Warren East opens season with 2-0 win over Franklin-Simpson
Warren East and Franklin-Simpson were in a scoreless battle for four innings, but Ty Stringfield came through for the Raiders on Thursday evening at Raider Ballpark.
With the scoreboard reading many zeros, the senior shortstop sent the third pitch of his at-bat over the wall in right center to record the game’s first run and gave East a 1-0 lead entering the fifth inning.
“He got in the jetstream a little bit, but he made a good adjustment,” Warren East coach Wes Sanford said of Stringfield’s homerun. “The time before, I think he was looking away and got a pitch in and just swung at it. This time he waited and got something out of it.”
The solo shot by Stringfield – or “Stringy,” as his coaches and teammates call him – along with a stellar performance by Ryan Hawks and a breakout night for Nolan Ford led the Raiders (1-0 overall) to a 2-0 win on Opening Night.
“I was really pleased with my guys,” Sanford said. “We’ve been preaching all offseason that we’re gonna win with pitching and defense, and we threw strikes tonight. Offensively, hopefully we’ll catch up.”
Prior to Stringfield’s blast, there had only been three hits recorded on the night – and Warren East only had one of those – as the freshman Ford singled in the bottom of the first inning.
The Raiders were able to hold Franklin-Simpson’s lethal offense scoreless behind the arm of the Louisville commit Hawks, who allowed just one hit with nine strikeouts in four complete innings. Dakota Basham relieved Hawks and only allowed a hit with a pair of strikeouts of his own, while Corey Skaggs closed with a pair of Ks himself.
“It’s a great way to start our year,” Hawks said. “We had redemption on our minds after (losing to Franklin) last year in the Region Tournament. So, I know for us returners we had a goal and we wanted to come out and really prove a message to start the year.”
Along with Stringfield, Hawks and Ford’s big outings in their season debuts, Colson Elkins also tallied a hit for East. Ford led the way for Warren East by going 2-for-3 and scoring a run.
Cole Heinze went 2-for-3 for the Wildcats (0-2) – the defending Region 4 champions – while Zach Sliger allowed three hits and a run to go along with four Ks in 5.0 innings pitched.
“Offensively, we’re not very good at the moment,” Franklin-Simpson coach Kyle Gammons said. “We’re really struggling at the plate. 15 strikeouts last night (at Bowling Green), 13 strikeouts tonight – that’s not going to get the job done. Zach did a good job tonight and gave us a chance to win.”
Franklin-Simpson returns to action on Friday in a 5:30 p.m. road game at Glasgow. Warren East will host Campbellsville at Noon Saturday.
After Warren East used Stringfield’s homer to take a 1-0 lead, Franklin-Simpson tried to answer, but a pair of Wildcats were stranded after reaching on walks in the top of the sixth as Basham didn’t allow a single hit in the frame – and closed it by striking out Quentin Kitchens.
“That was pretty big,” Hawks said of his teammate’s homer. “Really proud of him. He’s put a lot of work in over the offseason, too. Obviously, he proved that.”
Ford came up big again for East in the bottom half of the inning, hitting a single to the second base area to give the Raiders a runner with no outs. Hawks – this time as a batter – came through with an RBI sacrifice bunt to score Ford and push the Raiders’ lead to 2-0 entering the seventh.
“Nolan’s gonna be a tough player,” Sanford said. “He doesn’t realize his ability yet. He does a good job of just going out and playing, and that’s the thing that’s making him good right now. He’s going to be really good if he continues to listen and work and be a really good talent for us.”
Skaggs pitched the final frame for Warren East, and it was able to keep Franklin-Simpson from ever getting on the board as it closed a season-opening victory.
“We had some younger guys step up,” said Hawks. “Nolan Ford did a really good job today. We’re looking forward to our young guys stepping up and filling a big role from what we lost last year.”