By Dave Morrison
CLEAR FORK – Wyoming East coach Ron “Chief” Mayhew had just seen his team beat rival Westside 13-1 Wednesday. It was more than just a win over a county rival, which is always a big thing. It also marked the 400th win the program’s history.
His response was typical.
“Since it’s today it means a lot, but the only game that counts is tomorrow,” said Mayhew, the only coach the program has had. “If you live on your past you don’t have a future.”
Mayhew doesn’t put much stock in numbers outside of those that help his teams victories. After starting the program at Pineville in the 1970s, Mayhew is close to 900 career victories.
On Wednesday, Matt Caldwell struck out 10 and limited Westside to four hits – three in the second inning – and Chris Harvey and McQuade Canada scored four runs each as the Warriors improved to 7-2.
Wyoming East has long maintained consistency under Mayhew and his staff, averaging just under 20 wins a season. The Warriors won the Class AA state championship in 2012.
The players were amazed when assistant Keven Hedinger announced the news that it was win No. 400.
The players said the number was about their coach as much as anything.
“That’s amazing,” Harvey said of the 400th win. “I had no idea. I think it’s a great program to be in. You come around here you’ve got all these great coaches teaching you things. Before I came here I couldn’t hit the ball. But Chief, he taught me how to hit.”
“It means a lot but that’s all on Chief,” Caldwell said. “Chief’s been here. He knows what to do. He knows how to win. Obviously it shows. I’m just going to give a lot of credit to him. He helps us with everything we do.”
The Warriors wasted little time getting started, plating two in the first.
Harvey led off the game with a walk and Canada followed with a single. They both advanced a base on an error on the play. Eric Hoosier’s sacrifice fly scored Hoosier. The throw beat Harvey to the plate but he was able to elude the tag.
“I saw the ball was there, that he (Westside catcher Spencer Kenney) caught it,” Harvey said. “I was thinking ‘I need to get down or he’s going to tag me.’ So I just dove on the ground and slid and got in.”
Canada later scored on a groundout by Clay Lester.
In the second the Warriors added four more. Chase York doubled, plating Dylan Repass, who singled and scored. After a strikeout and another walk to Harvey, Canada drove in a run with a single and Hoosier scored Harvey and Canada with a base hit.
Harvey and Canada scored twice more. In fact, the first five Warriors who drew walks scored in the game and three others who reached on an error scored.
“We’ve been prone to those all year,” Westside coach Jeremy Warrix said. “We’re probably averaging three or four of those a game. We’re trying to find the chemistry in the field right now. It’s not just one or two players, it’s been multiple players, outfield and infield and it’s really hurting us right now. If you are averaging a walk per inning or two or three errors a game, you’re giving an huge advantage to the hitting team. You can’t do that and win.”
The Warriors leadoff hitter reached base in four of five innings Wednesday and all four scored.
“Whenever the leadoff man gets on he scores 70 percent of the time,” Mayhew said. “It’s very important to get on. With Harvey and McQuade and some of these guys behind them, we feel if we get them on base we’re going to score some runs.”
Harvey, a former No. 9 hitter who has moved to the leadoff spot, agreed.
“It’s important to get the momentum for the team,” Harvey said. “That first batter up there sets the tone. If you make an out, everybody is down, the momentum is killed. You get on base and you set it up for the other hitters on the team. You get a lead on a team in the first inning, it’s great.”
The two runs in the first was more than enough the way Caldwell was dealing.
The righty finished as well as he started, striking ground out the side in the first and fifth innings. He threw just 70 pitches, but 52 were for strikes.
“I usually start slow and then pick it up at the end (of the game),” Caldwell said. “Usually I’m wishing I could start the game at the end of the game. We’re really ready to pitch (a complete game) early in the year. Chief has us ready. I felt like my curve was really working today.”
The win was the fifth straight for Wyoming East.
Wyoming East 13, Westside 1
Wyoming East 240 52 – 13 6 1
Westside 010 00 – 1 4 6
Battery – WE: Matt Caldwell and Eric Hoosier. W: Bradie Vance, Ethan Blackburn (4), Elijah Perdue (5) and Spencer Kenney. WP – Matt Caldwell 70 pitches, 52 strikes. 5.0 IP 4H 1R 1ER 1BB 10Ks. LP – Bradie Vance 84 pitches, 48 strikes, 3.0 IP 5H 10K 6ER 4BB 5K. Hitting – WE: Chris Harvey 1-2 (4 runs), McQuade Canada 2-4 (4 runs, RBI), Eric Hoosier (run, RBI), Brandon Simpson (run, RBI), Clay Lester 1-2 (2 RBI), Matt Caldwell 1-3 (2 RBI), ALex Hall (RBI), Dylan Repass (run), Chase York 1-2 (run), Jared Sandy (run), W: Ethan Blackburn 1-2 (RBI), Hunter Lester 1-2 (run), Tyler Cameron 1-2, Logan Vance 1-2.