Cade Phelps has been a sturdy force for the pitching staff of the Wellington Crusader baseball team as the season reaches the halfway point.
Case in point was Monday evening at the ball park and a double header sweep of the Winfield Vikings with Phelps nailing down both wins, each coming in relief.
“Cade has been our horse,” Wellington Head Coach Jeff Frazee said after the nightcap, a 4-3 walkoff win with a Phelps’ game winning RBI. “Our next game is a week from now so we knew he could go as much as we needed tonight,”
Seeing Phelps on the mound at all this spring is a welcomed sight for fans and family of the senior after his recovery from a torn ACL, suffered during football season, forcing the loss of his final basketball campaign of his high school career.
While it was Phelps with both wins in relief it was a pair of sophomores who started on the hill for the Crusaders and pitched well enough to last into the middle innings, holding a high powered Winfield offense to minimum damage.
Gage Cunningham worked the opener and was the recipient of a two- run lead in the first inning after a Matthew Rinehart single and a base on balls from Jack Nuss brought Julian Jimenez to the plate with two outs. An error by the Winfield third baseman on a sharply hit ball brought home both runners to give Wellington the early lead.
Rinehart and Nuss would factor in two more Crusader runs in the third inning after a walk issued to Rinehart was followed by a two-run homer from Nuss. Winfield would score late however to tie the score and send the game to extra innings.
In the eighth inning Nuss hit into a fielders choice, stole second, and then waited for Jimenez once again. And once again it was an error, this time at shortstop, that allowed the walk-off run to score and give Wellington a 5-4 win.
It was Cade Fairbanks’ turn in the rotation to open the night-cap and with the runs coming at a premium for the Crusaders it was fine that he pitched into the fifth inning where the lefty Phelps again took over in relief.
Wellington had taken a third inning lead of 2-1 on a Phelps’ two-run double that brought home Rinehart and Grey Hatfield before Winfield inched ahead by one run heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Cunningham led off the home half with a single and advanced to second when the Viking fielder bobbled the ball in right. Fairbanks followed with a single, after the Viking outfielders collided, to score Cunningham and tie the score at three apiece.
Pinch runner Austin Sears tried to go from first to third on Rinehart’s single but was gunned down by a good throw by the Viking fielder. Rinehart alertly advanced to second on the throw and after Hatfield gained first base on a HBP, Phelps sent a drive over the right fielder’s head to bring home the winner for Wellington.
While the timely hitting and shut down pitching gave Frazee something to smile about, it was the fielding of his Crusaders that had the head coach frowning at the end of the evening.
“I’d say that 75% of the runs we’ve surrendered this year are unearned. We’ve made a lot of errors and that’s something we’re going to have to clean up,” said Frazee.
They will have had a week to work on the fielding fundamentals before Buhler comes to town next Monday for a double-header at Hibbs-Hooten Stadium.
WIN 1 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 - 4 6 4
WEL 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 - 5 4 5
WIN 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 - 3 6 3
WEL 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 - 4 7 8