Kirsch stymies Tigers in series opener

Apr. 30—LEBANON — For the past four seasons, North Montgomery's Jarrod Kirsch has proven himself to be one of the top pitchers in the Sagamore Conference.

On Tuesday night at Lebanon's Memorial Park, he showed that once again, limiting the host Tigers to just three hits as the Chargers took game one of the Sagamore Conference series 8-0.

"He's a very good pitcher," Lebanon head coach Rick Cosgray said. "We did our best to come out and try to get to him early in the count. We moved the ball, but not with authority."

Kirsch needed just 72 pitches to get the complete game, and lowered his ERA to 0.76 on the year.

He didn't get his fourth-straight double-digit strike out performance, but struck out eight in the game.

Kirsch allowed three singles in the game — to Riley Smith in the third, Bryce Nelson in the fourth and Jack Ferrell in the seventh.

"I love the kid and I think he may be the best pitcher in our conference," North Montgomery head coach Matt Voorhees said. "Pretty much every game he goes out, he knows what he's going to do and makes the adjustments he needs. Having eight seniors and the maturity on the field, and them having played together for so long, he trusts them and knows they will make plays behind him."

Lebanon's best chance to score came in the fourth inning when they trailed 1-0.

Nelson led off the inning with a single, then stole second with one out. He advanced to third on a balk, but Kirsch got a strikeout and a pop out to get out of the mini jam.

"The bottom is, we practice those situations and our kids know what to do, but we have to step up in that moment and get it done," Cosgray said. "We've been better at that recently, but it goes back to Kirsch is a good pitcher, he made good pitches in those spots and was able to keep us off the board."

The Chargers offense tacked on insurance in the later innings.

Ross Dyson hit an RBI-double to make it 2-0 in the fifth, before an RBI-double from Isaiah Hopkins, an error and a 2-run single from Kirsch made it 6-0 in the sixth.

A passed ball and an RBI-single from Roman Utterback capped the scoring in the seventh.

Wesley Byrd pitched well for the Tigers, pitching 5.1 innings and striking out six.

"He's been phenomenal for us and pitched extremely well," Cosgray said. "He just goes out and does the basics and does the little things you need to do to be successful. I'm proud of his effort, especially the first five innings where he held them in check pretty well."

Lebanon is now 7-8 and 3-5 in the Sagamore Conference.

North Montgomery improved 11-3 and 5-3 in the conference.

The two teams meet again at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at North Montgomery.

"Offensively we need to keep the same approach in terms of being aggressive, but turn that into base hits," Cosgray said. "We've been better recently of being sound defensively and we have to make the routine play to give ourselves a chance. Corbin Wells is down for at least a week, so we have to change up our pitching rotation a little bit. It has to be a next man up mentality and going out and competing as hard as you can."

Wells, who has been the Tigers ace the last two years, injured his ankle last Friday.

Voorhees said he wishes the Tiger left-hander a speedy recovery.

"My prayers go out to Wells," Voorhees said. "They have be bit with some key injuries the last few years with some great players. Wells is one of the best pitchers in our conference and you want to play teams and kids like that, because that's what prepares you for the tournament. He's a phenomenal player and hopefully he heals quickly. Lebanon is a great team and I have the utmost respect for coach Cosgray and their program."

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.