Skip to main content

McClain Tigers blow out North Adams

The Highland County Press - Staff Photo - Create Article
McClain baseball seniors Seth Weller, Andrew Potts, Kaden Penwell and Jayden Allison are shown. (HCP Photos/Jim Jones)
Jim Jones, The Highland County Press

The McClain varsity baseball team combined great pitching and a lot of offensive firepower to soundly defeat North Adams, 14-2 Wednesday night on Tom Hixson Field in Greenfield.

Senior starting pitcher Kaden Penwell got the complete-game victory on the mound, giving up just two runs while striking out nine batters in the five-inning mercy-rule ballgame. Penwell also went deep, drilling a monster shot two-run homer in the bottom of the second inning, which gave the Tigers a 4-0 advantage at that point.

But the big blow in the game came in the bottom of the fifth when junior first baseman Cohen Six connected on a walk-off game-ending grand slam.

Things started a little shaky for Penwell in the top of the first when he loaded the bases with no one out, but he really buckled down and found his groove and control, working out of the jam with no runs scoring.

A big defensive play was turned in by left-fielder Connor McCune, who scooped up a ball and threw out a North Adams base-runner at the plate.

McClain scored two runs in the bottom of the first when Andrew Potts beat out and infield single and came around to score on an RBI double by Jayden Allison. Tanner O’Connor ran for Allison and scored the second run on an RBI off the bat of Six.

The Tigers added two more runs in the second when Benny Vangundy walked and scored on the aforementioned two-run homer by Penwell.

North Adams pushed across a run in the top of the third, cutting the deficit to 4-1, but McClain answered with a run in the bottom half when Allison drew a walk and was lifted for pinch-runner O’Connor who scored again, this time from an RBI single by McCune.

Neither team scored in the fourth, and North Adams scored their second run of the game in the top of the fifth before the Tiger bats erupted for the nine-run bottom of the fifth, highlighted by the Six blast to end the game.

McClain is playing probably their best baseball of the season, winning three of their last four ballgames, which is what most coaches would want and expect to see heading into the tournament.

“We came together as a team tonight and hit the ball really well,” McClain head coach Kenny Branscom said. “We’re finally starting to gel together and look like the team that I knew we could be, it’s just a matter of staying focused.

“Right now, they’re giving me everything they have night in and night out; sometimes the ball bounces our way, and sometimes it doesn’t.”

“KP (Kaden Penwell) did a really good job of locating his fastball and curveball early then we coaches finally found his change-up later in the game that he got some really big strikeouts on,” Branscom continued. “Kaden also got a fastball at the plate early in the count and absolutely destroyed the ball, hitting that no-doubter that everyone in the ballpark knew it was gone.

“Then, later in the game Cohen Six steps up to the plate with the bases loaded and gets a fastball up in the zone and crushed it, that ball got out of here in a hurry. And then what can I say about Connor McCune? He’s our do it all guy who was in left field tonight and made the big throw to nail the guy at the plate, which was a big momentum swing early on.”

Coach Branscom also spoke about his four seniors, Kaden Penwell, Seth Weller, Andrew Potts and Jayden Allison, and what they’re meant to his program.

“These four seniors have done so many things for this team and our program,” Branscom said. “They are the first four players that I’ve had from freshman to seniors who have been on varsity all four years. We yell and scream at each other, but then hug and tell each other we love ’em.

“Leadership-wise, I could not have asked for a better group of guys to come together and be the heart and soul of this team. They’ve led like I’ve never seen a group lead before, and that’s what has made our season so special.”

Publisher's note: A free press is critical to having well-informed voters and citizens. While some news organizations opt for paid websites or costly paywalls, The Highland County Press has maintained a free newspaper and website for the last 25 years for our community. If you would like to contribute to this service, it would be greatly appreciated. Donations may be made to: The Highland County Press, P.O. Box 849, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133. Please include "for website" on the memo line.