By Bill Cross
For the Herald Bulletin
---- — PENDLETON — With three losses in their first three games, the Pendleton Heights Arabians baseball team was ready for a break-out win. On Thursday, the Arabians jumped all over visiting Heritage Christian to take a 10-0, five inning win at Bill Stoudt Field.
The Arabians took advantage of the strong wind blowing out to right with two solo home runs in the first. Thomas Hall led off the game with a shot to right field and Hunter Cook followed with a one out blast to right center near the 350’ sign. The Arabians did not slow down in the second, scoring four runs on five hits to go up 6-0.
It was a strong start for Pendleton, a night after playing well against a solid Hamilton Southeastern squad. “We were close (last night),” said Pendleton manager Travis Keesling. “We just have to keep working, keep battling and that’s what we did today.” For Hall, it was a chance to get off on the right foot but also to keep playing hard to earn the win. “It felt good,” Hall said of his home run, which bent around the right field foul pole. “But I knew I had to shake it off because we had a lot of baseball to play.”
Meanwhile, Pendleton starting pitcher Austin MacMillan was razor sharp on the mound, tossing a three hitter without issuing a walk and striking out six. “Nails,” Keesling said of MacMillan’s winning performance. “He was awesome. Fifty-five pitches in five innings, you can’t ask for much better than that. He kept a good pace, kept guys off balance and worked at his pace, which is the most important thing.” MacMillan faced the minimum amount of hitters through four innings despite giving up two hits.
The Eagles Andy Hunt hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the second and catcher Noah Etchison threw out a steal attempt in the third. Hunt reached in the fifth and was the only runner stranded by the Eagles for the game.
Pendleton was held scoreless in the third but came through with two more runs in the fourth as Cook took advantage of a mistake by Marsh. Cook hit a slow dribbler down the first base line that was going to be the third out, but Marsh fielded it late in foul territory. On the next pitch, Cook drove a hard shot to right that plated MacMillan from second. Cook took second base on an error by the right fielder on the play and was lifted for a pinch runner in Nate McCormack. McCormack later scored on a passed ball to give Pendleton an 8-0 lead. It was one of five errors on the day for the Eagles. Pendleton had struggled with errors in their first three games but had none today as they played a steady, patient game.
After a scoreless top of the fifth, Quentin Miller hit a single to lead off the Arabian half of the inning. Cody Cochran came up as a pinch hitter for Justin Kirkpatrick and drove a one out, two run shot to left field to end the game on the ten run rule. The Arabians had dominated the Eagles one night after garnering some momentum from their 8-4 loss to HSE.
“As soon the as the game ended last night, we knew we were close,” said Hall. “There was one thing to fix (defensive errors) and we’re going to fix it. Tonight was great, it felt like as a team we were having fun, like we are coming around.”
The Arabians (1-3) travel to Richmond for a doubleheader Saturday before playing the winner of Anderson Prep and Alexandria in the Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament next week.