Wildcats get a grip, edge Kenton Ridge

Riley Borders stood on the mound in the first inning Tuesday with cold hands, wondering whether he could grip the baseball well enough to throw strikes. But it didn’t take long for some natural antifreeze to flow into Borders’ fingers.

“Once the adrenaline kicks in, you’re good,” he said.

Borders was plenty good for six innings and led Springfield to a 3-2 nonconference baseball victory over visiting Kenton Ridge. Borders (1-1) allowed seven hits and didn’t have a strikeout, but he walked only one and minimized the damage of the Wildcats’ only error. Jeff Mefford struck out two in the seventh for the save.

“Riley threw six great innings on the mound, which we knew we would get from him,” Springfield coach Rob Cassell said. “Our pitching is good enough to keep us in every game as long as we can play defense.”

The Wildcats were coming off a 6-3 loss to Cincinnati Northwest on Saturday in which two throwing errors led to five unearned runs. So Cassell drilled his infield in the cold Monday.

“They came through,” Borders said. “We practiced hard and it was a major improvement.”

The Wildcats (1-1) took advantage in the fourth inning when two batters were hit by pitches and scored. The first one on a groundout by Mitchell Egger tied the score 1-1. Then sophomore third baseman Brandon Beegle lined a single to right for a 2-1 lead.

Kenton Ridge’s Jordan Goodfellow singled in a run in the fifth to tie the score 2-2. But Beegle came back for Springfield in the sixth with a one-out single and eventually scored on a bases-loaded walk to Derek Williams for the deciding run.

“Brandon Beegle had big, big hits for us,” Cassell said. “I almost DHed for him today. We were kind of up in the air about who we were going to DH for today. Thank God I didn’t.”

It was the hit batters – four in all – and the three walks surrendered by starter Patrick McCaughy, who worked four innings, and Justin Haerr (0-1) that bothered Cougars coach Aaron Shaffer.

“I was disappointed with our pitchers,” Shaffer said. “Way too many hit batters and walks and free bases, and that was the deciding factor. Just a sloppy game for us.”

Shaffer is concerned about the depth of his pitching staff because of the recent shoulder injury suffered by Kendall Colvin. Shaffer was counting on Colvin to be one of his top two starters alongside Michael Knotts. Shaffer said Colvin’s doctor has yet to determine whether the senior will be off the mound for a week or the entire season. Fortunately, Colvin can play first base and bat third. He was 2-for-3 against the Wildcats and knocked in the game’s first run in the third inning.

“We’ve got a lot of games coming up and very few arms, so we’re in kind of a tough spot,” Shaffer said. “Hopefully we can turn it around and get going before our conference starts.”

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