By Travis Smola
Vicksburg varsity baseball picked up their first two key wins on the road against Paw Paw, giving up a single run in the doubleheader.
The Bulldogs won the first game handily, 10-1, then dealt a shutout in the second, 6-0. The team had had some early struggles in the season against tough teams like Portage Central and Mattawan, but it was the first conference game against Paw Paw that Head Coach Brian Deal had been looking forward to playing.
“We’ve played some non-conference games against some really quality opponents,” Deal said. “And we’ve had some tough go on those games, but it’s all been kind of building up for this opening night of conference play.”
Senior pitchers Parker Wilson and Brendan Monroe both put on a clinic in the games. Wilson had 13 strikeouts in the first game and Monroe had nine in the second game. Both pitchers helped bail their team out of situations where the Red Wolves had runners in scoring position.
“Those two are veterans for us and they did a great job coming into the zone,” Deal said. “It kept the pressure off of our defense, and then, when we did need to make a play, we did make one behind them, so just having those guys who can pound the zone like that, that’s going to be a huge help for us.”
In the second game, Monroe also started off the hits with a single. Vicksburg took a 1-0 lead after they loaded the bases. A high pitch allowed Jacob Conklin to run home. In the top of the second, Zach Myers started things off with a single before Monroe hit a monster triple to far right field that just barely failed to clear the fence. That brought Myers home to make it 2-0.
Conklin brought Monroe home to make it 3-0 immediately after that with a single. Conklin also managed to steal third on that series but got stranded at third.
The score remained 3-0 until the top of the fifth, which ended up being the final inning due to light fading. Paw Paw walked Dylan Zemitans and Myers to start things off. Zemitans scored off a Cole Gebben single and Myers scored off another single from Monroe to make it 5-0.
Conklin was the next batter and was hit by a pitch to load them up. The Red Wolves gave the Bulldogs a freebie when they walked Wilson to make it 6-0.
After last season was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Deal praised his younger players with limited baseball experience for their performance, though he noted that the biggest challenge so far is that the strength of their opponents is mostly unknown.
“It’s interesting because you have no idea of what the other teams are going to be like in the conference because you didn’t see them play last year,” Deal said, “So, now every time we go out against a conference team, we’re just hoping to play the best we can possibly play because we don’t know what their teams have or what they’re going to throw at us.”
By Travis Smola