Nick Wardlow pulled double duty on Monday night as the Whiteoak Wildcats hosted the Manchester Greyhounds. Not only did he have a complete game, 98 pitch outing, he also laid down the bunt that scored his teammate Justin Emery in the bottom of the seventh inning. Whiteoak improves to 5-9 overall with the win and is now 2-5 in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference.
The first five innings of the game was somewhat of a pitchers duel with a combined total of eight hits from both teams in those innings. The Wildcats were able to strike first in the game when Jason Jones reached base on a throwing error by the shortstop. Kyle Marler was next to the plate and hit a ball to the right side of the field and was able to get down the line in a hurry to force another throwing error by the Greyhounds. Jones ran to third on the throw and as he was sliding into third base, the Manchester first baseman threw past the third base bag and Jones jogged home and crossed the plate for the first run of the game. The ball rolled out of play and Marler was awarded third base. Steven Meyers came up next and laid down a safety squeeze bunt and Marler was able to sprint home for the second run of the inning.
To make things interesting, the Greyhounds came back in the top of the seventh inning to score their first two runs of the game and tie the score. The Wildcats were able to hold them to these two runs and went into the bottom of the last inning facing their third extra-inning game of the year.
Justin Emery was the leadoff man to start the inning and he proceeded to blast a line drive into left field that ricocheted off the fielders glove and allowed Emery to reach first safely. Emery then stole second base and advanced to third on a groudball by Michael Spencer. This brought Nick Wardlow up to the plate with one out and his teammate 90 feet from scoring the winning run. Wildcats head coach Chris Veidt made the decision to give Wardlow the suicide squeeze sign and on the very first pitch, Wardlow laid down a perfect bunt down the first base line and Emery came charging home. The Greyhounds had no possible play on the ball and Emery slid across the plate for the third and final run and Whiteoak won the battle with Manchester 3-2.
“It was kind of fitting the Nick [Wardlow] came up to the plate in that situation,” Wildcats coach Chris Veidt said after the exciting win. “If there was anyone who deserved the win tonight, it was him. He pitched an excellent, low pitch-count game and then laid down the perfect bunt to win the game. It was a risky call because anything could happen there. He could have gotten a bad pitch and not been able to bunt it or could have fouled it off and [Manchester] would have been prepared if we tried again. It was a combination of luck and execution. He got just the right pitch, we caught them off-guard and Nick laid down the perfect bunt for the situation.”
Leading the Wildcats at the plate was Tyler Williams who went 2-for-2; Jason Jones went 2-for-3 and scored once; Justin Emery was 0-for-4 but stole a base and was the game -winning run; Nick Wardlow was 1-for-3 and laid down the bunt that won the game.
Wardlow was also the winning pitcher in the game. He pitched all seven innings on 98 pitches, giving up zero earned runs, on eight hits, while walking one, hitting a batter, and striking out four.
Whiteoak is back in action on Tuesday, April 22nd as they host another SHAC opponent, Ripley.
Robert Stegbauer is a staff-reporter at the Times-Gazette and you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at RStegbauer.