High school baseball in April is never quite as sharp as it becomes in late May and early June. Teams mature, pitchers and hitters blossom and the stakes rise with the temperature.
So it's safe to say Class 4A No. 3 Carroll's 4-2 win over No. 4 Northrop on Monday at Carroll was more like a “Coming Attractions” trailer at the movies. It was a glimpse of what's ahead, with some terrific May-like weather thrown in the mix for more preview flavor.
“It's not a big game,” Carroll coach Dave Ginder said. “It's a good game, in April. Whether we won or got beat, it'll be irrelevant come June. They're a good team. They'll be there at the end of the year. There will be a lot of stuff between now and then that they'll go through, and we'll go through. It was a beautiful night. A good game, and just what our kids needed. It was a good win.”
Carroll kept its record unblemished at 9-0 while Northrop (8-1) took its first loss. The difference between the two teams came down to a few clutch Carroll hits and a couple of Northrop mental mistakes. On another day, the roles might have been reversed.
Neither team used its ace pitcher (Carroll's No.1 is Riley Perlich and Northrop's is Garrett Schoenle), but Carroll's Jake Pease and Northrop's Ben Yoss showed the strength and depth of the teams' staffs with a pair of strong performances.
Pease allowed only four hits and one earned run in six innings while striking out five. Yoss allowed eight hits, but struck out six and allowed only two earned runs.
“They're good, we feel we're good,” Northrop coach Matt Brumbaugh said. “We didn't make the right mental plays a couple times and it cost us. Base running, a couple defensive plays, and you get beat 4-2 because of that.”
Northrop scored first after Yoss led off the second with a single and pinch runner Gavin Schoenle went to third on a Ben Keating single. Schoenle scored when a throw to the plate bounced off Carroll catcher Hayden Jones' glove.
Jones wasted no time making up for the rare error, hitting a single in the bottom of the third to drive in Nathan Fish and Langston Ginder and put Carroll up 2-1.
Carroll extended its lead to 4-1 when a two-out double by Ginder drove in Joe Henschel and Blake Castetter. Ginder, Carroll's leadoff hitter, was 3-for-4 with two doubles. Jones and Castetter had two hits apiece.
“It's always a good win to play good competition here in April,” Langston Ginder said. “It's good to see Jake compete and be tough in the sixth inning.”
Pease hit two batters in the sixth, and Yoss' sacrifice fly drove in Zach Piatt to cut the Carroll lead to 4-2. But Pease finished off the inning with a strikeout. Jones picked up the save in the seventh.
“It's awesome beating an undefeated team, especially of their caliber,” Pease said.
Pease is one of eight seniors on the Chargers, but six starters are juniors. The juniors, such as Jones, Ginder and Perlich, have a lot of game experience.
“This team is very special and has a chance to be very great,” Pease said. “But we can't get ahead of ourselves. We're off to a good start, but there are a lot of games to play. This game right now, honestly, will mean nothing at the end of the year. But it's nice to win.”