WADSWORTH — Wadsworth has been exceptional at home dating back to late last season, but that wasn’t the case Tuesday.
Highland’s offense struck from the first pitch and never slowed down in a 15-0 Suburban League blowout that lasted six innings.
Both teams trail Nordonia by two games in the SL standings with three games to play.
All-Gazette right-hander Jacob Pries (5-2) pitched efficiently, forcing nine groundouts and striking out five to hand the Grizzlies (18-4, 8-3) their second home loss in their last 14 games. Pries threw only 68 pitches (52 strikes) and held Wadsworth to three hits.
“My approach is always the same: Go out and throw strikes, pound the zone, keep the ball low and let my guys behind me make plays,” Pries said. “That’s the approach every day. You’ve got to throw strikes.”
Of the 23 batters Pries faced, only Jack Pecnik (2 singles) and Kyle Karaffa were able to find open spots in the field for base knocks.
“Jake’s really got good command of every pitch — fastball, curveball and a nice little changeup. He can throw all of them for strikes,” Highland coach Jay Grissom said. “He can mix speeds with all of them. He did a really good job of just keeping hitters off-balance all the time.”
Highland’s defense was extremely key to Pries’ successful day, making difficult plays when it had to and not committing an error. Wadsworth made six.
“There’s no word to describe how key (the defense) is in every win,” Pries said. “Whether it’s today or another day, it’s always key. When our defense shows up, we win ballgames, bottom line.”
The Grizzlies had Jeff Stover (2-2) on the mound Tuesday, but the senior struggled, as Highland connected almost immediately. By the time Stover exited in the fifth, the Hornets had jumped to an 8-0 lead, with a big part of it coming off the bat of Lake Erie recruit Luke Raley.
After already scoring two of his team’s first four runs, Raley cranked a two-run blast over the wall in right-center in the fourth.
“Luke always puts good swings on the ball. He always does,” Grissom said. “He always has a plan. He always gets in the box. He sits on pitches. He hits his pitches.”
Wadsworth will have an opportunity to avenge the loss, as it heads to Highland today for a 4:30 p.m. rematch.
“It gives us some momentum, but Wadsworth’s going to come out strong (today),” Pries said. “They’re going to play, and we’ve got to play like we did (Tuesday).”
Contact Matthew Doyle at email@example.com.