Eight-run first gives Craig pitchers a break
JANESVILLE--With the weekly schedule chock full of games, the Janesville Craig baseball team got exactly what it needed Tuesday night.
The Cougars scored eight first-inning runs, all with two outs, on their way to a five-inning victory.
Connor Perkins, Jarod Hoffarth and Sam Quinn teamed up to throw a two-hitter, and Craig beat Madison East 11-1 at Riverside Park.
“Connor Perkins logs a lot of innings for us, and to only need him to throw two innings is huge,” Cougars coach Vic Herbst said. “Now we can use him on the backside here this week, whereas I don’t know how usable he would’ve been down the line.”
Craig, which improved to 9-3 overall and 5-3 in the Big Eight, plays three straight days beginning Thursday. By using a pair of freshmen Monday and splitting up short innings Tuesday, they should be OK on arms during that stretch.
Perkins didn’t allow a baserunner, striking out three hitters in his two innings. Hoffarth allowed one hit and an unearned run with four strikeouts in two innings, and Quinn finished the game by getting out of a two-out jam with runners on first and second in the top of the fifth.
The Cougars made it a quick game thanks to a lengthy two-out rally in the first inning. Senior center fielder Wyatt Olson and junior second baseman McCauley Cox led off with singles and junior catcher Nick Blomgren was hit by a pitch.
But with the bases loaded, the next two Craig batters struck out, and East was on the verge of escaping the jam.
Instead, the Cougars got a bases-clearing double for the second straight night, as sophomore left fielder Chase Nyborg drilled a 3-1 pitch to the left-field wall.
“That was almost like a huge sigh of relief,” Herbst said. “We went from not getting much to really busting it open. You can take a little breath of fresh air and go to work.”
Freshman Evan Spry followed with his first of two run-scoring singles on the night before Craig drew three consecutive walks.
With Blomgren back up to the plate for his second plate appearance of the inning, he capped the rally with a two-run single up the middle.
“We played really solid baseball,” Herbst said. “Offensively, we were very patient early. We could’ve got nothing in the first, and we put up an eight-spot with two outs. That was the difference-maker.”
The Cougars get the day off today before playing at Madison West on Thursday.