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MOUNT WASHINGTON - Baseball was all that was on the minds of the Bullitt East Chargers last week as they headed to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Florida for five varsity games.
OK, maybe there were a few other things on he minds of teenagers in Florida on spring break, but coach Jeff Bowles’ team had blinders on long enough to roll through five quality opponents. More importantly, the games in Florida allowed the Bullitt East coaching staff to nail down some rotation issues for the second half of the regular season that starts with a district game this week.
“We’re producing enough offense to win games,” Bowles said on Sunday. “We don’t want to leave it in Florida. We have district games and some big games coming up. I’m excited about this week. I’m excited to see how we play against opponents we know. We’re on the road all week.”
The spring break trip pretty much locked in two starting pitching jobs in the rotation, but Bowles and his coaching staff still are looking for two more consistent arms for the homestretch.
“There are still some pitching that needs to be ironed out,” the coach said. “We’re positive on half of our four-man rotation.
“It’s just so close with the others,” Bowles added. “We’re looking to find two consistent guys to take the spots. Whoever doesn’t get those spots I’ll feel comfortable with in the bullpen.”
The two solid starting spots will go to senior Coulten Maupin and junior Jonathon Recktenwald. Maupin allowed just two runs and three hits in a 10-2 victory on Tuesday and Recktenwald won two games as he allowed only one run in 11 innings of work.
In the first game on the road, Bullitt East jumped on top of Tri-Village High School (Ohio) 6-0 and after three innings Bowles pulled start Zac Ching to save him for later in the week. That move backfired as the Ohio team scored six times in the fourth and fifth innings to tie the game. Bullitt East needed some late offense for the 14-6 victory.
It was a tough outing for sophomore Chase Patton who one worked one-plus inning, allowing five of the runs. Josh Stearns came on and got out of the trouble and eventually was the winning pitcher when Bullitt East rallied.
TheChargers collected 14 hits in the game with the only extra base hit being a home run off the bat of junior Derek Jones that plated two runs in the first inning. Jones finished with three hits while Tyler Minogue, Alex Richardson and Stearns each had two hits. Hunter Wood, Michael Faul, Brett Hatfield and Richardson each drove home two runs.
Recktenwald threw a gem of a game on Monday as Bullitt East shut down Middle Township (New Jersey) by a 5-0 count. The junior right-hander allowed just two hits while striking out 11. The game was never in doubt after the Chargers scored three times in the first inning.
Minogue had three of the nine hits by Bullitt East in the win while Wood and Maupin each had two hits. The Chargers stole five bases in the game.
On Tuesday, Maupin was just as strong despite falling behind 2-0 after the first two innings of a game against Willougby South High School (Ohio), a team that Bullitt East has faced in other spring break trips. The Chargers turned this one around with six runs in the third inning after there were two outs.
Maupin worked all seven innings, allowing only three hits.
The only extra base hit for the Chargers was a bases-loaded triple by senior Trevor Gonzalez in the third inning. Maupin, Richardson and Minogue each had two hits.
After a day off on Wednesday to go park hopping, the Chargers returned to action on Thursday against Convenant Christian Academy (Louisiana) and this time the Chargers had to work hard for an 8-7 victory. The winning run scored in the bottom of the seventh with two outs. Patton was hit by a pitch and then stole second. He then scored on Avery Davenport’s single.
Bullitt East had seven hits in the win including three off the bat of Davenport. Wood had a triple and drove home two runs while Patton scored three times.
Senior Bradley Johnson was the starter for Bullitt East and worked five innings. He gave up five hits and two of the four runs on his watch were earned. Stearns worked one inning but Jacob Woodruff came in to get the win by working the seventh inning.
The final game of the trip had the Chargers squaring off against St. Charles Prep (Ohio). Bullitt East trailed 4-2 before scoring five times in the bottom of the fourth inning for a 7-4 win.
Hatfield was the starting pitcher for the red and gold and the senior worked into the fourth frame. Recktenwald then came on and picked up the win as he worked four innings, scattering four hits and allowing only one earned run.
Bullitt East did not hit a double in five games in Florida, but they got another triple when Wood cleared the bases with a big hit in the fourth inning.
Woodruff did not have a plate appearance in the game, but he scored twice and had three stolen bases as a courtesy runner for catcher Zach McMillen.
The Chargers stay in travel mode this week as they travel to Bullitt Central on Tuesday before taking on DeSales on Wednesday. The team then travels to Owensboro on Friday for a single game at Owensboro Catholic on Friday before playing two games on Saturday at Owensboro High School.