The Owens Wealth Advisors Junior Reds took until the fourth inning to find their offense but heated up the bats late and used a solid start by Cooper Tessendorf to improve to 4-0 with a 9-1 win at Wisner-Pilger/Howells-Dodge on Monday night.
The Reds plated one in the second, added three more in the fourth then exploded for five in the seventh. Tessendorf, making his first start of the season, went 3 and 2/3 without allowing a hit, walking one and striking out five.
He was just as valuable at the plate, going 2 for 4 with two runs driven in on two doubles. The Juniors had three players with multiple hit performances and two, including Tessendorf, that drove in two runs. The Reds had 11 hits overall, 10 of which came during the fourth inning or later. Six of those hits went for extra bases.
Eli Osten blasted the team's first home run of the season, posting the first run of the game in the second.
Outside of Osten's bomb to left center leading off the second, the best the Reds could do for the first three innings was take two free passes. They went down in order in the first, drew a walk after Osten's homer in the second but then were caught stealing and retired in order and took a one-out walk in the third but then left the runner stranded with two fly balls.
Coach Travis Tessendorf said the slow start hitting had to do with facing two hard throwers from Battle Creek on Friday. WPHD's pitchers didn't have the same kind of velocity and required different timing at the plate.
"The wind was blowing out, so the ball was really soft coming in. Our better hitters struggled at first, we flew out a couple of times and then Eli got a hold of one up in the jet stream, hit a bomb and that got us going there," Tessendorf said. "Once we got into the later innings, we got runners on base and started getting some big hits."
Kolby Blaser kick started the offense in the third with a leadoff double, stolen base and scored on Osten's triple. Krae Lavicky brought Osten home on a single then himself scored when he stole home three hitters later.
Up 4-0 with one inning to play, the Juniors batted around in the seventh with the five runs, five hits and a walk. Tessendorf pushed two across on a hit through the right side, Blaser picked up an RBI in the next at bat on an infield hit, Tessendorf eventually scored on a passed ball and Blaser came around on Lavicky's ground out to second.
WPHD had two hits in the bottom half, including a double, and scored its lone run. It was the only inning in which the hosts had more than one hit.
Tessendorf allowed a one-out single in the first but then retired nine in a row until a one-out walk in the fourth.
His pitch count limit was 45 in order to save his arm for a game Wednesday at Arlington. The Sjuts brothers are out for the week and Jordan Kracl was golfing at an event in Oakland leaving a pitching shortage for the week.
Kracl will be back Wednesday, but coach Tessendorf wanted to be prepared should he have to call on his son again.
But while Cooper's pitch count was limited, he made the most of his start, getting through nearly four innings with 43 total pitches.
"That's pretty efficient. He threw strikes, and when he's on, he's overpowering," coach Tessendorf said. "He could pretty much throw it by them."
Osten finished the fourth and started the fifth. He struck out one then left following three walks. Blaser came on and ended the threat with a three-pitch strikeout and a roller to first.
"We flew out a lot early. After the first inning we were telling guys not to swing at the first pitch, not to swing until they throw a strike," coach Tessendorf said. "I had the take sign on a lot of them, got the pitch count up on their pitcher and that's when the ball started to come down and we started making better contact. We just had to change our philosophy a little bit."
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.
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