Jacob Wilkinson is mobbed at the plate after his leadoff home run.
(Photo by Michael Clifton / www.kombatkamera.com)
The Whitewater Wildcats finished the regular season off with a flourish, beating Starr's Mill 12-0.
The score might be a bit deceiving as both teams started bringing in younger players once the Wildcats staked themselves to an early lead, but it's still an important win for Whitewater. Even with the region title already wrapped up and both teams locked into their playoff seedings, a Whitewater-Starr's Mill game is always important.
"It's a game that really had no implications, but it's got in between the kids type implications," said Whitewater coach Rusty Bennett. "We'd already won the region, but to come out swinging like that, we needed to get in a little rhythm."
The win was key for Whitewater as they look to make another deep run into the state tournament.
"When you get to this point, it's not really about polishing, it's just staying ready," said Bennett. "It's big to get a little confidence going into the playoffs. We're going to draw a tough team and we need to be ready to go."
Winning a region crown was also extra special for Bennett, who got the title in his first season at the helm.
"You know the tradition around here. They win. Coming in as a first year coach and getting a region championship, it feels read good," Bennett said. "Hats off to our kids. They're a phenomenal bunch. Yeah I'm the coach, but I didn't do much. Those kids played and they get all the credit."
Whitewater got their offense clicking from the very start. Leading off the bottom of the first, Jacob Wilkinson launched the ball over the wall in left-centerfield for a solo home run and a quick 1-0 lead.
The Cats would come back for more in the third inning. Wilkinson and Brandon Bell walks bookending a Tyler Doanes hit by pitch would chase the Starr's Mill starter with no outs in the frame. Nick Fuerstenau made his at bat count as he roped a bases clearing double to make it a 4-0 game.
The fourth inning was even more fruitful as the Cats racked up eight runs. Justin Trammell got it started with a leadoff single then was joined on base by Wilkinson with an infield hit. Nick Fink stepped up with an RBI double to plate Trammell. Bell drove in the next run with an RBI single, followed by Fuerstenau with an RBI double. Taylor Turner then drove in two on a double. Jabari Richards finished it off with a flourish, crushing a three run home run over the rightfield wall for a 12-0 lead.
Jake Lee got the start for Whitewater and was dominant. Lee pitched four scoreless innings, slowing just three hits and striking out four. Jonathan Hendershot and Chandler Raiden pitched the fifth to lock down the early finish.
Whitewater will open the state tournament as a one seed and host Lakeside, Evans in a best of three series starting with Friday's doubleheader.
Starr's Mill will be a two seed and host Evans in their own series, also starting on Friday with a doubleheader.