Wes-Del baseball defeats Wapahani in conference rivalry game

Wapahani head coach Heath Dudley runs April 19 during a game against Eastern Hancock at Eastern Hancock High School. Zach Carter, DN.
Wapahani head coach Heath Dudley runs April 19 during a game against Eastern Hancock at Eastern Hancock High School. Zach Carter, DN.

The Wes-Del Warriors (7-4) were set to square off with MEC (Mid-Eastern Conference) opponent, the Wapahani Raiders (4-7) on Wednesday evening. Both teams have had up-and-down seasons thus far, and each headed into the game looking for stability as the season's halfway point has arrived. At the end of the night, it was Wes-Del taking the victory 7-4.

“Right now our focus is being back and ready to play tomorrow,” Wes-Del head coach Daniel Hanson said. “We try not to look at the big picture, not look at the rankings, to the end of the year, none of that. Just getting in and getting better at focusing on what we can control.”

After a scoreless first inning, Wapahani was the one to draw first blood in the contest in the second. Sophomore Caleb Lewis would advance a runner with a bunt single after a close call at first. Then the throw to first allowed junior Brock Zickgraf to score from second to give the Raiders an early 1-0 lead.

After the early score, the Raider bats would not be heard from again until the latter half of the game.

“I didn’t think our approach the first couple times through the lineup was what it needed to be,” Wapahani head coach Heath Dudley said. “We were having trouble staying back and let them get ahead in counts early.”

The Warriors responded back by scoring a run of their own from junior Tyler Summers knocking in an RBI single to even the game at one apiece.

The maroon and white were able to carry that offensive start into the third as the Warriors tacked on four more runs to give them a four run cushion.

Aiding in that effort was Wapahanis starting pitcher, junior Nate Luce. Wes-Del batters were able to make consistent contact off of him and he walked multiple batters as well. As a result, the Warriors got the bases loaded in the third leading to RBI opportunities the home team took advantage of.

“As the years gone on our bats have seemed to just get better,” Hanson said. “We were aggressive and not just in a defensive mindset early in counts.”

In the opposite dugout, senior Jared Ladd, pitcher for the Warriors had been handling business defensively and ended the day for Wes-Del with 7 IP, 5 K, 4 ER. He also had a big hand in the offensive success for the Warriors as well with 4 AB, 3 H, and 2 RBI’s.

“He’s just continuing to get better,” Hanson said. “We take pride in our pitching and then making plays defensively behind it, but overall Jared was outstanding for us tonight.”

After seeing the struggles from Luce on the mound in the third, to open the fourth inning, Dudley decided to make a pitching change with freshman Grayson Acosta taking the mound for the Raiders.

“We got behind in counts early,” Dudley said. “I would’ve liked for us to have been better with counts where we can be a little more unpredictable with what we’re doing.”

The pitching change didn’t seem to change much with Acosta starting his day with two straight walks. After those walks, Ladd was able to drive in another run for the maroon and white giving the Warriors a 6-1 lead.

It would be a similar fifth inning with no scoring from the Raiders, but then a bases loaded walk to tack on to the Warriors' already large lead. Wapahani was going to need a lot of offense that hadn’t been seen all game in order to attempt the comeback.

Wapahanis’ sophomore Quentine James was able to provide a spark of hope for the Raiders knocking in a two-RBI single in the sixth to cut the deficit to just four, 7-3.

In order to give themselves a chance, the red and black needed to escape unscathed at the bottom of the sixth to give themselves a chance. Thanks to a diving effort on a fly ball to center field from Zickgraf, and a Wes-Del runner failing to tag up at first, the Raiders got a double play to give them that chance they needed. 

“I thought we played pretty okay defensively overall,” Dudley said. “We just put ourselves in a hole early.”

Wapahani, down to its last gasp had a glimpse of hope after two singles and a walk to open the top of the seventh. Now with two outs, the tying run stepped up to the plate, but Ladd was able to strike the batter out looking to close out the win. 

“We just have to come out tomorrow and be ready to fight,” Dudley said. “Try and regroup, do the things we didn’t do as well today a little bit better and hope for the best.”

Wes-Del will be on the road at Monroe Central (2-12) for their second straight conference game April 25 at 5 p.m.

Wapahani will also be on the road as the Raiders travel to Shenandoah (8-3) April 25 at 5 p.m.

Contact David Moore with comments at david.moore@bsu.edu or on X @gingninj63


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