For the second time this season, Swanton pitcher Austin Luce was able to limit the Delta offense while on his way to getting the win on the mound.
The first was back on April 4 in a non-league contest, and then Monday he pitched five scoreless innings as the Bulldogs defeated the Panthers 4-0 in Northwest Ohio Athletic League baseball.
“I guess (he was) effectively wild in a way,” said Swanton coach Tim McCarthy of the senior’s outing. “Where he was falling behind some hitters. That’s why I took him out after the fifth. But, he threw strikes when he had to. Struggled with his curveball a little bit today, but he located his fastball pretty good.”
“He throws strikes,” noted Delta skipper Damon Mattimore. “The velocity I thought was there for him again tonight. It’s just one of those things that we’re scuffling a little bit swinging the bat. We had our chances, we just got to put the ball in play.”
Half of the Bulldogs’ scoring came in the bottom of the first inning. The game, scheduled to be in Swanton originally, was moved to Delta’s Jim Harmon Field in light of Swanton’s field being unplayable.
Hunter Mix garnered a leadoff walk, stole second, advanced to third on Roman Epley’s single, and came home on an RBI single from Michael Lawniczak. Later in the frame, with runners on second and third, a ground out by Derek Floyd plated Epley for a 2-0 Bulldog lead.
“We talk a lot about setting the tone early. Trying to jump out and get that lead. And play with the lead,” stated McCarthy. “Obviously we had four for the game. I thought we left quite a few out there. We’re gonna have to find ways to score those runs if we want to make a little run through the season.”
From there the Panthers did a nice job of limiting big innings from the Dogs. Swanton would scrape runs across in the fourth and sixth innings.
“If we can do what we did do to them (to other teams). It proved to us that we can play a clean game,” explained Mattimore. “We kept them to four runs. Kayden Kurth had a heck of a night coming in (in relief) and minimizing for us. With big spots in their lineup. He did a good job tonight.”
Similarly, Delta also had chances in those innings but came up empty.
In the fourth, the Panthers had two in scoring position following Chase Cooper’s single and a double to left center field by Tristen Saeger. However, with an out already recorded, Luce struck out a pair to stymie that threat.
Cooper once again singled to center field with one out in the sixth. He proceeded to steal second base, but back-to-back punchouts – this time delivered by Mix who was on in relief – kept the Panthers off the board.
“We get into fastball counts and we’re just finding a way to not put the bat on the ball,” admitted Mattimore. “But, we’re young and we’re learning from it. So we’ll see how this gets going during tournament time for us.”
Swanton made it really tough on the Panthers with their run in the home half of the sixth, leaving them down four with just one at bat remaining. It came to fruition after a Tommy Chonko single and steal of second, followed by Mix’s base hit.
“To their (my team’s) credit, they did a good job,” said McCarthy of the late insurance run. “Tommy put the ball in play. Hunter Mix has had a tremendous season. He did what he’s been doing. Got us the big RBI hit.”
Cooper started the game on the mound for the Panthers, going an inning and a third to be charged with the loss. Kurth finished the game for the Panthers, helping to limit the damage.
Swanton hosted Maumee in the non-league Tuesday where they won 8-1. Delta fell at home to Stryker, 17-12.
The Dogs are now 1-3 in the league while Delta drops to 0-4. Swanton (11-3) plays host to Liberty Center Thursday in NWOAL play.
Delta (2-14) travels to Bryan Thursday and Hilltop on Friday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010