By Josh Hall/For OzarksSportsZone.com
The Stockton High School baseball team got its offense going early.
The Tigers’ pitching staff took over from there.
Stockton tallied 14 hits and three pitchers combined to allow six hits and strike out 11 as the Tigers rolled to a 13-2 victory against Morrisville on Thursday.
“We all play really well as a team,” Stockton senior Brice Bird said. “I’m confident this year. I think we are going to win a lot of ballgames.”
Stockton (2-1) had some key pieces to replace entering the season after losing seven starters from last year’s team that went 23-4.
So far, the Tigers have risen to the challenge.
“I like what I’ve seen,” Stockton coach Darin Henderson said. “We’ve done a really good job competing and stepping into roles. We’re off to a good start. We’re not where we need to be by any stretch, but we’ve been playing okay.”
The Tigers had six players with multiple hits and four with multiple runs driven in.
Bird led the offensive attack, going 2-for-4 with a home run, a triple and four RBIs. Connor Brown had three hits and drove in three runs to help pace Stockton at the plate.
“We sat back on the ball well,” Bird said. “We didn’t try to jump out and just crush the ball.”
Swinging for the fences was a concern for Henderson after Jacob Wheeler led off the game with a home run to right field. Stockton also couldn’t help but notice the smaller dimensions of the field at Morrisville, to go along with a steady win blowing to right-center field.
But the Tigers stuck to their game plan, and it produced successful results.
“I told them, ‘we’re not going up there trying to hit home runs. We’re going up there trying to do what we do – hit baseballs hard up the middle,’” Henderson said. “I thought all night long we had a good approach at the plate.”
Wheeler, who was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, picked up the win after allowing two runs and five hits, while striking out eight and walking one in 3 and 2/3 innings. Wheeler left the game after reaching 72 pitches. The junior is slated to pitch again next week.
Haden Farell didn’t allow a run or a hit in 1 and 1/3 innings of relief. Clayton Hubbard gave up one hit in two innings and struck out three to close out the game for Stockton.
“I thought they did a really good job,” Henderson said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can throw strikes. That’s a good problem to have.”
Morrisville (1-2) struggled in that category.
“We didn’t execute a lot of our pitches on the mound tonight,” Panthers coach Justin Crumpley said. “We were behind in the count pretty consistency. It was vise-versa with (Stockton). They were ahead of our hitters all night long. Hat’s off. That’s a really good team.”
Like Stockton, Morrisville brings in several newcomers this season after losing four starters from last year’s team that won 17 games.
“We made a lot of mental mistakes today,” Crumpley said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys in some spots. They’re just going to have to get some experience pretty fast. But this is a really hard-working group, and I think they’re going to continue to grow – learn from the mistakes of this game.”
STOCKTON 13, MORRISVILLE 2
Stockton – 4-3-0-0-1-2-2 – 13
Morrisville – 1-0-1-0-0-0-0 – 2
Jacob Wheeler (W)
Luke Lower (L)
Stockton – Jacob Wheeler (2-3, HR, 2 RBIs), Haden Farwell (2-3), Skylar Fishburn (2-4), Connor Brown (3-5, 3B, HR, 4 RBIs), Bo Walker (2-4, 2 RBI), Drew Wheeler (1-3, 2B, RBI).
Morrisville – Hadden Grant (2-3), Austin Francka (2-3).