By Garth Shanklin
The Bethel-Tate Tigers entered their sectional tournament opener with Aiken on Monday, May 8 having not played in a game since falling to Felicity-Franklin 11-9 on Thursday, April 27. When the team took the field against the Falcons on a sunny Monday afternoon, they certainly didn’t look like a squad that hadn’t played for nearly two weeks.
The Tigers dominated, rolling to a 17-0 win in five innings against Aiken behind a trio of dominant pitchers. Bethel-Tate got the scoring started early, thanks in large part to RBI singles off the bat of Gabe Kilgore and Dallas Kaylor, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead in the first inning. The team nearly added to that margin, but a snag of a line drive to second base and a dive back to the bag by the Aiken second basemen resulted in an inning-ending double-play.
The Tigers worked around a pair of walks issued by starter John Day in the top of the second. In the bottom of the inning, Bethel-Tate’s lead jumped to 5-0 thanks to a three-run double off the bat of Dylan Whisman. Day helped himself with a single, scoring Whisman to make it 6-0 Bethel-Tate. Kilgore added another RBI on a groundout that scored Day for a 7-0 Tiger lead.
Bethel-Tate’s offensive explosion continued in the bottom of the third. A hit batter, steal, sacrifice bunt and an Aiken throwing error resulted in a run for the Tigers and resulted in a runner on third. That runner scored on a wild pitch, giving Bethel-Tate a 9-0 lead.
Whisman knocked in Griffin Reinert for a 10-0 Tiger lead, and Whisman scored one batter later for an 11-0 margin.
By this point, the Tigers had turned to their bench, and pinch-hitter Tyler Burke ripped an RBI base hit into left-center for a double and a 12-0 Bethel-Tate lead. The Tigers scored five more runs in the bottom of the fourth to account for their 17 runs in the game.
Head coach Dion Pangallo said his team played better as the season wore on and the players got experience at their positions.
“Our kids have matured through the year, they’re doing a great job on both sides of the ball,” Pangallo said.
The Tigers were able to turn to hitters off the bench later in the game, and they produced. Pangallo said the team’s ability to take an early lead helped get those players into the game and provided them valuable varsity experience.
“Our older kids, who had a lot of innings earlier in the year, blossomed as we got into the first few innings,” Pangallo said. “Once we got to the later innings, we had a substantial lead, we were happy to have that. We were able to get some of the younger players in to improve them for future years.”
The team’s win in dominating fashion is made all the more impressive given the length of time between games for the Tigers. Pangallo said the team continued to practice hard in the gym during the break.
“We’ve been practicing really hard,” Pangallo said. “The boys have really had some great efforts working in the gym, getting everything ready to go and keeping our hitting effective.”
The game also served as senior day for Bethel-Tate, with the Tigers saying goodbye to a trio of seniors: Jake Stolz, Austin Veve and Joe Baker.
“They’re great kids,” Pangallo said. “We’ll miss them next year, but hopefully they go on to have great success in their future endeavors.”
The team’s seniors have not yet played their final home game, however. With the victory, Bethel-Tate were scheduled to host Clark Montessori in their second-round game on Wednesday, May 10, weather permitting. The Bethel-Tate softball team also has a home game scheduled for May 10 against the Ripley Lady Jays. The Lady Tigers drew a first-round bye in sectional play.
If the boys’ team wants to reach the sectional championship, Pangallo said there are a few things the team must do.
“We have to keep consistent hitting the ball, pitching well and that’ll give us a chance to move on to the next game, hopefully,” Pangallo said.