The New Franklin Bulldogs baseball team lived up to its No. 1 ranking Monday night while hosting the Class 2 Westran Hornets.
Although the Hornets entered the game at 11-1 overall, losing only to the Class 3 Macon Tigers, they were no matched against the Bulldogs or TJ Schapira or Zach Evans for that matter while dropping a 7-0 decision.
While the Bulldogs improved to 16-3 on the season, head coach Erich Gerding said Evans threw a 74-pitch gem against Westran.
“Our defense was fantastic and fun to watch,” Gerding said. “We had 15 infield assists. Tanner White got us going in the third with a one-out triple, then TJ had a great at-bat and hit a great ball to get him in. In the fifth, we got really patient. Jake, Blake and Tanner all walked to lead off the inning. TJ got one in with a single and Jerrod kind of broke it open with a liner up the middle. We had a string of quality at-bats and overall, did much at the plate. This was a great game to be a part of. A very well-played game on both sides.”
It was also a very well-played game on Schapira’s and Evans’ part. Schapira finished the game 3-for-4 with three singles and two RBIs. As for Evans, who improved to 4-0 on the season, the senior hurler limited Westran to just four hits through seven innings of play while walking one and striking out two.
Although the Bulldogs wound up pitching the shutout against Westran, both teams had their chances in the first-two innings. Westran wasted a one-out single in the top-half of the first but went down in order in the second.
As for New Franklin, they also put a runner on in its half of the first after a two-out single by Schapira, who was left stranded. Meanwhile, in the second, the Bulldogs threatened again after Dylan Johnson was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and then advanced to third on the single to left by Zach Evans. Kaleb Anderton also picked up a walk in the inning to load the bases. But even then New Franklin was denied an opportunity to score when Westran pitcher Austin Dale struck out Jacob Hendrix to end the inning.
In the third, Evans again worked a 1-2-3 inning while New Franklin finally got on the board with one run when Tanner White hit a one-out triple to right center and later scored on the single up the middle by Schapira.
Meanwhile, after a scoreless fourth inning, New Franklin all but broke the game wide open in the bottom-half of the fifth by exploding for five runs on just two hits.
Of course Westran didn’t help itself in the inning with three straight walks to load the bases. Then, after back-to-back singles by Schapira and Jerrod Riley to extend the lead to 4-0, senior pitcher Morgan Wallace issued the fourth walk in the inning to Dylan Johnson. Two batters later, Evans was hit by a pitch to bring in another run to make it 5-0 while Kaleb Anderton hit into a fielder’s choice for the fifth run in the inning and sixth of the game.
In the sixth, Westran had its best chance to score a run when Dylan Payton reached on an error to lead off the inning and then advanced to second on the infield single by Tyler Barron. However, after striking out Jacob Denslow for the second out, Evans came back and got Mathew Edwards on a fly out to center to end the inning.
As for New Franklin in the sixth, the Bulldogs started the rally once again with one out in the inning after White received a free pass to first. Two batters later, Riley drilled a double to left center to score White for the seventh run of the ballgame.
In the Hornets half of the seventh, Evans worked around a one-out walk to Parker Howard by getting Spencer Untiedt and Austin Dale on ground outs to end the game.
Austin Dale took the loss on the mound for Westran by giving up five runs on six hits and four walks while striking out seven batters in four-plus innings. Wallace then came in and pitched two innings in relief and allowed two runs on two hits and three walks while striking out three.
Jerrod Riley also finished the game with two hits with a single, double and three RBIs. White tripled in the game while Levi Bishop and Zach Evans each singled.
For Westran, Jacob Denslow had two singles while Austin Dale and Austin Sears added one single each.
In the JV game, New Franklin defeated Westran by a score of 4-1.
While playing a total of five innings, Westran got on the board first with one run in the top-half of the second. Meanwhile, after a scoreless third, New Franklin rallied back with one in the fourth and three again in the fifth for the victory.
Gerding said Austin Jones had a walk-off bases-loaded double in the bottom of the fifth. “This was a good win,” Gerding said. “Dalton Johnson did a great job in relief and it was good to see Kaleb Anderton get some quality innings.”
Dalton Johnson picked up the win in relief for New Franklin. Kaleb Anderton started the game and pitched the first-three innings, giving up one run on one hit and three walks while striking out two. Johnson then came in and pitched two innings in relief and struck out four batters.
New Franklin also out-hit Westran 2-1, with Austin Jones going 1-for-2 with a double and three RBIs and Hunter Rohlfing adding one single.