Considered to be a complicated game at times, baseball becomes very simplistic when you can pitch and pick up the ball frequently.
Just look at the respective afternoons that both Lake Park and Neuqua Valley went through on Saturday.
Bolstered by receiving complete games from both Christian Taugner and Mark Pall, Lake Park made a resounding statement by traveling to Neuqua Valley and sweeping its doubleheader with the defending Upstate Eight Valley 8-2 and 13-2.
The Brown-bound Taugner set the tone for the Lancers’ win in Game 1 by going the entire way and allowing just two runs on four hits while striking out seven.
“It was just nice to get a good lead and then come out and throw,” said Taugner, who improved his record to 3-1 on the year while going 2-for-4 with two RBI at the plate in Game 1 for good measure. … “I think my curveball was really working well with this cross wind. It made it move even more and just my fastball — I was hitting my spots and they seemed to be chasing it, too.”
Committing six errors in Game 1, the Wildcats’ defense didn’t provide Cody Coll much support as three errors led to four first-inning runs for the Lancers.
Coll (1-2) went five innings and gave up eight runs, two of them earned, on six hits while striking out four.
In Game 2, it was the three runs Lake Park (11-2, 2-0 Upstate Eight Valley) tallied in the first inning against Wildcats’ senior right-hander David Gerber that immediately set the tone in an eventual rout for the Lancers.
The Creighton-bound Gerber (3-1) went five innings and gave up five hits on seven hits while fanning six, while suffering the first loss of his high school career.
Anthony Gallina accounted for two of the six hits Gerber gave up as Gallina doubled in his first two at-bats against Gerber in Game 2, finishing the game 4-for-4 with five RBI for the Lancers, who peppered three Wildcat pitchers to the tune of 14 hits.
“I mean, (Neuqua Valley) threw two good pitchers at us (Saturday) and we just came out hot,” said Gallina, who went a combined 6-for-8 with five RBI and four runs scored in the two games. “I was locked in. I think everyone was locked in. We’ve been practicing real hard and we’re hungry to win a conference championship.”
While Lake Park’s offense did a number on Wildcats’ pitching in Game 2, Pall kept the Wildcats’ offense at bay, in much the same fashion Taugner did.
Running his record on the year to 3-0, the Valparaiso-bound Pall allowed just two runs, one earned, on four hits while fanning six.
“Mark is now 3-0 for us on the year. He’s a darn good pitcher,” Lake Park coach Dan Colucci said. “He’s having a real good comeback year. So I like our combination. I like our combination of pitchers. That’s what we’ve really been doing well this season — pitching and playing good defense.”
Scoring a combined four runs on just eight hits over the course of two games, coupled with the defensive miscues in Game 1, it would be an understatement to say not much went right for Neuqua Valley (9-5, 1-2 Upstate Eight Valley).
But Wildcats’ coach Robin Renner knows it’s a marathon and not a sprint that lies ahead.
“It was certainly a very unique day for our team. This … I didn’t expect it to happen and I don’t expect it to happen again,” he said. “But it certainly isn’t going to define us one way or the other. I can promise you that the winner of our conference is going to have more than two losses. So we’ll just keep going at it.”