Rebels senior Brent Gates slides back to first base as East Rutherford tries to pick him off on Friday. West Lincoln lost the game 9-2 to the Cavaliers. The Rebels will be back in action against Chase on Tuesday. Jenny Walling / LTN
The way East Rutherford has been barreling through the Midwest 2A Conference, the only thing that has hampered the Cavaliers has been the unpredictable spring weather.
“We have been battling some bad weather, and it`s been tough to get going because of that,” East Rutherford coach Bobby Reynolds said Friday after his team beat West Lincoln 9-2 on a cold, rainy afternoon for baseball.
The fans that braved the cold at West Lincoln High saw the two-time defending state 2A champions put on a clinic in the execution of the fundamentals.
The Cavaliers (12-1, 6-0 MW2A) took advantage of West Lincoln walks and errors to score in six of the seven innings. The East Rutherford defense turned two double plays, and the offense produced a two-out, two-RBI hit as well a bunt sacrifice that scored a run.
Throw in the solid pitching of lefthander Chris Kimbrell (5 hits allowed, six strikeouts, two bases on balls), and it was another dominating performance for East Rutherford.
Kimbrell used a mixture of off-speed pitches and fastballs to control the West Lincoln hitters. The lefthander`s only problems came in the third inning when he walked two batters, and in the sixth when the Rebels used an infield error to score an unearned run.
The Cavaliers nearly broke the game open in the first inning when the first four batters reached base. Garland Jones opened the game with a triple, and West Lincoln starting pitcher Zac Koehler then issued consecutive walks to Chad Flack, Stephen Harris and Preston Shytle.
However, Koehler worked his way out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation to avert early disaster, giving up only two runs.
The Cavaliers went up 3-0 in the second inning on a Zoehler wild pitch, and made the score 5-0 in the third on Jeff McCracker`s two-out, two-run bloop single.
East Rutherford got two more in the fourth to take a commanding 7-1 advantage. The highlight was Zeke Blanton`s perfectly-placed bunt in front of the plate that scored Flack from third base.
The Rebels (9-5, 3-3 MW2A) scored in the third on a single by Koehler and in the sixth on a hit by sophomore catcher Chris Henderson.
In six innings of work, loser Koehler (3-1) gave up seven hits, walked four, hit two batters, uncorked a wild pitch and struck out two.
“I thought Zac threw pretty well,” West Lincoln coach Alan Chapman said of Koehler. “He tried to be real fine early. His walks weren`t bad pitches. He was just nibbling a little bit. Through the first five innings, he only gave up five hits.”
The problem was that the Cavaliers made the most of those five hits, moving runners along with hit-and-run plays and sacrifices.
“East Rutherford executed very well. They made plays and they forced us to make some. We didn`t make a couple, and that has caught up to us in our last couple of games,” Chapman said.
Friday`s loss came on the heels of Thursday`s 10-1 pounding by Bandys.
“We need a win bad, but I was pleased with the effort today versus last night,” Chapman said.
One bright spot for West was the baserunning of leadoff hitter Dylan Anthony, who stole two bases and scored a run.
Despite the outcome, East Rutherford`s Reynolds sees good things ahead for a young West Lincoln team.
“I still think they have a chance for that third spot, since we are sending three to the playoffs,” Reynolds said of the Rebels. “They have some good young players. They just have to learn how to win.”
ER 212 201 1–9 7 2
WL 001 001 0–2 6 4
Kimbrell, Whittemore (7) and Harris. Koehler, Lawrence (7) and Henderson. W–Kimbell. L–Koehler.by Mike Powell