Ryan Scott seemed non-committal about which aspect of baseball he liked more — the pitching part or the hitting part.
His single and double at the plate on Friday during Free State High’s 2-1 victory against Blue Valley Northwest indicated it could be the hitting.
His four innings of shutout ball as the team’s starting pitcher suggested maybe the pitching.
“I actually liked the double better,” Scott said. “But pitching’s always fun.”
So, too, was what transpired on his other hit at the dish.
Scott’s sharp single to right in the bottom of the sixth scored second baseman Tyler Hatesohl, capping a two-run inning and sending the Firebirds home happy with a come-from-behind victory in the team’s season-opener.
Scott wasn’t on the mound by the end to earn a decision, but his base knock allowed Firebirds pitcher Cody Kukuk to pick up the victory at Ice Field.
All this after Free State managed just two hits in the first five innings and fell behind, 1-0, in the top of the sixth.
“What I appreciate most is the kids hanging with it,” Free State coach Mike Hill said. “They see some adversity, they go down, 1-0, in the sixth, yet they come right back with two. That’s a little bit of a pressure situation early in the season, and they did a good job.”
Hill rotated four pitchers onto the mound — Scott, Rob Wagner, Hayden Emerson and Kukuk — in an effort to create some bullpen depth as the season progresses.
All four pitchers worked quickly and effectively, combining for nine strikeouts and 11 groundouts. The only other out came courtesy of Firebirds catcher Cody Oller, who threw out Huskies second baseman Blake Heenan trying to steal second.
“It makes it boring out in the outfield because we’re not getting any action out there,” center fielder Camren Torneden joked.
Torneden’s speed on the basepaths caused fits for BV Northwest. Although technically he didn’t register an at-bat, Torneden walked all three times he appeared at the plate and advanced to third twice on passed balls.
His third walk proved to be the most significant.
With the Firebirds trailing by one in the bottom of the sixth, Torneden reached first base on a walk and alertly scampered to second when the ball reached the backstop.
“Having his speed there does make a huge difference,” Hill said. “He scores pretty easily there on a base hit.”
One batter later, Hatesohl singled to center to plate Torneden and tie the score at 1. Two batters later, Scott ripped the go-ahead single.
“We’re not a very good power team,” Scott said. “We had four hits today. I think this is what most of our games are going to be like, close one-run games.”