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Cats sweep rival Trojans

By Braydon Ertel, Contributor

At the end of last week, the Franklin County Wildcats and the East Central Trojans battled it out on back to back nights to begin the EIAC baseball season. On Thursday night, the Franklin County Wildcats traveled to St. Leon to take on the East Central Trojans in their season opener. The Cats had their first five games of the year rained out, so it was a good feeling to be back on the field for the 2018 season.

In Thursday's game, the Cats were able to outlast the Trojans in extra innings with a 9-6 victory. The Trojans scored the first run of the game in the first inning with a walk and two throwing errors by the Cats. However, the Cats struck back in the next inning. After back to back singles by Alex Bischoff and Nick Pennington and a walk by Landon Bundy, Augustus Runyon walked to bring home a run to tie the game. Then, with two outs, Tommy Ratz singled up the middle to bring home Pennington and Bundy and give the Cats a 3-1 lead. In the bottom of the inning, Isaiah Wheat brought home Simon Williams with a single to cut the lead in half for the Trojans. In the third, a single by Kyle Merkin and a sac bunt by Jake Jennings led to an RBI groundout to first by Simon Williams helped the Trojans tie the game at 3.

In the fourth, the Cats answered with a leadoff single by Landon Bundy. Then, following a sac bunt by Matthew Billman, Dalton Durbin singled home Bundy to give the Cats the lead. East Central again had the answer thanks to a walk by Luke Kelly and RBI singles by both Eli Kramer and Kyle Merkin to take back the lead at 5-4 in the 4th. Franklin County tied the game up in the 5th with an RBI double by Alex Bischoff to bring home Brennan Meyers. Although the Cats failed to score in the next two innings, Matthew Billman was able to face the minimum in both the sixth and the seventh to send the game into extra innings at 5-5.

In the eighth, Brennan Meyers led off with a hit by pitch. Then, a single by Alex Bischoff and walks by both Nick Pennington and Landon Bundy brought home a run to give the Cats the lead. Augustus Runyon doubled home both Bischoff and Pennington, and following an infield single by Dalton Durbin, Tommy Ratz walked to bring home the fourth run of the inning and give the Cats a 9-5 lead. In the bottom of the inning, Jack Hutchins singled home Shane Sturgill to start the Trojans' comeback. However, Billman forced a routine 6-4-3 double play turned by Brennan Meyers, Ben Krider, and Alex Bischoff. Leading the way on offense for the Cats were Dalton Durbin and Alex Bischoff who both picked up 3 hits and an RBI. Landon Bundy also tallied a multi-hit game. On the hill, Alex Bischoff surrendered 5 runs on 7 hits in 5 innings. He also struck out 6. Matthew Billman came in to tally the win while allowing 1 run on 1 hit, and he struck out 2.

Then, the next day, the Cats hosted the Trojans for the second game in two days. It was a cold night with rain that eventually turned into sleet and snow. Despite the poor conditions, Ben Krider pitched an absolute gem. He threw a complete game, two-hitter and got the win for the Cats. On the offensive side, the Cats started off early with a deep solo home run by Nick Pennington in the bottom of the second inning to give the Cats a 1-0 lead. The Cats capitalized again in the third inning with RBI singles by Alex Bischoff and Nick Pennington to extend the lead to 3-0.

The Trojans were able to get on the board with an RBI single by Mitch Behrle to bring home Kyle Merkin following an error on the prior pitch. Despite the attempted comeback, Franklin County was able to put it away in the bottom of the inning with four runs thanks to a bases loaded single by Ben Krider to bring home Landon Bundy and Augustus Runyon. Then, Tommy Ratz brought home Matthew Billman with a single, and Ben Krider scored on a fielder's choice by Dalton Durbin. Ben Krider would close out the game and get the win with a complete game, three-hitter in 85 pitches.

Leading the way on offense for FC were Nick Pennington, Landon Bundy and Ben Krider who all tallied two hits. Pennington hit his first career varsity home run. Krider and Pennington also both drove in two runs. The Cats were back in action on Monday at Connersville, but the score came in after printing time. Franklin County's next game is tomorrow, Thursday, April 12, at 5:30 p.m. at home against the Connersville Spartans.