Winning streak hits 13

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Rockets stay hot with wood bats

By Josh Cook

Wood was good for the Shelby County baseball team this past weekend.
The Rockets won a trio of games – their 11th, 12th and 13th consecutive victories – Friday and Saturday in the Henry County/Shelby County Wood Bat Classic.
Using wooden bats, Shelby County beat Butler County, 7-0, and Rowan County, 5-1, Friday before flogging Fleming County, 12-2, Saturday to improve to 14-1
SCHS 7, Butler 0
Kipp Moore tossed a 2-hit, complete-game shutout at the Bears (4-6) on Friday afternoon.
“Butler County is where I first started coaching [from 1997-1999], so it was important to me to come out and have the guys play well,” Shelby County Coach Bart “Rudy” Roettger said. “They did just that.”
Moore gave up two hits while walking two and striking out six as he improved to 3-0 this season.
 “Kipp did a great job of taking advantage of high school hitters using wood bats probably for the first time,” Roettger said of Moore, who has a 0.82 earned-run average and 17 strikeouts in 17 innings this season. “He did a great job of working the inside part of the plate and not allowing Butler County to get good wood on the ball. The only hits were a double down the right-field line in the second and an infield hit to lead off the third. He settled down and retired fifteen of the next seventeen Butler County batters.”
Austin Rhodes, batting sixth, and Tyler Eades, batting ninth, led the Rockets at the plate, each going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Kevin Veeley added a pair of RBIs.
 “One of the reasons we have started off so well is that the bottom of our lineup has done a great job of producing this year. Austin Rhodes is a huge reason for this,” Roettger said. “He continued to produce on Friday with two big hits. He led off the second with a hit up the middle and then stole second and third. He later scored on a Tyler Eades’ base hit.
“We feed off the energy that Austin brings to the ballpark every day. Friday was no different.  In most of our wins this year Austin Rhodes, more often than not, has played a role in the victory somehow.”
SCHS 5, Rowan 1
A trio of Rockets pitchers – Nathan Hayes, Steven Standafer and Joe Crisp – combined to 1-hit the Vikings (2-7) on Friday evening.
“Rowan’s record is not indicative of the talent they have,” Roettger said. “They were a much better baseball team than their record shows. Our guys came out a little flat on Friday night. We hit baseballs that, with our normal bats, would have been hits or extra-base hits, but with wood were ‘at em’ balls.
“[But] one of the common traits of a winning streak is when an area of the game may not be hitting on all cylinders, usually another area stands out, in the second game that would be our pitching. Our pitchers have been very good all season, [Friday] night’s game was no exception.”
Hayes picked up the victory. He walked two and struck out three and took a no-hitter into the top of the seventh.
“Nathan Hayes did a great job of keeping the Viking hitters off balance,” Roettger said. “He retired the first twelve Viking hitters before a leadoff error in the fifth allowed the first hitter to reach base.
“Nathan has to rely on location and mixing speeds. He does that as well as anyone we have on our staff. He knows what his strengths are and uses those well. Often in high school ball, you have guys that have to pitch who are what we call ‘throwers,’ Nathan is a pitcher. He knows what he has to do to be effective. [Friday] night he did a great job of that. He took a no-hitter into the seventh, but an infield hit that Tyler Eades couldn’t glove despite diving for ended his no-hit bid, and night.”
Standafer pitched to three batters in the seventh before Crisp threw to the last two to seal the victory.
“Joe Crisp came in with the bases loaded and did what he does best, and went right after them,” Roettger said. “He got a guy to ground out, strike out and took advantage of Kipp Moore picking a guy off at second base from behind the plate to end the game.”
Zach Holmes and Kyle Durbin each went 2-for-3, accounting for four of the team’s six hits. Durbin had two RBIs, and Holmes scored two runs.
“Zach and Kyle have been hot early,” Roettger said. “Both are blessed with plus speed. Their speed allows us to do so much offensively. They are both good bunters, they run the bases well, and they have a knack for getting on base.”
The Rockets led 1-0 after five innings, but broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth.
“A huge play in the game was Steven Standafer pinch-hitting for Nathan Hayes in the sixth with runners on and blooping a ball right over the outstretched hands of the second basemen,” Roettger said. “That drove in Durbin and Rhodes, another example of how putting the ball in play creates opportunities.”
SCHS 12, Fleming County 2
The Rockets (14-1) ran their win streak to 13 games in a row, exploding for seven runs in the fifth inning to end the game early against the Panthers (5-6).
Boone picked up the victory. He gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits, while walking one and striking out seven to improve to 4-0.
“He wasn’t the sharpest he’s been this year, but yet good enough to keep a hot baseball team to only three hits [and] two runs,” Roettger said. “I can’t say enough about how well Dillon has pitched for us this year. The biggest difference is his command. He is throwing close to seventy percent of his pitches for strikes this year.”
Kam Bruner went 3-for-4 at the plate to lead Shelby’s 10-hit attack.
“I thought our guys did a decent job of squaring the ball up on Saturday,” Roettger said. “We hit baseballs hard all game, though we really didn’t have a lot to show for it. Kam Bruner had a nice game. He got good wood on the ball all day [and] Zach Holmes continued to stay hot and had a nice day at the plate.
“It is very important for our offense for Kipp Moore and Kyle Durbin to find ways to get on base and Saturday they did that by doing little things such as getting on base by hit by pitch. Not the most conventional, or best feeling of the many ways to get on base, but very important. We are constantly telling our guys little things win ballgames, this is a great example of that.”
The Rockets, who hosted Owen County on Tuesday night, play at Henry County at 5:30 p.m. today.

BUTLER COUNTY 000 000 0 – 0 2 2
SHELBY COUNTY 010 033 X – 7 6 2

Keston Flener and Clark Parker. Kipp Moore and Kevin Veeley. W – Moore (3-0). L – Flener. 2B – Austin Rhodes (SC), Flener (BC). Records – Butler County 4-6, Shelby County 12-1.

ROWAN COUNTY 000 000 1 – 1 1 2
SHELBY COUNTY 010 004 X – 5 6 2

Tyler Arthur and Jordon Cornett. Nathan Hayes, Steven Standafer (7), Joe Crisp (7) and Moore. W – Hayes (2-0). L – Arthur. Record – Rowan County 2-7.

FLEMING COUNTY 101 00 – 2   3   2
SHELBY COUNTY   320 07 – 12 10 0

Quentin Humphries. Dillon Boone and Veeley. W – Boone (4-0). L – Humphries. 2B – Kam Bruner (SC). Records – Fleming County 5-6, Shelby County 14-1.