Pitching depth carries Thompson over Sacred Heart
Brady Schwab is searching deep onto his roster looking for pitching arms.
On Tuesday, in a matchup of high school baseball powers, Schwab-coached Thompson handed East Grand Forks Sacred Heart a season-opening 8-3 loss at Stauss Park.
Thompson, the North Dakota Class B high school state runner-up each of the past two seasons, went through four pitchers in the win. That came a day after the Tommies used six pitchers in splitting a doubleheader against Hillsboro-Central Valley.
"We have kids who can throw,'' said Schwab, who has 16 players on his roster. "But most of them haven't seen varsity pitching time. In non-region games like this, we're giving a lot of those guys a chance.''
Thompson returns its top two pitchers from last season in Clay Odenbach and Marcus Hughes. Another proven pitcher, Cadyn Schwabe, is battling some injuries. Schwab is trying to develop depth from an otherwise inexperienced group of pitchers.
That's why it was Josh Sem followed by Kyle Odenbach, Hayden Overby and Tyler Cunningham, with none of them throwing more than two innings.
"We don't know how many of them can be top-end guys,'' Schwab said. "That's my biggest concern. We're trying to find out who can succeed at the varsity level. Today, all of the kids came in and and pounded the strike zone.''
Sacred Heart took an early 1-0 lead, scoring in the bottom of the first inning without benefit of a hit.
Thompson took the lead for good in the fourth. Schwabe tripled to deep right field leading off and scored on a Clay Odenbach ground out. The Tommies made it 2-1 when Overby reached on a two-base error and scored on a passed ball and a wild pitch.
Thompson, 4-1, broke the game open in the fifth, scoring four runs with only two hits. The Tommies took advantage of four walks, a hit batter, two wild pitches and a passed ball to manufacture the big inning.
"We have to find a way to be more consistent pitching,'' Sacred Heart coach Paul Bethke said. "Oscar (Ortiz, who started and allowed one earned run in four innings) did a good job. But the other guys we threw struggled to throw strikes. They were behind in the count to a lot of batters.''
Sacred Heart actually held a 5-3 advantage in hits. Brenden Bethke was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI, and Gage Wavra was 2-for-4 with two runs.
"Brenden and Gage really went after it,'' Paul Bethke said. "They were aggressive."