The Hartford baseball team took the University School team to task in a doubleheader Saturday at USM. In the first game, Hartford’s Corey Mahnke pitched a no-hitter but lost 1-0, as USM’s ace Josh Baker struck out thirteen Orioles and shut Hartford out. In the second game, the Orioles would not be denied. They clubbed the Wildcats 12-2, handing USM its first loss of the season in the process.
“They’re a good team,” said USM’s coach Tim Bartz of the Division 1 Orioles. “We were able to play small ball in the first game, but they got ahead of us in the second game, and we didn’t have a chance.”
The Wildcats used small ball to get a run off of Mahnke in the bottom of the first, although they did not get a hit in doing it. Lane Stanford led off with a walk, stole second, and went to third on Duncan Brown’s sacrifice bunt. Stanford scored the game’s only run when Baker hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield.
After that, the game sailed along as Mahnke and Baker contended in a classic pitchers’ duel. Mahnke did not concede a hit, walked two, and struck out six while pitching a six-inning complete game. Baker scattered three hits and three walks in seven innings.
Baker did get into trouble in the seventh. He walked Kevin Klipstein and gave up a single to Thomas Kahnke. Austin Schmitt, who was running for Klipstein, made it to third on the hit. With no out and runners at the corners, Baker made Sweeney hit a soft fly ball toward left. USM’s shortstop Nishad Agrawal back-pedaled, caught the ball, and then pegged a perfect throw to the plate. USM’s catcher, Brown, caught it and was waiting to put out Schmitt, who had tagged up and was attempting to score. After the double play, Baker hit Drew Palmer with a pitch. It took ten pitches, but Baker finally struck out Lincoln Robel to end the Hartford threat and win the game.
In the second game, the Orioles took full advantage of seven hits and twelve walks surrendered by USM pitchers to stop USM’s winning streak at twenty-one.
The Orioles gave John Sprtel, their starting pitcher, an early lead, and he made it hold up. They used small ball themselves to score two runs in the top of the second inning. The first two batters in the inning, Kahnke and Sweeney, both walked and then advanced a base on Mahnke’s sacrifice bunt. Kahnke scored on Rick Perley’s bunt single. Sweeeney raced home moments later on a wild pitch.
The Orioles took an 8-0 lead by scoring six runs in the third. Four straight singles by Sprtel, Kahnke, Klipstein and Sweeney started the inning. Mahnke reached on an error, and the Orioles led 5-0 before USM could record an out. Schmitt, Cale Klink, and Miles Heidecker all walked to force in two more, and a sacrifice fly by Sprtel gave the Orioles their final run of the inning.
The Wildcats got their first hit of the day in the bottom of the fourth inning of the second game. After Baker made it to first on an error, Tommy Pennington lined a single to right field. Baker ran to third on the play. Baker scored on an error and Pennington went to second. With two out, Nathan Burke drilled a single to right to drive in Pennington and make the score 8-2.
Hartford added three more runs in the sixth and one more in the seventh to capture the victory. Sprtel gave up a single to Stanford in the fifth, but otherwise kept the USM bats quiet as he won the game. Billy Lawton, USM’s starter, took the loss.
Hartford is now 11-10. USM is 21-1. The Wildcats conclude their regular season with three straight non-conference games: Monday against Burlington Catholic Central, Tuesday against Martin Luther. and Wednesday against Germantown. All three games begin at 4:30 p.m., and all three will be played at USM.