BANGOR — It took the Holmes County, Ohio, all-stars a little bit to wake up Monday morning, but once they did, their bats awoke, too.
The U.S. Central champions pounded out 15 hits against four Palm Bay, Fla., pitchers while holding the U.S. Southeast representatives to five hits en route to a 12-2 Senior League World Series Pool B victory at Mansfield Stadium.
Manager Mike Yoder’s club opened its tournament run with the mercy-rule shortened victory while Florida is in a hole at 0-2, losing its second contest in less than 24 hours.
After being held in check the first two innings, Ohio scored all 12 of its runs in the final four frames, nine of them coming with two outs.
“I had a gut feeling it was going to take a little time for us to get going, but I also had a lot of confidence that we were going to hit the baseball,” Yoder said.
Palm Bay took a 1-0 lead in the first on Matt Rose’s RBI double to right, but that didn’t last very long.
With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the third, B.J. Miller hit a squib down the third-base line that appeared to be rolling toward foul territory, but Florida’s Cameron Howard tried to make the play, and his throw was late, allowing Miller to reach with an infield RBI single.
Grant Troyer, who combined with leadoff man Ryan Troyer to reach base nine times, gave Ohio the lead for good in the fourth with a two-run single to center.
Holmes County put the game out of reach with four more runs in the fifth and five more in the sixth.
“I think [with] the day off it kind of took us a little bit to get back into the swing of things, but once it did, we just took off,” Miller said.
Grant Troyer, one of five Ohio hitters with more than one hit, was one of three pitchers who limited Florida to five hits and two runs with Brad Schlaback going four innings to earn the victory.
Holmes County also played error-free defense.
“Coach, he always tells us to live in the strike zone, our defense is going to make the plays behind us,” said Troyer.
“It’s a big relief to the pitcher when there aren’t any errors.”
Palm Bay’s Rose was tagged with the pitching loss for the second time in as many days, as Holmes County had no problem catching up to his fastball.
“We try to tell our kids to stay aggressive in the zone, stay back on the fastballs and curveballs and adjust,” Yoder said. “I thought our kids adjusted well once we got through the lineup for the first time.”
Ryan Troyer set the tone from the leadoff hole with two singles, two runs, two walks and three stolen bases while Brandon Wengard had three hits and two runs on the day.
But perhaps lost in the shuffle amidst the offensive fireworks was the fact that none of Ohio’s pitchers worked into high counts — starter Schlaback threw only 45 pitches.
“The plan coming in was to [have him] throw 45 pitches, and the goal was to save him, give him a day of rest [Tuesday] and see where we’re at Day 3,” Yoder said.
Caleb Schlaback came off the bench and contributed a two-run single for the winners.
Palm Bay’s other run came in the fifth on Andrew Guzman’s single, his second base hit of the game. Florida’s other repeat hitter was Gardner Knight, who singled twice.
Central (1-0) 001 245 — 12 15 0
Southeast (0-2) 100 010 — 2 5 4
Schlaback, G. Troyer (5), Wengard (6) and Bunch; Rose, Romandetti (5), Howard (5), Cotton (6) and Tolle; WP-Schlaback (1-0); LP-Rose (0-2); Repeat hitters: R. Troyer (Cen), G. Troyer (Cen), Burch (Cen), Miller (Cen), Wengard (Cen), Guzman (SE), Knight (SE); Extra-base hits: 2B: Bunch (Cen); Rose (SE)