Follow a long stretch of inclimate weather, the sophomore baseball team finally managed to get on the field for a doubleheader on March 5, winning the first game before dropping the second half of the twin-bill.
The Cougars pounced all over Katy Paetow, 11-0, in the opener before falling to host FB Austin, 10-3, in the finale.
These two games, along with a lopsided loss to Seven Lakes the previous weekend, are the only three official games that the team has managed to get in this spring – with foul weather scrapping 10 games from the schedule thus far. The team did participate in three pre-season controlled scrimmages back in early- to mid-February.
In the initial inning of the first contest, sophomore southpaw Brandon Phegley (photo) dispatched the Panthers almost as briskly as the north wind that chilled spectators, needing only nine pitches to sandwich two strikeouts around a lazy pop fly to the shortstop. In the bottom half of the frame, Ty Cerny drilled the first pitch he saw for a leadoff single and later came home to score on a single by the cleanup hitter, Brandon Garcia. That tally ended up as the only run the Cougs would need.
Kempner managed to work around a couple of baserunners in the second inning as the Cougar defense made amends for an earlier error by turning a nifty 4-3-2 double-play to record the first two outs of the inning and cut down a runner at the plate. Phegley recorded his third strikeout of the night to strand the remaining baserunner in scoring position.
The Cougs broke things open in the bottom half of the second as five of the first six hitters all reached safely on the way to sending 12 men to bat. Jace Curnan, Phegley, Kevin Gutierrez, Nathan Jacobson, Cerny, Max Lopez, and Garcia all touched home plate in the second, giving KHS a comfortable margin of 7-0.
Following a one-out walk to start the third, Paetow managed their only hit of the night – a ground ball back up the middle that also was the only ball that the Panthers hit that reached the outfield grass. But a simple groundout to second followed by a soft pop to the first baseman kept the scoresheet blank for the visitors.
In the bottom half of what would end up as the final inning, Lopez got things started with a two-out double and Luke Geach, Garcia, and Colton Green followed with back-to-back-to-back singles. All four batters would eventually score in the inning, pushing the final margin to 11.
Unfortunately, as the already chilly temperatures continued to cool off, the Cougar bats did the same in the second game. Adding insult to injury (quite literally) was that the Cougs were without backstop and cleanup hitter Brandon Garcia, who left the first game with an ankle injury during a stolen base. That removed one of the offensive threats from the batting order (Garcia was 2-for-2 with a walk in the first game) and altered some of the defensive lineup as well.
Cerny again led off the game with a base knock and was followed by a walk to Lopez. But what looked like a promising start quickly flamed out as Cerny was cut down on a stolen base attempt, followed by outs by Geach and Green.
The Bulldogs batted around in their half of the first, turning three hits, two walks and an error into four runs. Cerny, who got the nod on the mound for the Cougars, did his best to limit the damage by leaving a couple of runners on base when the inning was over.
Curnan reached on an error by the Austin third-baseman to start off the second inning and came around to score. But no other KHS hitters managed to reach base, so the Cougs were limited to just the single run. A series of errors and passed balls allowed the Bulldogs to tack on three more runs before Cerny stopped the bleeding with a strikeout to end the inning.
Kempner cut into that lead in the third as Cerny – who was retired only once in six plate appearances during the two games – doubled and scored one of the two runs that inning. But the Cougars could have had more as they left the maximum stranded when the inning ended. Austin tacked on a handful more runs in their final two at-bats against Cougar hurlers Jacobson and Geach, while the Cougs failed to score. The final in the time-shortened ballgame was 10-3.
The split of the two games leaves Kempner’s record at 1-2. Their next game will be Saturday, March 9, when they travel to Rice Consolidated to tangle with the Raiders. First pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m. The first chance to catch the Cougs at their home ballpark will be Monday, March 11, when they will host the Ridge Point Panthers at 4:30 p.m to open district play.