A five-run outburst in the sixth inning broke open Monday’s Western Buckeye League clash between Kenton and host Defiance as the Bulldogs kept pace in the league title race with an 8-1 home victory.
The win moves Defiance (14-4, No. 5 Division II OHSBCA) to 7-1 in WBL contests this season with just a home tilt with Ottawa-Glandorf on Tuesday remaining on the schedule. O-G is 6-1 in league play while Van Wert is 5-1.
“It was a tight game until the fifth and we were able to get a couple runs with the bunting game,” said Defiance coach Tom Held. “Then in the sixth we got a leadoff walk and really opened up the game.
“I thought Kenton really played well tonight ... (Kenton pitcher Trevor) Robinson was effective on the hill by just throwing strikes.”
Defiance struck first in the opening inning as a leadoff single by Jacob Howard turned into a run on an RBI double by Bradyn Shaw. Unfortunately, the hosts were unable to take advantage of a pair of walks to load the bases.
Kenton knotted things up in the top of the fifth as a one-out single by Brent Rader turned into a Wildcat tally thanks to a throwing error, passed ball and another throwing error after a flyout.
However, Defiance had the answer in the bottom of the frame, thanks to a Dan Hoffman one-out single. Howard chipped in a base knock before a Jack Mortier sacrifice bunt scored Hoffman. Camden Roth scored Howard on a sacrifice fly to put Defiance up 3-1 and again the Bulldogs left the bases loaded.
The sixth inning shut the door on any Kenton upset hopes as Drew Kellermyer led off the inning with a walk and was driven in by a Hoffman sacrifice bunt. Shaw ripped a two-run single to left field before David Jimenez tallied a two-run hit of his own as the Bulldogs tallied five runs on three hits.
“We really struggled at the plate the first four innings but the guys hung in there and got some big hits when we needed to,” said Held. “When we get the right guys on base, we can run a little and put pressure on the opposing team.”
Shaw finished with a doubly great day for the ‘Dogs, leading Defiance at the plate with two singles, a double and three RBIs while improving to 3-0 on the season with nine strikeouts, two hits and six walks tallied over six innings. Jacob Howard came on to pitch a scoreless seventh.
“Bradyn didn’t have his A stuff tonight ... but still was able to get some big outs when he needed to,” said Held of the sophomore starter. “Once he can establish a third pitch, this will make him even better when he doesn’t have that great command.”
Following the league tilt with Ottawa-Glandorf, Defiance will host Perrysburg on Thursday.
Kenton 000 010 0 — 1 2 1
Defiance 100 025 x — 8 8 2
Records: Defiance 14-4 (7-1 WBL), Kenton 4-11 (1-6 WBL).
Winning pitcher: Bradyn Shaw (6 innings, 1 run, 0 earned, 2 hits, 9 strikeouts, 6 walks). Other: Jacob Howard.
Losing pitcher: Trevor Robinson (5.1 innings, 7 runs, 6 hits, 4 strikeouts, 5 walks). Other: Ace Baum.
Leading hitters: (Kenton) — 2 singles. (Defiance) — Bradyn Shaw 2 singles, double, 3 RBIs; Jacob Howard 2 singles, 3 runs.