Henry Clay baseball coach Jordan Tarrence doesn't have to study statistics to figure out why his Blue Devils have struggled this season.
"We don't score many runs, and we give up way too many runs," he said.
So Tarrence was pretty happy with his team's 13-2 five-inning mercy-rule victory over 42nd District rival and host Sayre on Thursday.
Henry Clay (9-17) erupted for seven runs in the first inning. "That's more than we normally score in a whole game," Tarrence said.
He wasn't exaggerating. The Devils are averaging just under five runs.
But they rattled their bats against Sayre freshman Michael Flora, sending 11 batters to the plate in the first.
Henry Clay leadoff man David Salyers had two hits in the inning, including a two-run triple. Ben Elsen, Justin Warren, Brad Pollard and Aaron McGeorge also had hits, with Warren, Pollard and McGeorge collecting RBI.
The damage was done, although the Devils would put up six more runs on only two hits (and five Sayre errors).
Sayre Coach Scott Sutton thought the disastrous first inning "deflated" his Spartans. leading to a lack of concentration and lots of misplays.
Pollard provided the final stroke for Henry Clay by smacking his first career homer in the fifth.
Devils senior right-hander Ian Hays was the benefactor of the onslaught. He went five innings, scattering seven hits, three walks and getting six strikeouts..
Talking about Henry Clay, Tarrence said he has seen "glimpses of a really good team," but he's been frustrated by its lack of consistency.
"We're in almost every game, but we just make too many mistakes," he said. "And our pitching hasn't been as good as it should've been. We (graduated) 10 seniors last year, and six of them pitched. We lost guys who could come in and get outs."
Hays, a consistent winner on the mound last season, has been a pretty reliable arm this year. "He's good enough if he throws strikes and challenges hitters, he could be one of the best pitchers in the city," Tarrence said.
Hays, like his coach, has seen glimpses of the Devils' being a dangerous team.
"We have all the pieces. It's just a matter of putting it all together," he said. "It's like you'll have games where your offense and defense are on, but the pitching isn't there. Or games where the offense is killing the ball and the pitching is there, but you can't field a ground ball. I firmly believe if we put everything out there, we can beat anybody."
"We can't seem to catch many breaks this year," he said. "We all know we can do it. It's just a matter of executing like we did today."
Sayre came into the game thinking it could end a seven-year, 19-game losing streak against the Devils. But it didn't happen. The Spartans' offense was OK — Flora, Aidan Elias and Mason Jasko had two hits apiece — but their pitching and defense were shaky.
"We'd been playing well, and (Flora) was coming off back-to-back two-hitters," Sutton said. "But give Henry Clay credit. (Flora's) out pitch all year has been his change-up, and Henry Clay hit it just well enough to get it where it needed to be."
HENRY CLAY 13, SAYRE 2
Henry Clay704 11—13 9 1
Sayre 000 11— 2 7 5
Ian Hays and Trevor Hammonds, Mason Womack (4). Michael Flora, Mason Stockham (3) and John Van Balen. HR--Brad Pollard (HC). 3B--David Salyers (HC). 2B--Pollard (HC), Ben Elsen (HC), Justin Warren (JC), Aidan Elias (S).
Records--Henry Clay 9-17; Sayre 16-8
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337 Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com