Kettle Falls High dropped a Northeast 2B League doubleheader at Northwest Christian back on March 27 by scores of 5-0, 9-2.
The Bulldogs had trouble mounting any kind of an offensive attack against NWC. KFHS managed only five hits in the 14 innings of baseball played at Colbert.
“We obviously had trouble manufacturing runs and it’s tough to win when you can’t score,” KFHS head coach Landon Johnston said of the offensive anemia. “We haven’t really had a chance to practice on a real field, let alone our actual varsity field. Northwest Christian has been on theirs for two weeks now. But that’s just an excuse. The fact is that we just didn’t hit the ball.”
Kettle Falls hitters struck out 16 times in the twinbill.
“There is no reason we should have 16 strikeouts,” Johnston said. “That’s more than two per inning and makes it pretty easy on the opposing pitcher and his defense.”
Despite the offensive woes, Johnston said he was pleased with his team’s pitching.
“I feel sorry for Tyler Vining,” Johnston said. “He took the loss in the first game, but pitched well.”
The big junior has gotten all of one run worth of support in his 11 innings on the mound to date.
Vining allowed just one run through four innings of the opener against NWC. Vining started to tire in the fifth when he surrendered four runs.
“But I was very pleased with Tyler’s control,” Johnston said.
Vining struck out five and walked just one. He also paced Kettle Falls offensively with the team’s lone extra base hit (a double in the sixth inning).
In the second game, KFHS starter Brandon Thomas struggled. But the lefty didn’t get much help from his defense (four errors). Thomas allowed nine runs in three innings of work (five earned). He struck out two, walked two and was touched for 12 NWC hits.
Seniors Brent McNeil (first game) and Reuben Winter (game two) were solid in relief roles against the Crusaders.
“Our relievers threw really well,” Johnston said. “They showed significant improvement from their first appearances.”
McNeil struck out two and didn’t walk anyone in his one inning of work. Winter scattered three hits in three innings of work in the second game. He fanned two and didn’t walk anyone.
“I was really impressed with their improvement, since neither one of them has had much chance to throw bullpen or work with live hitters at all this spring. They will only continue to improve with each outing and I see our bullpen being a big strength for us down the road.”
Offensively in game two, junior Nathan Disque doubled and scored a run in three trips to the plate.
After five games (2-3), Johnston said he see’s his pitching as better than expected. Offensively, the Bulldogs are still a work in progress.
“We need lots of work there,” Johnston said of Kettle’s offense. “But I’m not worried. If we stay positive and stop getting down on ourselves, we will be just fine.
“Each day is a chance to work harder.”
Kettle Falls, like everybody else, has been hampered by a very soggy spring. Those issues continue. The Bulldogs will be off for Spring Break and will resume play on Saturday, April 7 with a scheduled noon doubleheader at Colfax.