Palmer’s one-hitter paces Royals to 7-1 BVC win


BLOOMDALE — There are a lot of firsts at Elmwood baseball — a first-year coach and the first season playing in the Blanchard Valley Conference.

First-year coach Matt Malecha is the seniors’ third coach in three years, and he has seven lettermen returning.

The Royals are off to a good start, defeating Huron in blistering cold weather, 5-1, in their season opebner on the Royals’ field before heading to South Carolina, where they won two of three games, defeating West Geauga, 8-1, and Centerburg, 14-4, but losing to Jackson, 16-3.

After returning to Northwest Ohio, Elmwood won its’ inaugural Blanchard Valley Conference game, defeating visiting Arlington, 7-1, in another game played in wind-chill adjusted temperatures below 40 degrees.

The win came behind the one-hit complete game pitching of Jimmie Palmer, allowing Elmwood to open the season 4-1. It was Palmer’s second complete-game victory of the young season.

“I thought our guys were ready to play. It was a great start and Jimmie kind of set the one early for us on the mound,” Malecha said.

It helped that when Elmwood hired Malecha, they hired someone who had been in this situation before.

“I am the seniors’ third coach in three years, which to me is unique,” Malecha said. “The fact is it’s kind of nice because I’ve gone through that before when I took over at (Fremont) St. Joe my first year I was also their third coach in three years.

“I have experience with that, I guess, which has been an advantage to learn from some of the mistakes I first made.”

Malecha said in the win over Huron his Royals “looked the part.” After taking two of three playing mostly bigger schools on their spring trip, he can be even more confident.

“I really think we have a talented group of players, a lot of returning experience, and most importantly I think we have guys who are bought in and have put in a ton of work to get better,” Malecha said. “We’re really excited about a new chapter in Elmwood baseball, for sure.”

The unknown for Elmwood is playing a whole new set of teams in the BVC after playing mostly the same teams in the Northern Buckeye Conference and before that, the Suburban Lakes League, for over 50 years.

“The league is a little bit different, too, because you only play everybody once, which is unique for baseball,” Malecha said. “You usually play everybody at least twice. It allows for you have to have a deeper pitching rotation the more you play league games.

“But obviously Liberty-Benton was the team to beat last year and I expect them to have a really strong team.

“Riverdale has a Player of the Year (Evan Reiter) coming back. Elmwood has never faced him, but obviously his numbers speak for themselves and I know they have a big core around him for that whole team as well.

“Really, I think its one of those conferences that you have to show up every day and be ready to play. Familiarity-wise as far as those teams it is not like it was in the NBC as far as Elmwood is concerned.

“Obviously being my first year I’ve tried to look at every team, but teams can change pretty quickly year to year. We look at everybody on our schedule and definitely the BVC teams are going to be challenges night-in and night-out.”

On the mound, Jimmie Palmer got the win over Huron, striking out nine, walking four, allowing five hits and just one earned run in a complete-game victory. Palmer is one of three veteran pitchers in the starting rotation.

“I think pitching depth is definitely one of our strengths. Jimmie Palmer leads that rotation,” Malecha said.

“Jimmie returns a lot of experience from last year — he was their No. 1 last year, he threw the most innings for them last year. He definitely mixes pitches well and he knows what he is doing out there.”

In the Royals’ win over Arcadia Monday, Palmer had a no-hitter going into sixth inning, but Justin Rausch belted a double to left, stole second and scored the Red Devils’ only run. Palmer struck out 16 and he walked none, although he did hit one batter.

“Pretty much everything (was working),” Palmer said. “I really made it through the first three innings without throwing my curve ball, so that helped out a lot — just fastball and slider.

“Then second time through the lineup I started using my curveball and they were lost and didn’t find it. They didn’t see slider or curveball well, or the fastball. I was really blessed today. Everything was working out,” Palmer continued.

Malecha said. “It’s great when a pitcher like Jimmie goes out there and does what he did.”

Rausch was only the second Arlington batter to take the count to three balls, so for Palmer it was either give up his first walk or trust his defense, and Rausch took advantage.

“I knew I had a no-hitter, but I’m just trying to compete,” Palmer said. “We were a little bit out of position, but hey, he made a good swing and made it competitive.”

Elmwood put up five runs in the third inning as Luke Ambruster, Colton Bradford, Owen Simmons and Aidan Marsh had base hits — two were infield hits, which was better than trying to hit into the wind.

“A day like today we knew offensively we were going to have to score rather than hit the ball into the air because it wasn’t going to go anywhere,” Malecha said.

Kameron Kingery, who had four stolen bases, reached on an error, and Andrew Holland reached on a walk. Zachary Gross laid down a sacrifice bunt, seting up Marsh’s two-RBI base hit to right field.

Bradford led the offense, going 2-for-3, and Kingery reached on a walk, stole two bases, and scored in the first inning on a sacrifice fly to left by Holland.

Elmwood pinch-hitter Adan Alva reached on a walk in the sixth, and Cadyn Stewart, a starter who re-entered, advanced to second on a wild pitch, stole third, and scored on an infield error.

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