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'We need everybody': Balanced Mogadore baseball beats Rootstown in Portage Trail Conference

Devin Graham takes a swing.
Devin Graham takes a swing.

ROOTSTOWN — It takes a village sometimes.

With ace Ronnie Skye out for the season, Mason Williams playing but still working his way back from a torn labrum and Bo Lanham unavailable on a frigid Tuesday afternoon at Rootstown Community Park, Mogadore found a way.

After going to the bullpen following the Rovers' three-run bottom of the first, the visiting Wildcats never needed another pitcher Tuesday as Cole Reese tossed six strong innings in relief in Tuesday's 10-4 victory.

"Throw it over the plate," Reese said of his approach. "Let them hit it. [Our fielders] know how to play."

And the Wildcats (5-6, 3-2 Portage Trail Conference), who have struggled to score at times this season, got contributions from the entire lineup Tuesday, with every single starter reaching base.

"Here's what we have, we don't have one or two kids that we kind of rely on," Mogadore coach Matt Dillon said. "We need everybody, one through nine, to hit the ball and move runners over and bunt."

The Wildcats did that Tuesday, racking up 10 runs without recording a single extra-base hit.

Meanwhile, per Dillon, the plan was always for Reese to be the first guy in from the bullpen Tuesday.

But Reese didn't know that.

And he certainly didn't expect to get into the game so soon.

All Reese did, however, was throw first-pitch strikes and refuse to get flustered, even when the Rovers got a number of baserunners against him. Reese ultimately allowed a single run on three hits and four walks over his six innings.

The Wildcats were no less resourceful at the plate, with nine of their 10 runs Tuesday coming with two outs.

Sometimes, it was a big-time liner, like Aaron Rumschlag's two-out go-ahead rip to left in the top of the fourth.

Sometimes, it was simply a matter of standing close to the plate and taking a hit-by-pitch for the team. (Mogadore had six Tuesday.)

Sometimes, it was a matter of hustling down to first base to beat out a dropped third strike.

Either way, Mogadore was resourceful and balanced.

"Part of our problem all year long has actually been scoring runs, especially with two outs," Dillon said. "We tend to get runners on base. We can't get them in. Today, we did a much better job of that."

Austin Constantine takes a swing.
Austin Constantine takes a swing.

The Wildcats' balance included sophomore Will Baskey battling back from a tough first inning on the mound to record a pair of singles, including one with two outs in the top of the sixth to extend the Wildcats' lead to 7-4.

"Cole and Will Baskey are very similar," Dillon said. "They're both sophomores. They both got experience last year. We count on them right now. It's just sometimes they're sophomores. We need them to play like juniors. Tonight, [Cole] pitched like a junior and Will hit like a junior and that's kind of what we need."

An inning later, Mogadore second baseman Tyler Pendergast landed another dagger as he chopped a single between third and short to bring in two more runs.

Joe Weaver takes a swing.
Joe Weaver takes a swing.

For the Rovers (6-6, 2-3), the Wildcats' two-out runs were one source of frustration. So were a few errors in the field. And so was failing to take advantage of bases-loaded opportunities at the plate in the fourth and fifth.

Both times, Reese was able to coerce an inning-ending ball in the air, with left fielder Chad Westfall racing to the line to catch the first one and third baseman Austin Constantine goiing into foul territory to catch the latter.

"We got off to a good start," Rovers coach Keith Waesch said. "The first half-hour of the game was a good half-hour for us and then the last hour and a half or so was about everything that we could do wrong went wrong and it was just a combination of a lot of things. Mental errors at times, the inability to throw strikes, obviously the inability to come up with clutch hits. We left the bases loaded twice. So it was a combination of things."

Logan Uphold makes the catch at first for the out.
Logan Uphold makes the catch at first for the out.

This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: Mogadore High School baseball uses balance to win at Rootstown