From the moment his bat struck the ball on Thursday, Plymouth Christian Academy junior catcher Josh Slater knew he did something pretty special.
Slater lofted a towering fly ball that cleared the fence in right field with ease for his first varsity home run, a three-run shot that punctuated PCA’s 15-0 victory over Taylor Baptist Park.
The Eagles, fueled by the homer, tallied eight runs in the third off Baptist Park pitcher Grant Kowalski to invoke the 15-run mercy rule and close out a lopsided Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Red Division win.
“It’s my first out of the parker in my whole life actually,” Slater said. “It was pretty great, it meant a lot to me. I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work for it.
“And personally, I just want to give all the glory to lord and savior Jesus Christ. He gave me the strength and ability to play this game and it felt pretty fantastic to get it done.”
Slater turned on an inside fastball and ripped it between the scoreboard and right field line, scoring teammates Evan Wright and Will Crecelius to make it a 12-0 game.
“I got a little bit of wind behind it and put a pretty good swing on it,” Slater said. “I got a little bit of wind behind it and put a pretty good swing on it. I saw the right fielder look up and I was pretty thrilled with it.”
Also thrilled was his coach, Joe Bottorff, whose team improved to 2-0 with its second rout of Baptist Park in three days.
“He didn’t miss it, that’s for sure,” Bottorff said. “I knew it was gone right off the bat. I think it would have been good without the wind, too.
“He’s been out here watching his cousins (Jon, Daniel, Michael) hit home runs for the last five or six years, so he was pretty happy to get his first one.”
PCA then scored three more times for the required 15-run difference to finish off the Wildcats.
Base hits by Michael Slater (2-for-3), Evan Wright and Will Crecelius did the trick, with Crecelius’ single to center plating Matt Cusumano (who walked) to end the contest — played on a frigid afternoon.
“I was happy with the guys, they swung the bat,” Bottorff said. “We told them to go up and look for something to hit. … They were aggressive and (Taylor Park’s) an inexperienced team, but starting next week we’re going to have a lot more difficult competition in our conference.
“We play Southfield Christian on Monday, they’re not going to be as inexperienced as these guys were.”
Friday, the Eagles were scheduled to face Ann Arbor Prep in a non-conference game.
Also playing a major role in the win was pitcher Tanner Hay, who struck out all nine Baptist Park batters he retired (only giving up a first-inning bloop single to Matt Martin).
“Tanner was looking really sharp, his fastball was coming in pretty quick,” Josh Slater said. “His curveball was starting to get some break on it. … I think he fooled a lot of guys.”
Hay (2-for-3) also helped his cause with a triple in the bottom of the first to score two runs. He later doubled.
“Actually if he wasn’t dead tired he probably could have had an inside-the-park homer,” said Bottorff about the Hay triple. “That was really good for him, he hasn’t had a lot of swings in his (PCA) career.
“He’s always been a good pitcher for us but he hasn’t batted that much.”
Other PCA hits were collected by Adam Albert and Austin Andres.
On Tuesday, in their season opener, the Eagles won 17-0 over Baptist Park in three innings.
Michael Slater went the distance, allowing one hit and striking out eight.
Leading the attack were Josh Slater (three singles, three RBI), Michael Slater (two singles, three RBI), Nick Andres (double, three RBI), Austin Andres (two singles) and Jordan Talbott (double).
Baptist Park committed eight errors to aid the Eagles, a generous blueprint the Wildcats followed again two days later.
“We were up there swinging the bat and putting pressure on their defense,” Bottorff said.
PLYMOUTH 8-7, CANTON 1-0: Host Plymouth had it going on against Canton in Wednesday’s doubleheader matchup between Park rivals.
In the opener, Kevin Anthony pitched a complete game, giving up no earned runs in miserable conditions.
Sparking the Wildcats were Andrew Jossey (2-for-3, two RBIs), Evan Claggett (2-for-3) and Dakota Lynn (1-for-2, RBI).
Game 2 featured six shutout innings by Josh Janovsky with Owen Spryzak tossing a scoreless seventh.
Patrick Downing had a huge game in the nightcap, going 3-for-4 with six RBIs — featuring a three-run homer in the first. Pete Carravallah went 2-for-2.
Plymouth improved to 9-4 overall and 5-1 in the KLAA South Division while the Chiefs dropped to 7-6, 3-4.