Bulldogs overcome slow start to take pair from host Tigers
With falling temperatures and intermittent light rain, weather conditions weren’t exactly conducive to baseball when Otsego traveled to Allegan for a Wolverine Conference twinbill on Friday, April 13.
It wasn’t a big surprise, then, that both teams struggled offensively at the start of the opening game, with a combined one run being scored on one hit with seven strikeouts through three innings.
Then came the top of the fourth.
After being limited to a Jaekob Sallee single by Allegan starter Alex Babbitt to that point, Otsego erupted for six hits as part of a nine-run uprising in what turned out to be a 15-2 victory in five innings.
The Bulldogs carried those hot bats into the nightcap, winning 14-1 in game that was stopped in the fifth inning due to darkness.
Mason Ingold started the fourth-inning rally for Otsego in the opener by drawing a walk. It was one of three free passes issued by Allegan pitching in the frame. The Tigers also hit three batters to go along with the six Otsego hits.
Derek Ward drove in the first Bulldog run of the inning with a single. Other run-scoring hits included a two-run singles by Addison Atwater and Corbin Smith as well as RBI singles by Sallee and Derek Slocum.
“Alex Babbitt looked really tough through the first three innings, but the wheels sort of came off in the fourth,” Otsego coach Matt Eldred said. “We really just maximized the opportunities that we had in that inning. An inning like that can take the wind out your sails.
“I will give our hitters credit for taking the things that were given and not trying to do too much.”
Otsego tacked on five more runs an inning later, with a two-run double by Will Eldred serving as the big blow.
That was more than enough offensive support for Eldred, who got the start on the mound and worked four scoreless innings for the win. He limited the Tigers to two hits—singles by Carl Chenard and Hayden Kruithoff, both in the fourth inning—with no walks and five strikeouts.
Allegan avoided the shutout by plating a pair of runs on a single by Chenard off Bulldog reliever Atwater in the bottom of the fifth.
Eldred and Smith led the Otsego offense, both going 2-for-3 with a double. Sallee singled twice.
The second game saw the Otsego offense pick up where it left off in the opener, plating five runs in the first inning. Ingold, Owen Watson, Smith and Ward each drove home a run on back-to-back-to-back-to-back two-out singles. Eldred scored the first run on a wild pitch after leading off with a single.
“We maintained very good discipline at the plate for the most part,” Matt Eldred said. “We took the momentum from game one and carried it into game two. I was happy to see that we were able to maintain our focus for game two.”
Atwater finished 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI, while Eldred (2-for-2 with three runs and two RBI), Smith (2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI) and Sallee (2-for-4 with a double) also had multiple hits.
Ingold earned the victory with a three-inning start that included one run on one hit with one walk and three strikeouts. Ward worked a perfect fourth inning, striking out two.
Babbitt drove in Allegan’s lone run with a single in the second inning that chased home Elijah Leece, who drew a one-out walk.