he said, his velocity was a few miles per hour below the 89 he was topping out at last summer.
“I was spotting my fastball pretty well today, and my curveball was also spot on,” he said. “That really helped me keep them off balance.”
The Elks rallied with two outs in the first to take a 2-0 lead on a single by Jake Holland and a double by Joey Weingartner. They added two runs apiece in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Leaving two runners on with nobody out in the fifth inning is the thing Dickten says needs to be better if the Elks are to reach their goal of making it to state.
“Our pitching is going to be good, our defense is going to be solid,” he said. “It’s just the hitting part. Sometimes we struggle just like every other team.”