SMNW goes 1-2 at River City Baseball Festival
LAWRENCE — Usually when a team that uses only three pitchers for three games gives up zero unearned runs and scores nine runs, it’s safe to say they’ve won all three.
That was not the case for the Shawnee Mission Northwest baseball teams as it was only able to grab one victory out of three at the River City Baseball Festival.
The weekend started off rough for the Cougars as they face off against one of the most highly touted pitching prospects in the area in Blue Valley West senior Collin Wiles.
The Thursday afternoon matchup was a duel between two quality pitchers, showing off stuff that even had jaws dropping among the dozen major league scouts on hand.
SM Northwest has been a group of consistent hitters throughout this year, but might have run into one of the best pitching prospects in the local area has seen.
Wiles mowed down the Cougars lineup, allowing only two hits while striking out 17 batters, including 11 of the last 12 in Blue Valley West’s 1-0 win over SM Northwest.
At points throughout the game, Wiles clocked 89 on a variety of the radar guns pointed his way by scouts, but his spot-on location is what had scouts and spectators alike drooling.
“He’s best kid we’ve seen all year by far, but 1-0 it could of gone either way,” SM Northwest coach Rich Kuzydym said. “You never know. Those are games that you enjoy, and coaching with your players.”
SM Northwest’s senior pitcher Ty Thompson put together what he called his best performance of the year, allowing only one unearned run in his six innings of work that included one walk and nine strikeouts.
“I couldn’t ask for much more,” Thompson said. “I did well, but just couldn’t come out on top this time.”
The Cougars attempted to make a late charge when senior first basemen Mack Preston ripped a triple into the right field gap with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Unfortunately for Northwest, Wiles bared down and struck out Thompson swinging to end the game.
“He manages his curve ball very well. He can pinpoint every time,” Thompson said. “We had no clue what was coming at us.”
Thompson also faced Wiles at the plate three times Thursday and was a strikeout victim twice. In their second matchup on Friday, the Cougars were blanked again by St. James senior Matt Eckelman, who posted a one-hitter.
For SM Northwest, senior Marcus McNeace pitched a complete game, also allowing the lone Thunder runner to cross the plate in the third inning.He finished the game with four hits, two walks and four strikeouts to his credit. Fortunately in the third matchup, the Cougars’ bats came alive when they posted nine runs over the third through five innings.
“We knew we were going to face the aces this weekend,” SM Northwest senior Chase Rader said. “It felt really good to get some hits this game.”
SM Northwest posted a one-hitter of its own against Bishop Ward. Chase Rader, mainly the team’s shortstop, struck out 14 batters while only walking four batters, with three of them coming in the first inning. Rader also had his bat working, going 3-for-4 against the Cyclones’ array of pitchers.
“I’m glad they battled back, and we talked about that,” Kuzydym said. “Learn from what’s in the past and then you apply it, once we start getting back to it.”
Now with an assortment of pitching experience the Cougars hope they can put together a balanced attack to hopefully be contenders in May.
“We’ve got a good group and they’ll stick together,” Kuzydym said. “They have some opportunities to play well all the way through.”