‘Knapp’ time in The Furnace


Green sophomore pitcher Jon Knapp

Paul Boggs | Daily Times

FRANKLIN FURNACE — Per David Shoupe, it’s a simple Green plan for cleaning up through the Southern Ohio Conference Division I baseball chase.

“Jon (Knapp) almost going the distance, Landon (Kimbler) coming in and throwing strikes…all you have to do is your pitchers throw strikes and play defense and put the ball in play,” said Shoupe, the fourth-year Bobcat coach. “It’s been our gameplan all year, and so far it’s been successful.”

In other words, it’s been —on many afternoons in Franklin Furnace like it was on Monday — “Knapp time”, with the Bobcat bats waking up in time to put runs on the scoreboard.

Against Ironton St. Joseph, in a key SOC I first-place contest at Dan McDavid Memorial Field, the six-foot and four-inch sophomore standout Jon Knapp nearly went the distance in striking out 11 Flyers — as Green garnered three third-inning runs, and tacked on single points in its final three at-bats during its important 6-2 triumph.

Knapp, at the time of his 124th and final pitch, had allowed just two Flyers basehits — but he hit Wesley Neal with a pitch to lead off the seventh, as his walks reached four and five as he loaded the bases with two outs.

At the time, the Bobcats boasted a seemingly-commanding 6-0 lead, but Landon Kimbler came on in relief of Knapp —and Evan Balestra promptly singled off him, scoring Neal and Landon Rowe for a 6-2 Flyers’ deficit.

With runners on second and third, the tying run reached the on-deck circle, but Kimbler struck out Carson Lyons to end the game.

Individually, and ideally, Shoup wanted Knapp to finish what he started —a dominating mound performance that raised the Bobcats’ record to 8-3, and to a perfect 5-0 and atop the SOC I.

Green is indeed halfway home to a division championship, as St. Joseph (7-3, 5-2 SOC I) and Notre Dame (5-2 SOC I) split their season series —and each trail the Bobcats by two games in the loss column.

The Bobcats defeated host Notre Dame 7-2 on April 8, and will host the Titans on Wednesday (April 24).

Knapp did his part to keep Green clean, and two games clear, in the SOC I.

He tossed a two-hit, 11-strikeout gem in six and two-thirds innings —as Balestra singled with one out in the fourth, followed by an infield hit by Jake Stephens in the fifth.

Until three consecutive Flyers batters reached base in the fifth, including his first two walks to load the bases, Knapp retired 10 in a row — and 14 out of 15 from innings one thru five.

Speaking of five, that many strikeouts came consecutive in innings one and two.

The only Flyers baserunners before the fifth were Rowe reaching on a Knapp throwing error and advancing to third on his only wild pitch to lead off the game, and Balestra’s single and steal of second base in the fourth.

With the bases loaded in the fifth, Knapp escaped the jam by inducing Mason Weber to ground into a 6-4 fielder’s choice.

Before loading the bases again in the seventh, he walked pitching counterpart Drew Brown with two outs in the sixth.

Shoupe so desperately wanted Knapp to finish, but quite simply, his pitch count and gas tank level wouldn’t allow for it.

“He was getting really close to his pitch limit, and we could have let him throw to another guy. We really wanted him to finish, but his pitch count was right there at the limit, and we still have a lot of season left. But he did really well today. He was on his game. Had 11 strikeouts. He was probably getting a little fatigued there late, but very proud of his performance today. He kept his composure really well,” said the coach. We were a little nervous early it looked like, but Jonathan helped us maintain time to get us in to start swinging the bats.”

Green senior Braxton Conschafsky

Paul Boggs | Daily Times

That Bobcat bat-swinging started in inning three.

Knapp in the first and Ace Thompson in the second drew two-out walks against St. Joseph starter and left-hander Carson Willis, but Mason Neal reached on the Flyers’ first of two errors in the game —and went to second on a passed ball.

From there, four straight singles by Kimbler, Knapp, Blake Smith and Quincy Merrill produced three runs —an unearned run by Neal and earned runs by Kimbler and Knapp.

Knapp, Smith and Merrill had runs batted in.

Green junior Blake Smith (15)

Paul Boggs | Daily Times

In the fourth, Braxton Conschafsky drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a groundout, and made it home on two Stephens wild pitches.

Similarly in the fifth, Merrill singled to center to lead off, stole second, went to third on a Brown wild pitch, and scored on another wild pitch.

“Being aggressive (running bases). I was always trying to maintain at least a four-run lead,” said Shoupe.

Finally in the sixth, Brannigan singled for the second time, stole second, and scored on Kimbler’s second single combined with a Flyer fielding error.

Green junior Landon Kimbler (11)

Paul Boggs | Daily Times

That made it 6-0, and Shoupe said he ultimately felt better with his Bobcats playing add-on.

“I was really pleased with our guys at the plate today. We tried to limit our strikeouts, put the ball in play and make them field the ball. We had the guys staggered throughout our lineup that we can do damage all the way through nine guys. We had some timely hits,” he said. “Anybody who knows baseball, hitting is contagious. We start getting guys to put balls in play. I would like to look back and see how many hits today we had with two strikes. I thought put the ball in play really well.”

Throwing strikes, playing defense, and putting the ball in play.

It’s the simple Green gameplan so far —like it was on Monday against the Flyers.

* * *

St. Joseph 000 000 2 — 2 3 2

Green 003 111 X — 6 8 2

SJHS: Carson Willis 2 1/3 IP, 3R, 2ER, 2H, 0HB, 2BB, 0IBB, 0WP, 1K, 12BF; Jake Stephens 1 2/3IP, 1R, 1ER, 3H, 0HB, 1BB, 1IBB, 3WP, 1K, 10BF; Drew Brown 2IP, 2R, 2ER, 3H, 0HB, 0BB, 0IBB, 3WP, 4K, 9BF

GHS: Jon Knapp 6 2/3IP, 2R, 2ER, 2H, 1HB, 5BB, 0IBB, 1WP, 11K, 29BF; Landon Kimbler 1/3IP, 0R, 0ER, 1H, 0HB, 0BB, 0IBB, 0WP, 1K, 2BF

W —Jon Knapp; L —Carson Willis

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on X @paulboggssports © 2024 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

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