While going 0-3 last week, the Worthington Kilbourne High School baseball team continued its season-long pattern of falling behind early and rallying to make a game close, only to come up short in the end.
The Wolves, who carried a six-game losing streak into this week, fell behind Hilliard Bradley 2-0 in the top of the first inning and trailed 4-2 in the second en route to losing 5-3 in the OCC-Cardinal Division game April 22.
Kilbourne fell behind Dublin Jerome 5-0 in the top of the second inning in a league game April 26 on the way to an 8-2 loss and trailed St. Charles 3-0 in the top of the third and went on to lose 6-5 in 14 innings April 27.
"Our biggest issue has been falling behind in the first three innings," coach Jeff Boulware said. "We keep putting ourselves in a hole early and then playing well to make the game competitive, but usually those holes have been too deep to climb all the way back out of. It's nice to see that our team never gives up, but the challenge is learning to play better early in games to give ourselves a better chance to win."
Kilbourne was scheduled to play six games this week. It will play host to Westland on Thursday, May 2, and Westerville North on Friday, May 3, in a league game before playing Saturday, May 4, at Thomas Worthington.
During the game against Thomas, the Wolves and Cardinals will be raising money for the Healthy Worthington Resource Center and Food Pantry.
"This is a big week to try to win games and create momentum and confidence for our guys as the regular season draws to a close," Boulware said. "We really want to win on our senior night (against Westland) and the Thomas game is important when it comes to community bragging rights.
"The Worthington Food Pantry supports about 400 families in the Worthington area and it's nice that we can combine with Thomas to do something good for our communities and its families."
Among the Wolves' offensive leaders through 15 games were baseman Brian Sommers (.375 batting average, 6 RBI, 6 runs), center fielder Dominic Brown (.333, 4 RBI, 10 runs), right fielder Ben Lawson (.294) and shortstop Hayden Shenefield (.275, 9 RBI, 8 runs). On the mound, Sommers was 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA.
"We're struggling to put seven-inning games together," Boulware said. "When we have a good hitting day, we struggle in the field. When we have a good defensive day, we don't hit very well.
"I have been impressed with how much we've improved defensively, but our hitting has been mostly disappointing and our pitching is giving out too many free passes. We're making strides."
Pitching continues to shine for Cardinals
Thomas continued to get solid pitching while going 9-1 the past two weeks and winning 16 of its first 19 games.
Through 19 games, Cardinals pitchers had tossed 10 complete games and thrown nine shutouts. Roscoe Blackburn was 5-0 with a save and Nick Pauley and Sam Ankrom were 5-1 and 4-1, respectively.
In a 1-0 win over Marysville in an OCC-Central game April 22, Blackburn threw a six-hitter with nine strikeouts. Pauley threw a no-hitter and hit a grand slam in a 13-0, five-inning win over Central Crossing in a league game April 26 and Ankrom (5 2/3 innings) and Blackburn (1 1/3 innings) combined on a four-hitter in a 2-0 win over Brunswick on April 27.
"Our pitching has been our biggest asset," coach Stephen Gussler said. "Roscoe, Sam and Nick have been outstanding."
Among the Cardinals' offensive leaders through 19 games were shortstop Ben Miller (.464, 24 RBI), left fielder Emerson Keppler (.386, 19 runs, 4 triples) and catcher Jace Komminsk (2 home runs, 15 RBI).
Still, Gussler would like the Cardinals to be more consistent at the plate after watching them strand 12 baserunners in a 5-2 loss to Westerville North on April 27.
"We need to do a better job of moving the baseball, especially against good pitchers," he said. "We need a little more timely hitting."
The Cardinals will play host to Hilliard Davidson in a league game Friday, May 3, before facing Kilbourne the next day.
"Hilliard Davidson's a contender in the OCC, so that's a big game that we need to win," Gussler said. "Kilbourne isn't a league game, but our kids may rank that game higher than some of our league games because of our rivalry. We're trying to collect funds and food for the Worthington Food Pantry. Our lacrosse team collected 400 pounds of food, so we're going to try to beat that."