On a night when both ballclub's pitching staffs were having trouble finding the strike zone early on the Wellington Heat was able to muster enough runs to hold off Valley Center 7-6 and remain undefeated in the early season.
By Karl Younkman
On a night when both ballclub’s pitching staffs were having trouble finding the strike zone early on the Wellington Heat was able to muster enough runs to hold off Valley Center 7-6 and remain undefeated in the early season.
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As happy as the Heat players were with the win the coaches were not as evidenced by the post-game sprints the boys ran in left field.
“We were a bit lackadaisical tonight,” Associate Head Coach Adam Niesius said after the sprint session. “ It’s something that needs to be corrected as soon as possible.”
Most of the damage the Heat caused the Diamond Dogs in the first inning was courtesy of two walks and a hit-by-pitch that were wrapped around two singles when the home team accounted for 4 runs.. But the Heat was doing their best to pay the favor back, issuing several walks and HBP of their own in the early innings.
With the Heat leading 7-4 in the top of the seventh Valley Center managed to load the bases with two outs and a basehit drove home two runs until Brandon McMillan came to the mound to record the third out and preserve a one run lead.
In the eighth McMilllan had to deal with two baserunners but was able to fan the final batter of the inning, preserving the lead. The Heat went quietly in the home half and that brought closer Robbie Romero to the mound in the ninth.
Romero needed only 12 pitches and three strikeouts to earn his 2nd save of the season. Oklahoma City University product Romero was near flawless last season for the Heat in the closer role and seems to have settled in this year once again. Tyler Clancy was credited with the win for Wellington.
Coach Neisius knows his players play hard. “This team is going to compete,” said Neisius. “We didn’t come to play tonight and that’s not good. But we needed a close game to show our guys they need to compete every night.”
The Heat face the Denver Cougars once again before a day off Wednesday. The game starts at Hibbs-Hooten at 7:05.