WATERFORD — The undefeated Fort Frye Cadets continued their hot start to the 2023 campaign with an 18-6 victory over archrival Waterford Wildcats on Thursday night in Waterford.
The Cadets struck out about three times in the six-inning contest, had 18 base hits, while all 10 batters who battled collected at least one base hit to cruise to their sixth straight win of the season.
“I’m really happy with our kids’ plate approach right now and they’re really, really swinging it well,” Fort Frye head coach Trey Engle said. “We’re kind of on a high and we’re just going to try to keep it up.”
The Cadets wasted little time getting on the board as they scored four times in the top of the first inning against Waterford starting pitcher Caleb Wright.
Ethan Dusky plated Fort Frye starting pitcher Dawson Layton with the game’s first hit with a base hit, and third baseman Sean Miller followed with a double to extend the lead to two.
Singles by Clayton Miller and Clay Gruy capped the scoring as the Cadets gave Layton a four-run cushion to work with when he took the mound in the bottom of the first.
Waterford needed just two swings of the bat to get one of those runs back when Mason Heiss jumped on the first pitch he saw from Leighton and doubled to the fence in left-center field before Lane Klein hit Leighton’s first pitch up the middle for an RBI single to cut the lead to 4-1.
Layton helped himself by throwing a shot up the middle off the bat of Xavier Heiss to start a 1-6-3 double play that stifled the Wildcats’ first inning.
Fort Frye added two more in the second when center fielder Owen Brown led off the inning by hitting a sinking line drive to right field and racing all the way around the bases for an inside-the-park home run after the Wildcat right fielder came up empty trying to diving.
Waterford committed six errors in the game, including one late in the second inning, which allowed the Cadets to extend their lead to 6-1.
Layton retired the side in order in the second, but developed some control issues in the bottom of the third as he walked three straight batters, including a bases loaded walk to Xavier Heiss that plated the Wildcat’s second run of the game.
Angle elected to pull Leighton at this point and turned the ball over to Jackson Lowe.
Lowe worked his way out of the bases-loaded jam to keep the Cadets’ lead at four and went the rest of the way to Ft.
“It was uncharacteristic of Dawson, but he’s such a bulldog and he fought through it,” Angle said of Leighton’s control issues. “Jackson (Lowe) has been waiting for his opportunity and he’s a senior who knows what his job is and it worked out well tonight.”
Brown’s RBI double led off a two-run third inning for Fort Frye before they broke things open by sending 11 hitters into the top of the fifth, scoring six times to take a commanding 14-2 lead.
The Cadets collected six hits in the fifth, including singles by Clayton Miller and catcher Bryndon Riddle and a two-run double off the bat of senior first baseman Carter Brooker.
Waterford avoided the mercy rule, scoring three times in the last of the fifth on RBI hits by Colton Miller and Clay Hansel and the Cadets’ only fielding error of the game.
Fort Frye answered with four more in the top of the sixth as Lowe and Riddle each had RBI singles and Layton hit a pair with his third hit of the game.
Waterford was able to get away from Lowe in the bottom of the sixth on a run-scoring single by Mason Heiss, his third hit of the game, but it would not be close enough as the Cadets improved their record to a perfect 6-0.
In addition to Layton’s three home runs, Brown, Dusky, Clayton Miller, Lowe, Riddle and Gruy each collected two hits.
“We’re teaching approach, approach, approach and trying to tell them if we don’t hit the out and put the ball in play, good things are going to happen,” Engle said. “It seems like they’re really starting to embrace it, and that’s a great thing.”
Lowe picked up the win, striking out three over his three and two-thirds inning of relief work.
Wright suffered the loss for the Wildcats, who fell to 1-3 early on the season with a Tri Valley Conference game at Southern scheduled for Friday.
The Cadets will look to remain undefeated when they travel to Parkersburg South Friday.