In the warmest weather of the season so far, the bats of the Comanche baseball team caught fire.
The Indians (3-4) turned in their best offensive performance of the year, knocking twelve hits and two homeruns in a 10-2 five-inning win against Empire at home .”We’re seeing the ball better and the bats are started to come around,” Comanche coach Nick Reed said. “Once you settle into the season and get some pitches under your belt, you start to play better baseball.”
Comanche has now won two straight, while the Bulldogs (3-5) have lost four of its last five.
“I keep saying, we’re so close to figuring it out and turning it into something special,” Bulldogs coach Caleb Cole. “We got to find some guys to step up and make a play when we need it. We need to win a couple more games to build confidence, and that will happen soon.”
Empire got off to a hot start of its own in the first, opening with back to back doubles from Braden Hill and Dillon Twigg to take a 1-0 lead. Facing a 1-2 count, Stephen Price built on that lead by bringing Twigg home on an RBI single.
It was the last run that Comanche pitcher Kale Reed would surrender.
Any questions about the Indians getting out of the early hole were answered in the next half inning. Tanner Hurst made it to first base on a fielder’s choice and Reed erased the defecit with one swing of the bat, blasting the team’s first homerun of the season to deep left field.
“I felt good about the homerun and got some momentum after that,” Kale Reed said. “I’ve just been trying to work on bat speed and getting out on the ball, keeping my weight back and coming throught the ball like I did on that homerun.”
Tyler Ward got on base with a pop fly single to left, and Hunter Rice follwed Reed’s lead with a two-run longball of his own to give Comanche a 4-2 lead.
From that point on, Reed stayed in complete control on the mound. The senior allowed no hits or runs and just two walks the rest of the game to pick up the win. He finished with 10 strikeouts.
“My curveball was working for me, but I always turn to my fastball,” Kale Reed said. “It’s still early in the season and when I go out I’m just trying to find my groove.”
In the second, Empire appeared to be on its way to a routine inning, starting the frame with a pair of quick outs.
Comanche had other ideas.
Senior Johnathon Robinson placed a two out double up the middle and Reed gave himself some breathing room with a bases clearing ground ball double between second and third base. At game’s end, Reed was 2-3 with five RBIs. Ward brought in Reed with a single and Rice gave Comanche a 9-2 lead when he scored Ward with a double to left field.
“I bet 95 percent of the runs against us this year have come with two outs and that opportunity to end the inning,” Cole said. “When you let up big innings like that, it’s hard to come back.”
The game’s final run came in the fourth when Hurst drove in Ward with a pop fly that dropped just fair down the left field line.
In the top of the fifth, Reed struck out Mace Robinson and Hill and shut the door by forcing Twigg to ground out to short.
Cole Bridges took the loss for Empire, allowing 10 earned runs and notching five strikeouts in four innings of work.
Comanche will look for its third straight win in a rematch against Davis today and Empire returns to action in the Apache Tournament on March 28.