It was business as usual for Woodward-Granger (13-4-1) with a 10-0 win over CAM (10-1) and marked the second game in a row the No. 5 Hawks have ended a game before a full seven innings.
Let the record show…
This wasn’t a case of the Hawks running up the score against a team like West Central Valley earlier in the season that routinely exits games before the fifth inning. The Cougars came to Granger with an undefeated record and a 12.3 run average margin of victory. Except their record came entirely within Class 1A competition.
Hawks pitcher Caden Easter said he took a look at CAM’s stats before the game and knew he’d have some serious work.
“Wow, everybody’s batting .500. Gotta get pretty geared up for this game,” Easter said.
Head coach Eric Evans said before the game that considering their opponents’ astounding resume — even in a class below — that the Hawks would need to catch an early wind to let the wind out of CAM’s strong sails.
Evans isn’t a stranger to having an impressive resumé and the effect that has on a team’s mentality. He mentioned how in 2017 with a 25-0 record, the Hawks felt they were completely unstoppable. Then a 13-13 Greene County team punched them in the mouth early and won 8-0.
Woodward did the same exact thing to CAM by running to an 8-0 lead in the first three innings thanks to the work at the top of the order that has separated itself from the pack.
W-G’s score comprised almost entirely of runs from the first four batters — Reese Jamison (3), Bryce Achenbach (2), Colby Tague (1) and Worth Henry (1). Momentum died down the next four slots but Jack Grell in the nine-hole has truly come alive and scored three times as well thanks to his consistency getting on base for the top of the order.
Their production was almost entirely self-contained as well considering Brandon Worley and Trevor Simmons were the only batters outside the top four to drive in a run.
And on the season as a whole now, each of the top four batters and Grell rank in the conference’s top 15 in runs or RBIs.
Jamison: 20 runs (1st) / 12 RBI (4th)
Tague: 9 runs (28th) / 15 RBI (2nd)
Henry: 11 runs (13th) / 12 RBI (4th)
Achenbach: 16 runs (4th) / 9 RBI (13th)
Grell: 12 runs (11th) / 6 RBI (36th)
A bull in the pen
Winning by 10 runs doesn’t typically come entirely by way of the barrel.
On the mound for the entire game, Easter struck out 11 batters in 63 pitches. Had the Hawks been a little less successful at the plate, another inning likely would have helped him top his season opening performance for 12 K’s in 63 pitches.
After the first two batters made contact, with one Cougar getting on base, Easter caught the next two looking to retire the side.
“As soon as I throw the first batter, usually I know if I got it or not. In the bullpen I felt hot, didn’t know if I had the energy or not. But when the adrenaline kicks in, you just know,” Easter said of his big night.
On the season as a whole, Easter moved up to third place in the conference leaderboard with 33 total strikeouts. Kole Bradley of Des Moines Christian holds the lead with 36.
Per seven innings pitched, no one with at least 12 innings touches Easter’s rate of 14.7 strikeouts per seven innings. Bradley sits at 12 and a pair of Van Meter’s aces have a rate around 11 K/7.
Not only are batters being sent to the dugout at a high rate, the senior is doing so with a low pitch count. It takes just an average of 7.33 pitches. Only Des Moines Christian’s Trey Castile has a higher rate of 7.23.
And of pitchers with at least 12 innings, Easter also leads the conference with a .48 WHIP. Jay Dorenkamp ranks fourth with a .74 mark.