Great Crossing’s first-ever home run Saturday afternoon inspired two more in the twilight. Likewise, the Warhawks’ initial win led to another.
GC hopes that doubleheader sweep at home — 12-8 over Conner, 15-5 in five innings against Woodford County — will have a contagious effect on week two and beyond.
“We made some mistakes, which is going to happen early in the season,” Great Crossing coach Greg Stratton said. “We’re getting there. We got that first one under our belts. Now we can settle down and play a little baseball.”
Zac Lyons’ two-run blast over the right field fence slapped an exclamation point on a four-run fifth inning in the opener, expanding a tenuous 4-3 lead.
“It felt pretty good,” Lyons said. “It was my first high school home run, and it was the first home run for Great Crossing too, so that was pretty cool.”
Lyons was the defensive star as well, throwing a strike to shortstop Grant Stewart that picked off Briggs Yeunger and ended a Conner rally in the sixth.
GC piled on four more runs in the sixth, with Beniam Bond and Jake Faherty supplying the key hits.
The onslaught continued in the nightcap. Woodford County, which gave up 22 runs in a mid-afternoon loss to Conner, was equally helpless to slow a Great Crossing attack that included home runs by Bond and Benner.
Benner’s grand slam was the centerpiece of a 10-run third.
“We kept telling the guys we just have to keep fighting and good things will happen,” said Stratton, whose Warhawks christened their inaugural season with losses to Boyle County and Mercer County.
Faherty and Benner each had five hits in the twin bill for Great Crossing, which banged out a total of 27 hits while allowing only 10. The two seniors combined for nine RBI. Each cranked a pair of doubles.
Lyons, Bond and Micah Mullins also had muli-hit games in the opener to back the steady performance of left-handed reliever Austin Meade, who held the Cougars to one earned run in his four innings.
“It wasn’t pretty at all, but we competed, and that was one of the main things,” Stratton said. “We kept plugging away, and good things happen when you swing the sticks.”
Sophomore starter Mullins struck out seven through three innings to guard GC’s initial lead of the season.
The Warhawks scored two in the second to take that advantage. Faherty singled, stole second, took third on an unsuccessful fielder’s choice and scored on a passed ball. Aidan Foster put GC in front with a double to the left field wall, scoring Lyons.
GC’s aggressiveness on the base paths paid more dividends in the third when Stewart reached base on a dropped third strike, stole second and raced home on Mullins’ single. Colin Nicholson later scored on a wild pitch.
“We preach that. We practice base running every day. We take the extra 90 (feet) when we can get it,” Stratton said. “I told the guys this morning, we want to have fun, and if you get on the bases, it’s a lot easier to have fun.”
Jonathan Scherff (3-for-4, RBI) and Yuenger (2-for-3, RBI) were repeat hitters for Conner, whose offense was mostly the product of six GC errors.
Eight walks were the only struggle for the Warhawks against the Yellow Jackets, who managed only one hit off the tandem of Logan Adkins and Caleb Morrison.
Bond and Benner’s book-end bombs led a seven-hit barrage in the third inning. Faherty contribnted a double.
Peyton Harris went 2-for-3 with two RBI in a spot start behind the plate to rest Lyons, who led off and served as a designated hitter to cap a busy week. Nicholson and Jacob Tirlea also each had two hits.
Thursday’s 18-8 loss to Mercer County, one in which Great Crossing kept fighting after falling in a 14-2 hole through an inning and a half, gave the Warhawks an unorthodox running start.
“It did set the tone for (Saturday),” Lyons said. “Coach Stratton had a talk with us yesterday about what we needed to do.”
Faherty overcome a rough start on the hill with a 3-for-4 night at the plate, including three RBIs.Benner (2-for-3, three runs scored, RBI), Faherty and Ben Lacy each legged out a triple against the Titans. Hank Williams chalked up an RBI single.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at email@example.com.