by Beau Wicker Sports Editor
---- — WALTON — If the Lewis Cass Kings were angry about the loss the night before, they took their frustrations out on the baseball Thursday night.
The Kings struck for nine runs in the first inning in an 11-1 win in five innings over Taylor in a Mid-Indiana Conference game.
“They came back after last night and played pretty good,” Cass coach Greg Marschand said of his squad.
The Kings bounced back strong from a loss at Hamilton Heights Wednesday.
“I was proud with the way they came back. They were ready to compete and play,” Marschand said.
The Kings improved to 8-4 and 1-1 in the MIC and handed the Titans (5-7, 0-2) their fourth straight loss.
The game was played in a 40-degree wind chill with the wind blowing out at 23 mph.
But that did not affect Cass junior right-hander Jake Wilburn, who shut down the Titans. Wilburn allowed one run (none earned) on four hits and two walks in five innings, striking out four.
“Wilburn’s definitely a guy we’re counting on,” Marschand said. “When he goes out every time we know we have a chance to win. He’s a competitor, he’ll battle you. He’s a tough nut. He really displays that on the mound and with his bat. He comes to play every night.”
Ryan Bixler had two hits in the first inning alone for the Kings and finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Wilburn and R.J. Phillips each had RBI doubles in the first. Jake Miller, Brandon Carden and Ty Stover had RBI singles in the opening frame.
Carden, Wilburn and Miller each finished with two hits in the contest. Noah Byers added a base hit, RBI and run scored.
Taylor scored its lone run in the top of the fourth on an error on a fly ball. Jordan Lazaro, Nick Barnett, Jordan Maroney and Jonathan Mahone had the Titans’ four hits in the contest.
Lazaro got the start on the mound but didn’t get out of the first inning as he walked four and allowed six hits. Mike Gammans relieved and allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits in 3 1/3 innings.
“Obviously you’re never happy when you get down 9-0 in the first inning. But I at least thought the kids showed a little bit of character after that kind of hanging in it,” Taylor coach Brent Owens said. “I have nothing but praise for Mike Gammans. Mike Gammans is a senior and he came in a tough situation, and he gave us a huge lift tonight. That’s the most innings he’s ever thrown for me at the varsity level and from my standpoint that was the one positive we can draw from tonight.”
The Titans lost to Western 16-2 Tuesday and to Kokomo 4-3 Wednesday.
“This is the toughest part of our schedule,” Owens said. “We’ve got a young team, we only start two seniors. That’s not an excuse but we’re going through a tough stretch of our schedule. We were 5-3 and we’ve lost our last four ballgames. Hopefully we’ll turn it around and get it going.”
Marschand said the Titans can turn things around quickly.
“Brent does a great job with the kids. There’s not anyone who loves baseball more than Brent Owens. He does great with his guys. I know they’re pretty young so for the next couple years they’ll be a team to be reckoned with, that’s for sure. “
The Kings allowed eight unearned runs in a 9-4 loss at Heights Wednesday. They also walked five and threw five wild pitches.
“There’s no excuse to play like that,” Marschand said. “I’m proud to see them come out and attack the ball like they did and be aggressive. That’s more like Cass baseball.”
Josh Rankert took the loss at Heights. It was the second straight year the Kings lost their MIC opener against the Huskies.
“Rankert’s a lot better pitcher than what he pitched last night,” Marschand said. “Evan Ohman came in and we made an error or two behind him that hurt him or he’d have been out of the inning. Josh we’ve got to get going here. We really count on Josh and he didn’t have a good outing so we look for better things there.”
Cass travels to Tri-Central tonight.