FOUNTAIN CITY, Ind.
As emotional as Union County’s baseball victory over Northeastern was Thursday, coach Jeff Mathews had a reminder as the Patriots prepared for the next opponent.
“We’re 0-0 starting tomorrow,” he said following Thursday’s 6-3 victory over the Knights.
The Patriots are actually 4-1, 2-0 in the Tri-Eastern Conference after Thursday.
The Patriots will have to put Thursday’s victory behind them as they host the Union County Invitational today.
Twin Valley South, Oldenburg Academy and South Dearborn will all make the trip to Liberty.
Having their No. 1 pitcher, Gehrig Shepler, on the mound was a clear difference-maker from a 17-1 beating to Class 3A-ranked Franklin County.
The senior pitched a complete game over the Knights, striking out eight and walking one.
“We always have a chance when Gehrig’s on the mound. He keeps us in most games. We’re going to need him down the stretch,” said battery-mate Bryce Fields, also a senior, who doubled twice in Thursday’s victory.
Shepler also made a diving attempt in foul territory during Wednesday’s loss.
“I’m pretty pleased with him,” Mathews said. “He’s paid his dues. He gives you everything that he has every time he’s out there. Last night (Wednesday), we’re down 12 runs and he’s the one that dove for that foul ball.”
Shepler added: “I just try to give it my all every day. … We’ve got a lot of potential this year. I’ve got to bring a lot of the young kids out and I want them to see how hard they have to work for us to win. And I just got to show a lot of effort, and hopefully they will too.”
Fields also had two hits, including a home run Wednesday. Hunter Miller homered Thursday, while Dakota Stansberry and Clint Spaeth doubled. Miller, Shane Mosley, Stansberry, Bryce Jenkins, Jake Stout and Spaeth each had one hit.
Knights move on
The loss was disappointing for Northeastern, which has high expectations as the Knights look to contend for TEC and sectional titles under first-year coach Steve Bray.
Bray played for Richmond’s State Finals team in 1993 and led the Randolph Southern softball team to the Class A semistate last year.
“Northeastern’s probably the best overall team on here,” Shepler said. “Up and down the lineup, they’re just packed. They can all hit the ball; defensively, they’re sound.”
Conner Silvers and Del Caudill combined for 10 strikeouts from the mound while Silvers and Garrett Dill each had two hits. Silvers also doubled and Dill, Silvers and Austin Kenworthy each had an RBI.
The Knights are 2-1, 1-1 in TEC play and return to action today as they host Wapahani.
“We expect to see (Union County) again and I know that we’ll be a different ballclub then,” Bray said. “We just have to push through that mental barrier where we’ve got to expect more out of ourselves.”