Pitching and defense, the old cliché, is what has turned around the Millbrook baseball team’s season.
The Wildcats (9-5, 6-2 Cap-8 4A) have won six of their last seven entering the Bobby Murray Tournament, which begins Thursday.
“We’ve been pitching well, playing good defense and getting timely hitting,” head coach Austin James said. “We’re not going to pound out 12 hits a night, but we’ve hit when it mattered. And the pitching, it’s been solid as they’re learning out there.”
Senior Cole Leneschmidt is just 1-0 but sports a 2.03 earned run average with 33 strikeouts and seven walks in 20 2/3 innings. Sophomore Brian Pearce is 4-0 with a sparkling 0.66 ERA.
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“Most of our games have been close games,” said junior Gregory Strickland, who is 2-1 with 18 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings. “We’ve been hitting the ball very well overall in conference play so far. We’ve not walked a bunch in the games we have won. In the ones we haven’t we’re not throwing strikes and walking guys or leaving pitches up where they can hit them.”
With a younger staff comes some growing pains, James admits.
He pointed to the five walks in an 8-7 loss to Leesville Road on March 28. This after having a 72-25 ratio coming in.
“That is a little uncharacteristic for us,” James said. “We’ve still got some guys on the mound who aren’t used to this big game situation. We have some guys that are still learning how to experience that.”
Others contributing on the mound include sophomore Seth Werner, seniors Porter Baldwin and Dominic Rodts and junior Christian Miller.
“I’ve seen a lot from those guys,” senior outfielder Travis Snead said. “They’ve done a good job shutting most teams down (in conference). Greg and Cole, they’ve been dicing. Cole had 11 strikeouts last time out. If we keep the good pitching up, we’re going to be good.”