Kevin Hutt, Tyler Jaeger and Jake Alexander aren’t usually in the starting lineup for Neuqua Valley, but the three players were there for Thursday’s Upstate Eight Valley Conference game.
All three took advantage of the opportunity, too, as Hutt scored two runs and had two RBI, Jaeger drove in two runs, and Alexander went 2-for-4 with a three-run triple to lead the host Wildcats to a 14-5 victory over East Aurora.
“I’m one of the guys that doesn’t play every day, but I still come out like everyone else and am [be] ready to play,” Alexander said. “We got some juniors who got a chance to play and that helps us out for next year and makes us look good going forward.”
Neuqua Valley (10-9, 6-5) jumped to a 5-1 lead in the top of the third inning. After scoring single runs in the first two innings, the Wildcats enjoyed a three-run burst, thanks to a sacrifice fly from Jaeger and a two-run single from Nolan Hicks (3-for-4, three RBI).
East Aurora (2-14, 0-11) hung with the Wildcats, though, and pulled to within 6-5 in the bottom of the fourth, getting a bases loaded walk from Anthony Pryor and a two-run double from Jose Tavizon (3-for-3, three RBI).
“Jose broke out of a slump and had that big double,” Tomcats coach Jerry Taulbee said. “But there were so many plays, at least a half-dozen, that we didn’t make. I know it’s cold and it’s windy but if we make those plays, it’s a different ballgame. It really is.”
The Tomcats committed six errors and allowed 10 hitters to reach via walk and being hit by pitch.
“It was a pretty tight game except for two innings,” Taulbee said. “The scoreboard doesn’t look as close as the ballgame, but I was encouraged by our overall effort.”
Neuqua Valley finally broke the game open with six runs in the top of the fifth. A drop on a routine sacrifice fly to center off the bat off Matt Gould should’ve been the second out. Then, a walk to Hutt and a single by Jaeger loaded the bases before Alexander blasted his triple to dead center.
“Coach always talks about doing something with two outs because that really gets people down,” Alexander said. “I just went up there and got my pitch and drove it.”
Ryan Waldinger picked up the victory. Neil Schneider provided 3.2 innings of scoreless relief, allowing just a pair of hits while striking out six.