Perrysburg baseball rebuilding, but plans to contend

OREGON — It is not often that the Perrysburg baseball program finds itself in rebuilding mode. Usually the Yellow Jackets reload, but this year the program has plenty of new faces seeing varsity action.

There are a few familiar names, like senior pitchers Matt Hubbard and T.J. Takats on the roster, but there are plenty of new names, too.

Some of those players saw varsity action for the first time in a season opening 5-2 loss to Clay at the Oregon Recreation Center’s John Ousky Field Tuesday.

The Yellow Jackets return five letter winners, but coach Dave Hall says only three have significant varsity playing experience.

However, Hall believes it will only be a matter of time before they catch up to speed, so don’t count them out of anything, including the Northern Lakes League race.

“We have some young kids out there and I thought they played hard,” Hall said. “There are a lot of new names — we are babies out there.

“We only have three seniors, we have three sophomores starting, and in a couple weeks we are going to be a much better team than we are today. We’re learning.”

Clay starting hurler Jase Kennedy and reliever Anthony Barnes, both seniors, did a good job keeping the Yellow Jackets’ hitters at bay Tuesday.

Kennedy, through four innings, struck out three, walked two, and allowed three hits and one earned run. Barnes got the win after striking out five, walking three, allowing one hit and no earned runs through three innings.

“Once again, we have a nice deep pitching staff this year and I think we feel confident in our guys and putting them in spots,” said Clay coach Jim Phillips.

“Tonight, they made us look good. They came out, threw strikes, pounded the zone, and basically made Perrysburg earn what they got.”

Perrysburg started Hubbard, who struck out three, walked two, allowed five hits and no earned runs through four innings.

That’s why Hall likes to start the season against Clay because he knows what kind of pitching both teams will be facing to start the season.

“We like opening with them or Lake because we know we are going to see their No. 1, which is what we want to see,” Hall said.

“We didn’t see their No. 1 (ill), so that was their No. 2. They saw our No. 1 and I thought Matt threw decent for being two to three weeks removed from basketball. He had not thrown a lot. I thought we competed.”

Senior Kale Wilkins led the Eagles at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs, Kennedy was 2-for-3, and senior Ethan Stager had a base hit and two RBIs.

Clay seniors Christian Mays and Brendan Hazuda and junior Vinny Gallaher had one base hit apiece.

Clay, a little more experienced at the varsity level, has seven seniors, but Phillips, a Clay graduate who was a standout NCAA Division I player at Youngstown State University, will take a win over Perrysburg anytime.

“Anytime you can get a win against them it is a big accomplishment,” Phillips said.

“A well-coached team, traditionally really good and obviously this year they are a really good team again, so to start the season off against them and play well like we did, I’m pleased — not satisfied, but pleased.”

For the Yellow Jackets, Hubbard reached on a walk, had a sacrifice fly and two RBIs and lead-off hitter Trent Bezak reached on all four plate appearances. Bezak, the third baseman, had a base hit, stolen base, run, and walked three times.

Catcher Quinn Weber had a base hit and stolen base, center fielder Braxton Mefford had a base hit, and shortstop Connor Kessinger had a base hit and reached on an error while placing a sacrifice bunt.

Perrysburg pinch hitter Carter Stanton reached on a walk, and right fielder Nick Oros scored Perrysburg’s second run in the fifth inning, which tied the game at 2-2.

Clay scored the winning two runs in the bottom of the fifth when Wilkins led off with a base hit, Hoersten reached on a walk, Kennedy singled to load the bases, and Stager belted a two-RBI single to right field, scoring Wilkins and Hoersten.