OAK HILL — First, and unfortunately for the West Senators, their bus arrival was late into Oak Hill on Monday.
But, their offense — against Oak Hill pitcher Nate Clutters —apparently didn’t travel with them.
That’s because the Oaks’ ace Clutters kept the visiting Senators off the basepaths, and almost off the scoreboard altogether, as Oak Hill hammered out 15 hits —including at least one in every inning —en route to a 10-1 rolling of West in a Southern Ohio Conference Division II baseball bout.
That’s correct, the Oaks ‘Clutters’ up the Senators —scoring three second-stanza runs on three hits, erupting for five more markers on four more hits in the third, and finally tacking two more on in the fifth from a hat batsmen followed by three consecutive singles.
Meanwhile, Clutters pitched a perfect opening three frames, followed by retiring the Senators 1-2-3 in the seventh in going the distance.
West gained its only run in the fourth —when Trevor Fike broke up the perfect game with a single to center, followed by going to second on a wild pitch and scoring on a Tucker Spriggs single combined with the Oaks’ only error of the day.
The run was indeed unearned, as Clutters’ only other runners allowed were a Reese Coleman one-out walk in the fifth —followed by Fike singling again in the sixth, and Spriggs being hit by a pitch.
In between, Clutters picked off Fike at first —meaning he stranded two Senators for the entire game, after getting Jacob Davis to ground into a 4-3 inning-ending double play in the fourth.
Clutters also struck out six, and didn’t pitch under much duress —leading the Oaks’ (3-2, 2-1 SOC II) way for their third win of the season in five tries.
Coleman had reached third on a stolen base and wild pitch respectively, but Clutters K’d the final two Senators to stymie West to one run.
“We needed that from Nate. And to be honest, he had been struggling a little bit coming into tonight. Just hadn’t been able to get into a rhythm yet. This cold weather has been tough on every pitcher. But the weather was a little bit better today, and he got into a zone there,” said OHHS coach Jason Wright. “He got confidence as the game went on and it was good to see him up there pitching with confidence.”
With Clutters in clear control, the Oaks offered him plenty of run support —in the form of an 8-0 advantage after three frames, followed by the 10-1 cushion following five.
All 10 tallies for the Oaks were earned off two Senator pitchers —Davis for the opening two innings and Fike for the closing cantos.
With one out in the second, the Oaks’ only seniors teamed up to give the hosts a 1-0 edge —when Isaiah Needham singled and stole second, and Dylan Venegas singled Needham home on a hard-hit ball which glove-grazed West second baseman Cole Windsor.
Davis then hit Eddie Abele with a pitch, setting up nine-hole hitter Andy Meldick mashing a two-out single to right — which crossed Venegas and Abele.
So seven batters went to the plate in the Oaks’ second, only to be outdone by the nine against Fike in the third.
And again, West had recorded outs when the bottom of the Oak Hill lineup did its offensive damage.
With one away, Clutters and Aidan Hall had back-to-back singles to left —followed by free passes to Needham (hit by pitch) and Abele (walk), sandwiched around a Fike strikeout.
Clutters crossed home on the walk to Abele for the 4-0 lead.
But eight-hole hitter Layne Swingle smacked a double to the gap in left, unloading the bases and bringing in Hall, Needham and Abele.
Meldick then made it 8-0 —singling to center to score Swingle.
In the fifth, Swingle was then hit by a pitch —followed up by three consecutive singles from Meldick, Gavin Howell and Rylan Sams.
Sams’ safety to center was a two-run single —plating both Swingle and Meldick and making it 10-0.
While Meldick muscled for a 3-for-4 day at the plate, Howell, Clutters, Hall and Venegas all went 2-for-4 — and Needham notching 2-for-2.
In truth, the Oaks mixed up their hits with some shots with some shallow gappers and droppers —which West’s outfield could not track down.
“The bottom of our lineup did a lot of damage for us today. That was big. Andy (Meldick) had three hits and Layne Swingle came up with that three-run double in the third. That’s what we need and we’re trying to figure out,” said Wright. “We need guys one thru nine to all swing the bats. The good thing is we’re only going to get better. Because with only two seniors, we’re young.”
That the Oaks are —as Monday’s matchup was important for both clubs keeping within striking distance of league leaders Valley, Wheelersburg and Minford.
West was right there as well, but fell to 5-2 — and to 2-2 in the division with the loss at Oak Hill.
“West got a lot of games in last week and won most of those, so this was a good challenge for us,” said Wright. “But then again, there are no letdowns in this league. Every game in our league is a challenge. As soon as you let your guard down, then some team comes along and smacks you in the face.”
Unfortunately for the young Senators on Monday, that was probably how they felt.
* * *
West 000 100 0 — 1 3 2
Oak Hill 035 020 X —10 15 1
PWHS: Jacob Davis 2IP, 3R, 3ER, 4H, 1HB, 0BB, 1K, 10BF; Trevor Fike 4IP, 7R, 7ER, 11H, 2HB, 3BB, 2K, 26BF
OHHS: Nate Clutters 7IP, 1R, 0ER, 3H, 1HB, 1BB, 6K, 24BF
W —Nate Clutters; L — Jacob Davis
PWHS hitting: Trevor Fike 2-3 RS, Tucker Spriggs 1-2 HBP, Reece Coleman BB SB
OHHS hitting: Gavin Howell 2-4; Rylan Sams 1-3 2RBI; Nick Clutters 2-4 RS; Aidan Hall 2-4 RS; Isaiah Needham 2-2 2RS HBP BB SB; Dylan Venegas 2-4 RBI RS; Eddie Abele RBI 2RS HBP 2BB; Layne Swingle 1-3 D 3RBI 2RS HBP: Andy Meldick 3-4 3RBI RS
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved