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Tigers stay hot, win fourth straight

Zach Schmitz catches a ball from the relay to third to gun down Wyatt Carlson, who tried to leg out a triple in the first inning Friday night.
Zach Schmitz catches a ball from the relay to third to gun down Wyatt Carlson, who tried to leg out a triple in the first inning Friday night.

LENOX – East Union lost to Lenox Friday night, losing 13-3 in five innings.

The barn burning Tigers make it their fourth consecutive win. In their win streak, the Tigers have out-scored the opponent 44-17, with their last two wins coming by way of a run-rule run.

A six-run first inning for Lenox broke the game open before it seemingly got started. A bases loaded single from Cullen Wood scored two and a Keegan Christensen single made it 3-0.

The inning continued to snowball, with East Union trailing 6-0 before its first base runner in the second inning. When it came to the offensive output Lenox had showcased the last three games, EU knew what the Tigers were capable of doing.

“Kind of what we got,” said EU head coach Nate McCollough on what the team was expecting from Lenox’s offense. “Put the ball in play, run the bases really well and put the pressure on us defensively. ... That first inning kind of put us behind the eight ball really quick. We couldn’t fight back enough.”

Once Lenox was ahead, it was smooth sailing for the Tigers. Three runs across the fourth and fifth innings by EU didn’t hurt the Tigers going into the bottom of the fifth inning.

Lenox was able to chase Eagles starter Ethan Mitchell out of the game due to a combination of trouble and pitch count, which led to Lenox jumping all over the bullpen and hauling off for a seven-run fifth inning.

Playing down, McCollough said the game plan wasn’t altered as the game progressed.

“Honestly, we didn’t change the game plan too much,” said McCollough. “Kind of dug our own hole a little bit, but we stuck with the plan of attacking and seeking the fastball and hit it. ... Once Ethan got to his pitch limit, we just went downhill.”

East Union’s struggles against Lenox, along with other games early in the season, stem from a lack of pitching depth.

“You’ve got to have guys that can come out of the bullpen and throw strikes and we didn’t have that today,” said McCollough. “It’s been very difficult (to find depth in the bullpen). ... The two games we have won, Ethan has started, and we were able to score some runs and the bullpen did just enough. ... It’s been tough to find another guy to step up and throw strikes.”

EU’s Mitchell pitched 4 2/3 innings, striking out two with five walks. He allowed three earned runs of the eight that crossed the plate with him on the bump.

In relief, Gus McNeil didn’t record an out, allowing five runs (two earned) while walking four.

Lenox, despite a modest line out of Cullen Wood in five innings of work, expected more out of him.

“To be honest, we expected a little more out of Cullen,” said Lenox head coach Trevor Luther. “He’s a much better pitcher than he was today and needs to be a little more consistent on the mound in order to adjust a little better to the umpire. ... Overall, not too bad (of a start). Made some decent plays behind him, but he’s got to get better and we’ll tweak some things.”

Wood pitched all five innings, striking out four while walking three. He earned the win with Mitchell taking the loss.

At the plate for Lenox, Christensen and Xavier Adamson drove in three and two RBIs, respectively. Christensen went 3-for-3 while Wood went 2-for-3.

The win to make it four straight after struggling offensively to open the season shows the Tigers are hitting their stride when needed.

“We’re finally piecing things together. We’re finding a grove in the second week,” said Luther. “Last week was rough, obviously, ... we learned a lot from it and made the adjustments needed and as you can see, we’re rolling now because of it.”

Adjustments Lenox took to get back into things were to find a better understanding of the zone consistently. Luther said the need for “live reps” (facing live pitching) was a big factor in helping Lenox find their swing, and stacking the schedule with games was a positive for the club.

“We’re finally catching fire here,” said Luther. “We just need to keep it going here moving forward. ... I think everyone in our lineup has confidence and they’re feeding off each other. Success feeds off success.”

UP NEXT – Lenox faces Lamoni tonight (Monday) at 6 p.m. in Lamoni. East Union will face Murray in Murray at 6 p.m. today also.

Lenox 13, East Union 3 (5)

R H E

EU 002 10X X — 3 7 3

LX 600 07X X — 13 11 0

LX: Cullen Wood 5IP 4K 3BB and Colton Gordon. EU: Ethan Mitchell 4 2/3IP 2K 5BB, Wyatt Carlson 0IP, Gus McNeil 0IP 0K 4BB and Scott Driskill. W - Wood. L - Mitchell. HR — None. 3B — None. 2B —LX: Jon Weaver. EU: Wyatt Carlson. RBI — LX: Keegan Christensen (3), Xavier Adamson (2), Cullen Wood (2), Conner Fitzgerald (1). EU: Mitchell (2), Alex Carrigan (1). Multiple hits — LX: Christensen (3), Wood (2). EU: Carlson (2).

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