PLYMOUTH — What a difference a day makes. Especially when it comes to hitting.
Plymouth’s Pilgrims struggled to put together big hits on Wednesday night in a loss to South Bend St. Joe. Less than 24 hours later they had hits in abundance on the way to a win over previously undefeated South Central 10-6.
The Pilgrims could manage just two hits on Wednesday but exploded for 11 on Thursday with leadoff man and shortstop Justin Drudge leading the way with a double, triple and an RBI as part of a three-hit night and scoring two runs himself. Riley Cartwright added a two-hit, two-RBI night.
The strategy was simple.
“I told them to see some pitches and get comfortable, especially the first time through the lineup,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Wolfe. “Cody Gamble was right on the ball, Spencer (Maecroft) squared that one up to right center. We knew we probably weren’t going to see the pitching we did last night so we said ‘Let’s hit some fastballs.’”
Plymouth pitching was no less solid with starter Jacob Frantz getting the win in four innings work, giving up five runs but just two earned, five hits, three strike outs and four walks. Cody Gamble was rock solid in two innings of relief, giving up a run and striking out two, and Bailey Clark was close to perfect as a closer striking out two of three hitters in his inning of work.
“When he got his change up down he was effective,” said Wolfe of his starter Frantz. “We got some ground balls and he did a good job of keeping them off-balance, especially in that second inning. You know what he’s capable of watching that second inning. I thought he figured it out.”
Frantz struck out the side in inning number two but tired in the fifth, giving way to Gamble. Clark — who had a pinch hit RBI single before coming to the mound — appeared to be on a mission, pounding the strike zone with his fastball and mixing a good curve to get the save.
Frantz was also the recipient of some timely — if not outstanding — defense in the fourth from Blake Milliser in center and freshman second baseman Maecroft.
“After that inning I turned to coach (Nick) Hellinga, and I said that could have been bad,” said Wolfe with a laugh. “Those balls aren’t caught — the one rolls to the fence — and we could have given up three or four runs in that inning. I call that the Bermuda Triangle there (the area behind first base in the outfield where Maecroft made his circus catch). I probably throw 30 to 40 balls to that area every night that we run defensive drills because every night there is at least one ball hit there.”
With the whole team effort Wolfe was still complimentary of his two young relievers.
“I was proud of Cody coming in there and doing what he did and Bailey at the end,” said the first-year Plymouth boss. “That’s kind of the role we’re looking for him this year. We know what he’s capable of on the mound — give us one or two innings, get some at-bats — we know what he can do with that fastball, and the curveball is good.”
• PLYMOUTH 10,
SOUTH CENTRAL 6
SC: 102 021 0 — 6 10 1
Plymouth: 330 121 x — 10 11 3
Jasper Dittmar (L), Cooper Hussman and Josh Mohlke; Jacob Frantz (W 1-0), Cody Gamble (5), Bailey Clark (S) and Elijah Nixon.
2B: Hussman (SC) 2, Logan Lionberger (SC), Alec Sturdy (SC), J.T. Snyder (SC), Justin Drudge (P), Milliser (P), Maecroft (P).
3B: Drudge (P)
Records: South Central 3-1. Plymouth 1-1.