Weidman wills Demons past Mid-PrairieSophomore allows just one Golden Hawk hit over game’s first five frames
WELLMAN — Even though Washington pitcher Blake Weidman didn’t strike out many batters on Strike Out Cancer night, he kept Mid-Prairie’s hitters off balance enough for the Demons to earn a 6-3 non-conference victory at Paul N. Bailey Field on Tuesday night.
Weidman, a sophomore, allowed just one Mid-Prairie hit over the first five innings as the Demons built a 5-1 lead.
“I felt like I had one of my better games,” said Weidman, who was playing to honor his aunt, Kim, who had breast cancer. “I felt like I was throwing pretty hard.”
Weidman walked five batters over 5 1/3 innings, but kept the Golden Hawk bats quiet. He allowed three runs on just three hits and struck out two batters as he improved to 2-0 on the season.
“He did a tremendous job for us tonight,” Washington head coach Nathan Miller said of Weidman. “It was his second strong outing. We called a total of about 15 off-speed pitches the entire night. We spotted the fastball out and in, up and down, and that was key.”
The lone hit that Weidman ceded in the first five innings was a bloop single by freshman Carson Christianson that fell in front of Washington right fielder Ezra Graber in the second inning. The hit brought junior Spencer Shalla home to give the Golden Hawks a 1-0 lead.
But Washington (6-2) answered with six runs over the next four innings.
Senior Austin Witt and junior Mason Quigley drew back-to-back walks to start the third inning, and Witt scored as Quigley stole second base. Quigley scored when junior Jacob Green grounded out to give the Demons a 2-1 lead.
Green, who was moved to the leadoff spot in the order for Tuesday’s game, had a two-RBI single in the fourth inning to bolster his team’s lead to 4-1.
“I felt like I had to be more patient than I sometimes am and not swing at the first pitch,” said Green, who was playing to honor the memory of his grandmother, Pat Green, who died of cancer. “Especially after my first at-bat didn’t go how I wanted it to, I just needed to refocus and keep my weight back and be patient at the plate. I was able to do that in my third at-bat.”
Juniors Tanner Knupp and Elijah Wood started the fifth inning with back-to-back singles, and Knupp scored on Wood’s single. Then junior Walker Breard hit a solo home run, his first round-tripper of the season, to left-centerfield in the sixth inning.
Green went 1-for-4 at the plate and drove in three runs to increase his season total to a team-leading 12 RBIs. Breard, who is batting a team-best .458, went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run. Wood went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, while Knupp, senior Jake Dickinson and senior Kyle Roder added hits for the Demons.
Green’s two-RBI single and Breard’s homer both came with two outs.
“Offensively, we had some good approaches tonight with runners on base and two outs,” Miller said. “Green had a big hit for us that scored two. Walker had one in the gap with two outs. His home run came with two outs. So we had some good two-out hits. That’s what we were lacking against Mt. Pleasant the other night.”
Washington bounced back after losing both games of a doubleheader to rival Mt. Pleasant on Thursday.
“It felt good because obviously we had two games that we weren’t happy with,” Green said. “We made a lot of mistakes [on Thursday]. We still made a few mistakes tonight, but we felt like we came back and played a lot better.”
Mid-Prairie had chances to tie the game in the final two innings. Senior Jonas Coblentz drew a leadoff walk in the sixth inning, and then junior Seth Eash and Shalla hit back-to-back singles to load the bases. Then, with one out, freshman Karson Duwa drew a walk to bring home a run.
That brought the tying run to the plate in freshman Carson Christianson, and Miller brought in senior Austin Witt to pitch. Witt coaxed fly outs from Christianson and freshman Adam Schrock, although Christianson’s fly brought home a run.
The Golden Hawks got back-to-back two-out singles from Coblentz and Eash in the seventh inning, bringing the tying run to the plate in Shalla, but Witt got Shalla to fly out to left field. Witt got his first save of the season.
Mid-Prairie head coach Ryan Koller, whose team has struggled to a 3-12 start, said it was encouraging for his team to compete with Washington.
“We’re young, and it shows,” he said. “To hang with Washington, it’s very positive. Right now I don’t care about our record. It’s just about getting better.”