Special to the Grove Sun
JAY-After four innings of some pretty intense play against Vinita at Jay’s Trollinger-Haggard Field Wednesday evening, the latter three frames turned into a slugfest that saw the visitors break away for an 8-2 road win.
Jay went with their left-handed senior-to-be Kyle Shambaugh and the Hornets countered with their big right-hander, Hunter Highsmith. Both starting pitchers got the respective sides to go down in order in the first inning.
Following the scoreless first at-bats, Shambaugh walked Highsmith with one out. But the crafty southpaw caught Vinita’s courtesy runner leaning too far toward second base and picked him off cleanly. Shambaugh then struck out the Hornets’ Ty Kay to get out of the top of the frame unscathed.
Despite hitting the ball on the proverbial screws, the Bulldogs went down in order in the bottom of the second. After a scoreless third, Vinita’s Corey Stiefel got the game’s first hit with a one-out single in the fourth and moved to third on another single by the cleanup man.
But Shambaugh kept the visitors off of the scoreboard by striking out Highsmith and stranding the pair of runners. The Bulldog offense drew first blood in the home half of the inning, when Shambaugh picked up a one-out single and advanced to second on a walk to Casey Loomis. Matt Henderson gave Jay the 1-0 lead with his RBI single that scored Shambaugh.
As a result of a predetermined pitch count Shambaugh was relieved in the top of the fifth. And the visitors took advantage of a pair of base on balls and a Logan Downing single to load the bases. A subsequent error charged to the Bulldog infield plated a pair of runners, giving them a 2-1 edge. But the inning’s big blow came off the bat of Stiefel, when his base hit plated two more for a 4-1 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, Jay’s Dalen Root led off with a single and moved to second on Kellen Brown’s infield grounder. A wild pitch moved Root to third, then crossed the plate on a subsequent passed ball.
The Hornets trumped the Jay tally when Highsmith followed a lead off hit with an RBI single in the sixth. The Bulldogs went three up three down in the sixth to go into the final frame trailing 6-2. And Vinita put together three more hits, to go with another pair of walks and an error, scoring 3 more times in the top of the 7th. Jay’s offense had no answer for the onslaught, falling by a half dozen.