By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Jerry Kearney earned his first win, then helped assure it, striking out nine in five innings on the mound and batting in an insurance run as Enid won its home baseball opener against Putnam City, 8-2, Thursday at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.
“It was a lot different from last week (in Fort Smith, Ark.) playing in that cold,” said Kearney, who walked four and allowed just one hit in the win. “I hadn’t thrown in a while, so I felt pretty good.”
Enid cracked the scoreboard in its first trip to the plate when Jake Walker slapped a 2-0 pitch into the gap in left center to score Cole Floyd from third, but was gunned down trying for second.
Putnam City evened the score in the top of the second when Enid’s error woes made their first appearance. Dakota Dugger reached on base for the Pirates when Walker couldn’t handle a ball hit to shortstop.
“Maybe it’s an error in the book, but that skewed ball, when it bites like a pitching wedge, that’s a tough play,” said Enid coach Bill Mayberry.
Kearney (1-1) almost neutralized the slip-up in the next at-bat, when he had Connor Parsells hung up between first and second on a pickoff play, but first-baseman Zeke Sarver tried to catch Parsells at home and sailed the throw to catcher Jackson Walker, who made the catch, but was too far off the plate to apply the tag to Parsells.
Putnam City (2-2) took a 2-1 lead an inning later when Ryan Wood, who reached on the Plainsmen’s third and final error, scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the frame.
Enid evened the game in the bottom half when Cole Floyd scored Christian Voitik on a full-count sacrifice fly, but Kearney was in trouble again in the fourth after Ryan Keller broke up his no-hitter to open the frame and leadoff hitter Tyler Dedmon took the plate with runners at first and second and two outs. But Kearney, a mid-80s fastball thrower who was throwing nearly 90 on Thursday, struck Dedmon out on a high heater to retire the side.
“My fastball was on,” Kearney said. “I threw him a curveball down and away (on the previous pitch), and he wasn’t expecting a fastball on the next pitch, and I guess it just got him.”
“He normally pitches about 85, and he was above that tonight,” Mayberry said. “His fastball, it has movement on it. You can tell because Jackson Walker, who’s a really good catcher, has a little trouble with it sometimes, because the ball jumps around. It’s just moving. It looked really good.”
Shaun Spring walked to start the fifth, and Kearney doubled — the game's only extra-base hit — to put runners at second and third for Hunter Childs, who reached on an error that scored Spring and Kearney, giving Enid a 4-2 lead they wouldn't surrender.
Kearney struck out three straight in the top of the fifth and batted in the first of three insurance runs in the bottom on a check-swing single that scored Jake Walker. Sam Clemens took Kearney’s place on the base path to end the senior’s night, stealing a base and scoring on Voitik’s near-home-run sacrifice to give Enid an 8-2 lead.
Voitik pitched 12⁄3 innings, striking out one and walking two, and Floyd earned the save on one pitch, a 1-3 groundout by Putnam City’s Crash Davis, to end the game.
Kearney and Jake Walker each went two-for-three with an RBI apiece. Childs finished with a walk, two steals, two runs and an RBI and Shaun Spring scored two runs.
Pierce Love, who came in relief for Putnam City starter Sam Adams, took the loss after giving up six runs, five earned, on four hits and three walks.
Enid (2-3) hosts Jenks, which eliminated the Plainsmen one game short of the state tournament last season, at 6 p.m. tonight. The game can be heard on KXLS Radio (95.7 FM).