ELKHART – There was finally baseball in the NLC and while there was plenty of sunshine the cold was still a foe to be battled for pitchers as Plymouth took an 11-2 win to open their conference season at Elkhart Memorial.
It had been a week since the Pilgrims had been able to play a game thanks to Mother Nature, both teams had some dust to kick off as Charger starter Nolan Grose hit six batters and walked five more spotting Plymouth seven early runs that they scored with the benefit of just one hit.
Plymouth starter Jesus Luva was much sharper, but not quite as sharp as he may have wanted, going deep in counts, walking six of his own, but making crucial pitches at crucial times to go six innings and take his second win of the season in three starts. Jacob Deacon came on to pitch a scoreless seventh to close out the game.
“We walked more people than we wanted to tonight but he definitely is a competitor,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Wolfe of his starting pitcher, “That’s what I continued to preach in the dugout. It’s a cold night just keep competing. He got up there over 100 pitches which is probably not what we wanted but he was already warm and we didn’t want to try to get somebody else up.”
Luva struck out five and gave up just four hits in his longest outing of the year. Plymouth pitchers extending outings will be a sight that will likely repeat itself in the coming days as the weather has backed up the schedule. The Pilgrims will play nine games in the next 10 days and pitching will be at a premium.
“We probably won’t use him (Luva) again until Wednesday now and we keep our bullpen fresh because the way things are going the bullpen may turn into starters now,” said Wolfe.
Meanwhile the Pilgrim bats were rusty, but solid as they took advantage of Grose’s wildness early and they squared up some swings later to put up 11 runs on eight hits.
Deacon had a three RBI night, and catcher Jackson Lee and first baseman Noah Pesak had doubles for the Pilgrims. Pesak was two for three on the night and scored three times.
“When you couple some hit by pitches and walks it helps but we hit the ball well,” said Wolfe. “Even our outs were hit hard. We were talking in the dugout we can hit the ball hard one through nine and that’s what we preach making hard outs.”
The surge of Pesak in the middle of the order the past several games is a pleasant sight to the Pilgrims who are still short a few bats because of injuries. Jeremy Drudge continues to rehab his surgically reconstructed knee with an eye on a May return to the lineup. Earlier the Pilgrims lost Ezra Winkle for the season to a knee injury.
“I’m happy with the middle of our lineup,” said Wolfe. “We know he’s (Pesak) going to hit the ball hard but to see him have some success early is good to see.”
Plymouth (3-2) is in action again Friday at home against Warsaw and hits the road to LaPorte on Saturday.
•PLYMOUTH 11, ELKHART MEMORIAL 2
at Elkhart Memorial
Plymouth 2 1 3 2 0 3 0 11-8-0
Elk. Mem. 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 2-6-3
WP – Luva (2-1). LP – Grose. 2B – Lee (EM), Pesak (P), Lee (P).