Davenport North pitcher Blake Gaskey threw a gem for the Wildcats in the first game but Davenport Assumption struck for a big inning in Game 2 to help the Knights earn a split of their Mississippi Athletic Conference doubleheader.
Gaskey struck out 12 and allowed only three hits as the host Wildcats took the opener 1-0 at Ken Kaul Field on Wednesday night. Assumption trailed 4-0 going into the fifth inning of the nightcap but put up eight runs in the frame and eventually grabbed the contest, 10-7.
The Wildcats could not take advantage of 11 walks issued by Assumption in the opener and left the bases loaded twice with less than two outs. But Gaskey picked up his teammates by keeping the ball down in the zone, preventing the Knights (8-6 overall, 3-1 MAC) from making solid contact.
“He’s capable of doing that every time out,” Wildcats coach Cory Wachal said of Gaskey’s performance. “He pounds the zone and really picks his pitches, and when he does that, he is tough to hit.”
Gaskey got some help from his catcher, Milo Kelley, who just finished the eighth grade. Kelley helped frame a lot of the low pitches in the strike zone as Gaskey got looking strikeouts four times. Kelley was also responsible for the lone run in the first game when his squeeze bunt in the fifth inning allowed Clayton Spratt to score.
“We are really excited about the future with Milo, and he catches Blake really well,” Wachal said. “Blake is a tough guy to catch but Milo did a great job. When (Milo) showed up, we knew he was a good player and it was pretty obvious early on he had some baseball skills. We brought him up just to see if he could compete and he has proven that.”
The Wildcats appeared to be in a good position to possibly turn in the sweep as the hosts got out to a 4-0 lead in the second game by the end of the fourth inning. Jaydon Noreiga had a pair of sacrifice flies and Peter Phan added an RBI infield single. Spratt blasted a solo home run to left field as well for the Wildcats (4-7, 1-3).
But Assumption started to make some noise — literally and figuratively — in the fifth inning. The dugout cheers started even before the inning and it seemed to light a fire under the team as first three batters of the inning reached base. With the bases loaded, the scoring line started.
Max Stein had an RBI walk, Roderick Tanamor added a run after getting hit by a pitch, Tyler Welch chipped in a sac fly, Kaden Tolle had an RBI single and Noah Mack put the Knights in the lead, 6-4, with a two-run single.
Jackson Wohlers and Nic Orr added RBI singles later in the inning, which saw the Knights send 13 batters to the plate and leave with an 8-4 edge. Stein and Alex Good later scored in the sixth on an error and a wild pitch to push the lead to 10-4.
“We had a couple breaks and got off to a really good start to the inning, and the momentum built from there,” Assumption coach Greg Thissen said of his team’s big fifth. “It’s not a hard formula once you get some momentum and the guys get behind one another.”
Despite allowing the four runs to the Wildcats, Knights sophomore Tyler Welch earned the victory for Assumption in the second game. He struck out six in 5 1/3 innings pitched.
North got a few runs back in the sixth and seventh after a sac fly from Kelley and a RBI groundout from Nolan Mosier. Cody Baumer scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 10-7. But Stein, who relieved Welch, got the last two Wildcats to close the door on a comeback.