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Vandals roll to first win of year

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By Seth Whitehead

 After getting outscored 25-2 in its first two games of the 2009 season, the Vandalia baseball team enjoyed being on the left side of a lopsided final score Friday in an 11-1 win over visiting Ramsey.

And the key to the Vandals' first victory of the season being an easy one was their ability to take advantage of opportunities - along with the Rams' inability to do so.

Codey Norris's clutch two-out, two-run single staked the Vandals (1-2) to an early lead in the first, and Vandalia used opportunistic baserunning and shaky Ramsey defense to blow the game open from there.

The Rams (1-3), in sharp contrast, stranded seven runners in the first four innings against Vandals starter TK Kinkead, who wound up allowing just one run in five innings, striking out six.

"He showed his toughness by staying calm when Ramsey had runners in scoring position," Vandals coach Luke Hohlt said. "He is not an overpowering pitcher, but he hits his spots well and that is where his success will come from."

The Vandals finished with a season-high nine hits in a game that went just five innings, doing most of their damage off Ramsey starter Korey McCloskey.

Andy Hosick got things going for the Vandals in the first by getting hit by a pitch with one out. Ryan Thiele followed with a single, and Norris found a hole up the middle two batters later, scoring Hosick and Thiele after they advanced to second and third on a wild pitch.

Then, after Kinkead worked out of jams in the first three frames, the Vandals blew the game open with a four-run third.

Jared Herker got things going with a one-out single before alertly stealing second on a ball in the dirt. Norris followed with an RBI double and scored moments later on a two-base error on a ball hit by Kinkead.

Another error allowed Kinkead to score, and an error, walk and wild pitch resulted in another run to cap VCHS's big rally.

The Vandals extended their lead to 10-0 with four more in the fourth.

An RBI double by Thiele and an RBI single by Craig Freeman highlighted the inning, and an error and three passed balls/wild pitches allowed the other two runs to score.

Ramsey got on the board in the top of the fifth, but Freeman gave the Vandals a short-game victory in the bottom of the frame with a walkoff RBI double to score Thiele.

Thiele led the Vandals offensively by going 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI, while Norris was 2-for-2 with three RBIs. Freeman finished 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.

"Up and down, I thought we hit the ball well," Hohlt said. "We are still working on not giving up on any pitch. That is going to be a yearlong task for us. It is so easy to have a lapse at the plate, but we are really working on staying mentally tough in there."

Russell Snow went 2-for-3 to lead Ramsey, while Ethan Carlock, Byron Moreland, Vinnie Thull and Austa Keppler added singles.

The Vandals were scheduled to host St. Elmo Tuesday, but the game was postponed due to wet grounds. Saturday's scheduled game at Brownstown was also rained out.

They will look to reach the .500 mark Friday when they host Gillespie.

"It felt really good to get our first win and we are looking forward to turning it into a streak," Hohlt said.

Last Wednesday's

Ramsey Game

Clay City 5, Ramsey 3

Snow forced extra innings by tying the game at 3-3 with a one-out RBI single in the bottom of the seventh, but visiting Clay City regained the lead with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth, going on to an extra-inning win.

Snow finished 2-for-4 at the plate and worked five solid innings on the mound, allowing just one earned run while scattering eight hits.

Ethan Carlock added an RBI single in three at-bats, but he took the tough-luck loss, allowing two unearned runs in three innings of relief.

After stranding a pair of runners in scoring position after Snow's game-tying hit, Clay City scored its eighth-inning runs on a two-out, two-run double preceded by a walk and a pair of errors.