WADSWORTH — A 70-degree day on April Fool’s Day sounds like a sick joke, but Nick Bebout and the Wadsworth baseball team felt it was a thing of beauty.
The All-Gazette selection allowed two hits over six innings and the Grizzlies finally backed him late Tuesday, leading to a closer-than-it-appeared 6-0 Suburban League win over scrappy Cloverleaf.
Wadsworth (1-0, 1-0) made its long-awaited debut on the new field behind the high school after construction delays forced the Grizzlies to play at historic A.C. Field last season.
That debut was then pushed back further Saturday because of snow and Monday because of wet conditions, making the afternoon even more satisfying.
“It was nice we finally got out here,” Bebout said. “We didn’t have any scrimmages outside and we came out here. It took us awhile to get going, but we adjusted and did well.”
Bebout (1-0) made the wait worth it.
The hard-throwing right-hander was brilliant outside of a crushed double by All-Gazette center fielder Devin Cunningham — it likely would have been a home run if not for blistering wind — but promptly got out of the inning with a fielder’s choice and foul out to first.
Using a two-seam fastball low and in and a breaking pitch on the outside half, Bebout struck out seven of the first nine batters. The other hit he allowed, a single to Eddy Wagner, was erased quickly when catcher Adam Laikos and shortstop Riley Campbell teamed to nab Wagner stealing.
Bebout gave way to Cameron Deemer in the seventh after being staked to a 6-0 lead.
“I just went out there and tried to throw all my stuff,” Bebout said.
Gutsy Colts starter Kenny Wells (0-1) was every bit as good for four-plus innings. The senior righty took a two-hitter into the fifth before allowing three unearned runs and excelled at keeping the ball low, allowing his much-improved defense to take care of the rest.
“Kudos to him,” Cunningham said. “He was our ace today. Without him, we would have been out of this game long before we were.”
The pitcher’s duel ultimately came down to the first mistake, and Wadsworth took advantage in the fifth.
Mason Egleston led off with a single just under the outstretched glove of Cloverleaf first baseman Dillon Mullins. Adam Dennison then sacrificed Egleston, who stole third soon thereafter.
No. 8 hitter Greg Young attempted to bring in Egleston on a safety squeeze, but reached safely and Egleston scored when the throw to first was dropped by the second baseman.
That opened the floodgates, as Riley Campbell (groundout) and Adam Laikos (single) added RBIs before Wadsworth tacked on three more runs in the sixth off reliever Tyler Hall.
“We were making contact with the ball,” Egleston said. “We didn’t have a lot of strikeouts and we were putting it in play. Finally we got a couple lucky hits — hard-hit balls that got through — and were able to make something happen.”
A few things stood out even in a season opener. First, Wadsworth will ride Bebout, its defense and surprising team speed (3 stolen bases) instead of the powerful lineup that spearheaded a 22-5 record last season.
Meanwhile, the Colts (0-1, 0-1) showed they are hungry as they aim to at least double their four wins from a year ago.
“We’re going to come out with fire,” Cunningham said. “Every game we have a mindset that we’re a brand new Cloverleaf team.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.