Galion starting pitcher, Garrett Kuns pitched the Tigers to their first win of the young baseball season against Mid Ohio Athletic Conference Red Division foe River Valley.
Kuns went the distance in Galion’s 9-3 win, tossing 87 pitches and allowing six hits and one walk, with eight strikeouts over seven innings.
Tyler Castline led the Galion offensive barrage with two hits, two runs scored and four RBI, all of which came on a sixth inning grand slam. Matt Hardy and Mac Spears also had two hits in the game.
“With the State’s (Ohio) practice rules in place, both hitting and pitching are in mid-season form early in the season, but I’d have to say that our pitching is coming around a little quicker than our hitting,” said Galion head coach Phil Jackson. “These guys have been working all winter, they’re well over 100 pitches in some bullpens since mid-winter.”
Galion opened the scoring in the top of the first inning. With a stiff, steady breeze blowing out Castline launched a high fly ball to deep left field that landed near the base of the fence. The speedy Castline legged out a lead-off triple. Following a passed ball, Galion was up 1-0.
The deep backstop behind home plate, similar to Galion’s home field, allowed the Tigers to use their skill on the bases to their advantage.
“We’re trying to move up runners anyway we can, we’ll utilize passed balls and we won’t take two bases unless we need to,” Jackson said.
The Tigers added a second run in the top of the fourth inning on Spear’s two-out RBI single down the third base line. Hardy, who led the inning off with a bloop single to centerfield, scored from second base.
Galion blew the game wide open in the sixth inning. The Tigers sent nine batters to the plate and scored six runs, highlighted by an error aided inside the park home run off the bat of Hardy and Castline’s grand slam.
Hardy led the inning off with a double to deep leftfield; the left fielder fumbled the ball allowing Hardy to take third. On the throw to the infield the ball skidded past the third baseman, pitcher and catcher, allowing Hardy to score.
Mitchell Dyer doubled to left and advance to third on Devin Baughn’s slow roller to the mound, which forced a bad throw from left handed relief pitcher Bryant Wells. Dyer scored on Spear’s sacrifice bunt.
A dropped fly ball by the Viking’s center fielder set the stage for Castline’s home run.
With the Tigers in command 8-0, Kuns was left to finish the task.
The right hander showed some signs of wear in the bottom of the sixth. Following a leadoff strikeout, Kuns allowed four consecutive singles and a pair of runs, prompting a visit from Jackson.
Following the visit, Kuns retired the next two batters and kept the Tigers in the lead, 8-2.
“I re-focused him on the fact that he’s got a really good defense behind him,” Jackson said. “I was settling everybody down, the only thing that can beat us is free passes, I said.”
Kuns has to rely on his teammates, “if he tries to do too much on his own and starts forcing pitches he gets in trouble,” he added. “If he (Kuns) gives up lead-off walks he’s not as effective as a pitcher. When he’s using his off-speed stuff he’s lights out.”
Galion scored its final run in the top of the seventh inning using base running to its advantage.
Hardy again led off with a single, stole second, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a fielder’s choice.
“We like to bunt and we like to run,” Jackson said. “Those things put a lot of pressure on them (River Valley) and caused us to win.”
Kuns finished the seventh for the win. Bryon Doubikin took the loss for the Vikings.
Galion returns home today for a game with Colonel Crawford.
Connect with Tanchevski on Twitter at @mtan62.
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