SOUTH WHITLEY – There weren’t any extra-base hits, but the Wawasee baseball team took what Whitko gave it in a 14-3 road win Thursday night in South Whitley.
Playing in the cold, rainy weather, Wawasee had 11 hits, but was also awarded 10 free bases via eight walks and two hit batters.
“We did everything well tonight,” Wawasee coach Brent Doty said. “We (didn’t swing) at pitches when they weren’t finding the strike zone there for a while. We were real patient. When we did get our pitch, we drove it.”
Of their 14 runs, 10 were earned, with one being scored on a passed ball and another on a wild pitch.
Playing their third game in three days, the Wildcats’ pitching staff was limited, as ace Ethan Nicodemus got the start Wednesday at Southwood and No. 2 starter Tanner Gaff pitched in relief Tuesday at Triton, as well as Wednesday.
“Right now, we’re about two pitchers deep,” Whitko coach Erik Hisner said. “We’re struggling to find a 3 and 4 consistently. With Tanner throwing about 35 pitches on Tuesday and around 55-60 on Wednesday, we weren’t going to bring him back. Then, Ethan was on four days rest and threw about 55 in his start. So, we were a little thin.”
Whitko did go through four pitchers, with sophomore Riley Anderson getting the start, going five innings, giving up seven runs, but only three were earned.
The start was Anderson’s first action of the season, as he had to sit out the team’s first 14 games.
“In your first start out, you’re going to struggle with some things, but I thought he gave us five pretty decent innings,” Hisner said. “At least he bridged the gap so we didn’t have to burn up our entire staff.”
Following Anderson, Hisner went to three different relievers, but no matter who he put in, Wawasee senior Nate Hare was hard to keep off the basepaths, going 4 for 5 with three RBIs.
Along with Hare, juniors Bailey Hershberger and Bailey Yoder each had two hits, with three other Warriors also getting a single.
“Hopefully the bats stay alive,” Doty said. “They’ve been kind of hit and miss, but hopefully we can get on a roll.”
Senior Patrick Navarro got the win for Wawasee, going 4-2/3 innings, allowing two runs, although neither was earned.
Like Whitko’s staff, free passes were a concern for Wawasee, as the Wildcats mustered three hits, but were walked eight times and hit once.
Despite the baserunners, Whitko could only get three across home plate and none of them were earned runs, with two scoring on passed balls.
The win is just Wawasee’s second in its last nine games, and one that showed some mental toughness, considering the blankets and umbrellas being used in the stands.
“They knew they needed to be focused,” Doty said of his guys. “The bus ride over here was good. They were focused, once we got about halfway. I didn’t really need to say anything. They know they need to come out focused no matter what the weather is.”
Whitko has also had some recent struggles, dropping four of its past five games after getting off to an 8-2 start.
“We’re not playing great, but we’re also playing better competition,” Hisner said. “We’ve seen some better arms, and we just need to find a way to play consistently well.”
Of its four recent losses, three have come against fellow Sectional 21 squads, including West Noble (12-11), Lakeland (5-1) and now Wawasee.
“Right now, we’re 0-3 against possible sectional opponents,” Hisner said. “We talked about West Noble, Lakeland and now Wawasee, these are games that even though they’re non-conference, you should be ready to get out there and set the tone early for sectional. (Winning the sectional) is one of our big goals and we haven’t played well against sectional opponents. That is a concern that we’re going to need to figure out.”
Whitko’s next chance to straighten things out will be Saturday’s home doubleheader against Southern Wells, while Wawasee is in Northern Lakes Conference action tonight at home against Goshen.

Wa    003    311    6    –    14    11    1
Wh    010    101    0    –    3    3    6
Wawasee – Patrick Navarro (W, 4-2/3IP, 2R, 0ER, 2H, 2K, 4BB), Jordan Currie (5, 2/3IP, 1R, 0ER, 0H, 0K, 3BB), Lucas Garza (6, 1-2/3IP, 0R, 1H, 2K, 1BB, 1HB) and Bailey Hershberger.
Whitko – Riley Anderson (L, 5IP, 7R, 3ER, 7H, 2K, 4BB, 1HB), Avery Robbins (6, 1IP, 1R, 0ER, 9H, 1K, 1BB), Tanner Hughes (7, 2/3IP, 6R, 6ER, 1H, 1K, 3BB, 1HB), Austin Sturgess (7, 1/3IP, 0R, 2H, 0K, 0BB) and Seth Patrick.
2B – Garrett Smiley (Wh).
Records: Wawasee 5-8, Whitko 9-6.