PATASKALA – The Watkins Memorial baseball pitching staff was an embarrassment of riches this spring.
With three senior starters to lead the way, it meant juniors like Cole Music had to wait their turn. Music did just that and now has found himself on what has been a reliable proving ground for previous Watkins pitchers.
Music, a left-hander, threw four hitless innings in a 12-2 victory June 24 for Pickerington Post 283 against Lancaster Post 11. Music struck out seven.
“I think I had a pretty good outing. I felt good,” Music said. “I just work down and away from hitters, stay out of the hitting zone. I just get ground balls if I can, but strikeouts are nice too obviously.”
Former Watkins players Eric Robinson, Robby Sexton and Danny Sexton previously turned strong summers on Post 283 into outstanding following seasons for Watkins, and Music is hoping to do the same next spring.
The Warriors graduate Chandler Day, Doug Connor and Kyle Gannon, who were a combined 18-3 in helping them win Licking County League and Division I district titles. Music will be among those asked to pick up the slack.
“I’ve pitched quite a bit this summer. I’ve gotten quite a bit of innings,” said Music, who pitched only 11 innings during the spring. “It wasn’t my role for the high school team, but for the summer team, it is mainly pitching. Next spring it should be different. I should pitch quite a bit hopefully. That is what I am looking forward to.”
Gannon, who threw the final inning against Lancaster, was in the same position as Music a year ago. He also built on a strong summer.
Playing a competitive schedule with few off days, coach Chris Weber uses his entire roster. Young players have to grow up, or they get beat up. For Gannon, it was the latter, and he parlayed that into a chance to play next season at Muskingum.
“I think the biggest thing that carried over was the confidence,” Gannon said. “I probably lacked in confidence last year, and confidence was key this year.”
Connor and infielder Liam Leonard also are playing this summer for Post 283. It is one more chance for the Watkins players to play together before going their separate ways and potentially matching up down the road.
“Like Doug, he has been playing with me probably since we were 5 or 6 years old, so it is nice having him around,” Gannon said. “This is actually my last season with him, but having all of these guys around, it’s a good chemistry that we have.”
Gannon and Connor were both unbeaten on the mound during the spring, but Gannon said it did not become a competition between the friends.
“I just went out there and did my own thing,” Gannon said. “I didn’t worry about what Doug did. I cheered him on when I wasn’t pitching, but other than that, I just tried to do my own thing.”
Pickerington jumped on Lancaster for 10 runs during the first four innings. Connor singled, was twice hit by pitches and reached on an error, scoring two runs. Leonard walked and later scored in the second and third innings and drove in a run with a fielder’s choice ground out in the fourth.
Post 283 recently traveled to Omaha, Neb., for the first time and played five games against teams from four states and also attended several College World Series games.
“I had a good outing out there with six innings and eight (strikeouts),” Music said. “It was fun to also see the College World Series and see those kids throw. It was a great experience overall for the team.”
Pickerington then was in Napoleon and Defiance this past weekend to play against some of the top teams in Ohio and Michigan.
This week is being spent close to home as Post 283 plays in Lancaster’s Post 11 Classic. Pool games are being played throughout the week with the semifinals and finals to be played Sunday.