NEW LONDON – No. 363 (350 at New London) and counting.
That’s the number of baseball victories amassed by Wildcats coach Glen Morse after his team won for the 13th time against a single defeat, taking care of business Tuesday afternoon against Monroeville, 18-3 in Firelands Conference action.
New London is 9-0 in the FC with sights set on their 16th league title.
The Wildcats get St. Paul this afternoon in a Division IV sectional tournament game at Plymouth and then go to Norwalk on Friday to face the Flyers again.
And with the pipeline full of upcoming product, the 400-victory milestone for Morse is certainly within reach.
At the top of that list of underclassmen is freshman pitcher Nick Thomas. Not only did he get the win Tuesday afternoon, Thomas pounded back-to-back home runs, a long drive to left in the first and a two-run opposite-field shot in the second. He was intentionally walked in the third and walked on four pitches in the fourth.
“He’s going to be a good one,” Morse said. “He’s been here since kindergarten. His mom went to school here so he is truly home grown. But, he is not the only young arm we have. Cory Smith is a sophomore as is Dane Held. We have a left-hander (Cory Haswell) on the jayvee team that is equally impressive. It is going to be tough though for those up-and-coming kids to move into the lineup with just two seniors gone.
“We start four sophomores and a freshman,” the coach added. “That made for limited varsity experience to start the season. The kids make some mistakes because of youth but every time they go out, they look better and play with more confidence. We don’t have the .450 hitter, but we have had a couple of surprises. Chad Hopkins is over .400 as a senior that until last year had not played since he was 9-years old. Bryan Durfey played in the field but did not hit that much last year but he has hit the ball hard. Led by players like those two, this team expects to win every time out.”
The Cats were loose Tuesday against a team who had not won a game, but showing marked improvement on offense.
New London smacked 15 hits, chasing Monroeville right-handed starter Alan Pitz in the fourth in favor of left-hander Trevor Matzek.
Monroeville did manage to tie the game with a run in the top of the second when Chris Eads doubled to the right-field fence and scored on a Blake Kime double down the left-field line. Although Pitz kept the rally alive with a single, New London turned a double play to end the uprising.
The Wildcats then scored five in the second with Cory Marett bunting his way on followed by a two-run single to right by Robert DePottey. Thomas then cleared the bases with his second shot, an opposite field blow to left-center.
New London added four more in the third as designated hitter Chad Hopkins doubled for two runs while DePottey did the same for one. DePottey then hit a three-run shot over the barrier in left as part of an eight-run fourth. Pinch-hitter Andy Innes delivered two others with a double. Held, Durfey and Hopkins added hits.
Cory Long got every bit of a Thomas pitch in the third, sending it over the fence in left. The Eagles added their final run in the fifth when Cory Smith singled, took second on a Andrew Higgins single and moved around on back-to-back wild pitches.
“We hit the ball well, but we just did not get it done defensively (five errors),” Monroeville coach Mike Mandeville stated. “When you play a team as good as New London and with the tradition of this program, you have to make plays every inning.
“My starter struggled this afternoon after mistakes were made. I told him all he could do was re-focus. We have two left in our bid to get that first win,” the coach added.
The Eagles host South Central today.
Monroeville 011 01 — 3 9 5
N. London 154 8x — 18 15 0
WP: Thomas. LP: Pitz.
2B: Hopkins (NL), Innes (NL), Eads (M), Kime (M). HR: Thomas (NL) 2, DePottey (NL), Long (M).