Will Cantrell didn’t have sand between his toes, but he was still seeing beach balls Friday night at Patrick Ramsey Field. The senior slugger hit a pair of home runs to lead the Pioneers to an 8-2 victory over Station Camp.
It was the fourth straight win for Warren County, which has bounced back nicely since losing nine straight. The Pioneers are now 7-12 overall, much owed to the team’s recent power surge.
Brooks Helton also connected on a two-run home run Friday, extending a streak of 11 straight plate appearances with a hit. Helton’s streak reached 12 with an RBI single in the fourth inning against the Bison before he was retired for the first time in over a week in the sixth.
Helton’s streak was the talk going into the contest, but Cantrell left his home field Friday looking for a pair of souvenirs. It was Cantrell’s first time hitting two home runs in a game, though it may not be his last if pitchers keep challenging the big first baseman with fastballs.
“I was seeing mostly fastballs and I’ve always been taught to hammer fastballs on the first pitch if it’s there,” said Cantrell. “I had confidence going to the plate and just hammered it.”
Cantrell’s first home run came just five pitches after Helton put the Pioneers on the board in the third inning with a blast to centerfield. Cantrell came up again in the sixth inning and sat on another fastball, again depositing it over the left-field fence.
The long balls surrounded Ethan Smith’s two-run double in the fourth, part of a three-run frame which lifted Warren County to a 6-0 advantage. Smith added a sac fly in the sixth to cap the Pioneer scoring.
The Bison didn’t get on the board until the seventh inning. Brandon Hennessee, pitching for the first time since tearing his ACL during football season, surrendered a late home run during three innings of solid relief.
Kason Holder earned the win, pitching into the fourth inning without allowing a run. Holder had three strikeouts while allowing four hits and walking four. Heath Kuykendall got the final two outs.
Continued on 2B
A week of wins was a big change for the Pioneers, who fell to 3-12 last Saturday following a pair of walk-off losses in the Warrior Classic. Coach Trice Powers never lost faith in his team during the skid and the collective confidence flowing through the roster seems to be shining now.
“Even though things weren’t going well, the team was still playing with confidence. Eventually, you’ll come out of it because the kids are too good to stay in a rut,” said Powers. “The law of averages is going to turn around with the caliber of kids we have. They’ve kept grinding.”
Helton and Cantrell carrying the offense with game-breaking power doesn’t hurt the cause.
“It makes it easier. When they’re hot and things are going good, you don’t have to do a whole lot,” said Powers. “Those guys can do some different things, but the ability they have to run it out of the ball park makes us multi-dimensional.”
The Pioneers played two more games Saturday at home, facing McMinn County and Goodpasture. Results were unavailable at press time. Check the Standard website for details.