By John Miller
After losing seven seniors to graduation last year, there’s been a learning curve early in the season this spring for the Republic Tigers. After their performance on Tuesday evening, its safe to say the team is headed in the right direction.
Senior pitcher Josh Gentry pitched a complete game shutout and his team banged out 11 hits as the Tigers blanked Carthage 6-0 at Republic High School.
“We’ve grown a lot in the last three weeks,” Republic coach Howard Quigley said. “Losing all the starters from last year’s team, most of these guys are inexperienced and the first week, we showed that, especially at the plate. We’ve been pretty good defensively all year, but at the plate is where we’ve come around.”
After starting the season 0-4, the Tigers have now won four of their last five games.
“Our team batting average after the second week was .167,” Quigley said. “Coming into this game, it was .205 and we put up 11 hits today, so that’s just going to go up.”
The Tigers worked good at-bats all evening and came up with clutch hits when they needed. Everybody in the lineup reached base and seven different hitters notched hits. Cameron Beck (3-for-4), Gus Bauer (2-for-3), and Gentry (2-for-3) all had multi-hit efforts. Republic scored two runs in the third, fourth, and fifth innings and they could’ve had more. They left 11 men on base and stranded the bases loaded twice.
“We’ve been doing things competitively in practice,” Quigley said. “Kids are realizing the importance of getting a guy on, getting him over, and driving him in and needing good pitches to do that.”
Perhaps what was most impressive about Republic’s offensive approach on Tuesday was its willingness to draw a walk. The Tigers walked five times, including once with the bases loaded – a situation that could cause a high schooler to expand his strike zone, wanting to drive in runs by himself.
That “next man up” approach showcased a Republic team that is coming together as a unit, not reliant on only one or two players to do damage.
“We have pretty good chemistry,” Gentry said. “We all like each other a lot and like to work together.”
On the mound, Gentry was tough. The senior scattered three hits over seven innings, striking out four and walking only one. He faced only four over the minimum.
“He’s mixing his speeds and hitting his spots,” Quigley said. “He’s low and away with his slider and up and in with his fastball. He struck out two or three (Tuesday) on that, just on hitting spots, which is what pitching is all about. The key to hitting is timing and the key to pitching is disrupting timing and he’s done a good job of that.”
Gentry’s approach was to keep the ball down in the zone and use his off-speed pitches to upset the opposition’s timing.
“I thought my curveball was really good,” Gentry said. “They swung at most of them and it was in the strike zone a lot.”
Republic 6, Carthage 0
CHS 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 2
RHS 0 0 2 2 2 0 X 6 11 1
Carthage: Smith, O’Malley, Lee
Republic: Messier, Atkins, Sigman, Gentry 2 (2B), Bauer 2, Beck 3 (2B), Cavener