The sophomore and JV baseball teams kicked off the District 20-6A schedule as both teams took it on the chin against Ridge Point, with the sophomore team losing 15-2 and JV falling 9-2 at Cougar Field.
In the sophomore contest, Brandon Phegley retired the first three, and six of the first 10 Panthers he faced, but Ridge Point managed to scrape across two runs in the second inning. Offensively, Ty Cerny led off the game for the Cougs with a single to center, but was gunned down trying to steal second. Outside a hit-by-pitch in the third, that was the only runner for the home team through three innings.
A Ridge Point double and walk put two runners on in the top of the third before a nice catch by Cerny at the centerfield warning track got the first out. And despite a couple more free passes, Phegley caught a Panther batter looking for the second out and Kempner was primed to escape with limited damage. But a miscue by the Cougar defense allowed two runs to score. The inning ended – after Ridge Point upped their lead to six – with a nifty, sliding grab of a dying line drive by Cerny.
Drew Walker, Colton Green and Jace Curnan lashed consecutive base hits in the seventh, with Green and Curnan picking up RBIs to account for the Kempner scoring.
The JV squad sent Ross Reichardt to the mound and he responded with one of his best pitching efforts as a Coug. The southpaw found himself down a couple of runs early after a one-out, two-run homer to left field opened the scoring. But he quickly recovered to retired the next two hitters in rapid succession. Kempner saw Nick Spurlock reach on a dropped third strike and got a single from Reichardt in the bottom of the first, but both Cougars ended up stranded on the basepaths.
Reichardt kept the Cougs in the game as he faced the minimum over the next two innings, retiring five on flyballs and getting one strikeout in the process, upping his streak of outs to eight consecutive batters. In the fourth, Ridge Point managed to break through as their first two hitters reached base before Reichardt registered back-to-back strikeouts. But a two-out single – following what appeared to be a missed third strike call – drove home both Panther baserunners and the lead was 4-0.
Michael Davey opened the fourth inning by getting hit by a pitch for what seemed like the hundredth time already this season, which led to a Cougar run, cutting the deficit to three, but that was as close as Kempner would get. Davey also scored the other KHS tally following a walk in the sixth inning.
Both teams open district play at 0-1 and will look to square their record when they travel to Bush H.S. on March 14.