Wednesday, June 29, 2022

CC-C’s Reeder mows through Mustangs’ young lineup

Carson City-Crystal pitcher Gavin Reeder fires a pitch against Montabella in the opener of Thursday’s doubleheader at Montabella. Reeder finished with six strikeouts while facing the minimum in the three-inning shutout. — DN Photo | Austin Chastain

BLANCHARD — Thirty-two pitches. Carson City-Crystal sophomore Gavin Reeder needed just 32 pitches to earn a Mid-State Activities Conference win on Thursday against Montabella.

Reeder mowed through the Mustangs’ lineup and the Eagles’ bats gave him all the run support he could need — earning a 16-0 win in the three-inning opener of Thursday’s doubleheader.

“Nobody was catching up to the fastball,” Reeder said. “I just went up there and threw it, putting it into the zone like everybody told me to.”

In those 32 pitches while facing the minimum nine batters, Reeder racked up six strikeouts and only allowed one hit, a bunt by JT Smith in the bottom of the first. Smith was thrown out at third on a steal attempt by Eagles’ catcher Cade Bolen. Smith tried to avoid the tag by jumping over CC-C third baseman Doug Billings. However, Billings applied the tag on Smith for the out.

Mustangs’ coach Johnathan Ball said he likes to see those kinds of plays from his young squad. Smith, one of the faster athletes in the area, has a tendency to create those exciting moments. 

“That’s why he leads off for us,” said Ball, who had previously coached the Montabella JV team. “That’s why he’s got the green light every time he goes up there. He can bunt whenever he wants to, whenever he feels like he needs to. He has the right to do it, and is safe a lot.”

But the rest of the Mustang lineup struggled against the performance Reeder turned in. He earned two strikeouts in each of the three innings and relied on his defense to make the play for two of the other three outs. Reeder made a putout for the first out of the third inning on a comebacker from Ryan Cook.

Carson City-Crystal first baseman Caden Walker crosses the plate during the opener of Thursday’s doubleheader at Montabella. Walker scored three times and had a two-run single in the victory. — DN Photo | Austin Chastain

Reeder said he knew it from warmups — he was ready to rock and roll.

“I felt like my arm was pretty loose today and wasn’t really tight,” Reeder said. “I was feeling pretty good.”

At the plate, Reeder put together a solid day with three RBIs on two hits with a double in the third. He scored twice, in the first and third innings, along the way.

The Eagles, as a whole, had the bats working well in Thursday’s opener.

Cody Wolever led off the game with a base hit up the middle. He advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches from Mustang starter Ryan Binge. Wolever was driven in by the next batter, Cole Smith.

CC-C batted around in the first inning, sending 10 men to the plate, picking up RBIs from Caden Walker, Colton Hofstetter and Grayson Ackels, who drove in a pair with the bases loaded. In all, the Eagles scored six runs on five hits with an error in the first, helping Reeder to cruise and do his thing on the mound.

The Eagles sent eight men to the plate in the second, with Reeder driving in a pair on a base hit that leaked to left field. Caden Walker scored on a passed ball to account for the Eagles’ third run of the inning.

“Just put the bat on the ball, it’s pretty much as simple as that,” Reeder said. “Put it in play and just hope that it works out. That’s been the plan, pretty much, the entire season.”

Reeder put the bat on the ball again in the third inning, ripping one of three Eagles’ doubles to notch his third RBI of the day. Bolen and pinch-hitter Larry Hackenmeyer drove in an RBI while Smith notched three RBIs with a pair of doubles in the inning. CC-C sent 13 men to the plate in the top of the third, stretching their lead out to 16-0.

Montabella pitcher Connor Ball fires a pitch during Thursday’s doubleheader against CC-C at home. — DN Photo | Austin Chastain

Binge was charged with the loss for the Mustangs, but struck out four batters in two innings of work. Rayce Sackett pitched 0.2 innings while Connor Ball finished out the game on the mound.

Ball said his team is young, with underclassmen anchoring the starting lineup. He said that he has some guys on the team that haven’t played a game of baseball in their life. Mix in the poor weather, preventing guys from getting at-bats, and the challenges begin to mount. But Ball said he and the Mustangs are excited for the challenge and ready to tackle the task at hand. Ball added he aims to play his younger guys as much as he can to try and help build confidence and build up talent throughout the program.

“These guys just have to see at-bats, they have to see pitches, you can’t do anything in practice that simulates being on the diamond,” Ball said. “We just have to play games. … Montabella has a lot of athletes in the school district and we just don’t have them playing baseball right now. … We lost eight seniors last year; how do you rebuild that from losing eight seniors to the next year being a winning program? We’re not going to. Unfortunately, our seniors aren’t gonna get a lot of help this year, but we’re hoping that those sophomores and freshmen we have on the team might have some support going forward.”

CC-C is, likewise, a young team, with just two seniors and one junior, but the sophomores filling out the Eagles’ lineup has been able to get out and play games this season.

Eagles’ first-year head coach, Brett Meilleur, who was a longtime assistant coach at Central Montcalm, where he graduated in 2006, before taking over the Eagles’ program, said that he is glad to have his guys be able to get out and play.

Montabella’s JT Smith jumps over CC-C third baseman Doug Billings in the first inning of Thursday’s doubleheader at Montabella. Smith was the only base runner and was tagged out on the play at third. — DN Photo | Austin Chastain

Next time out, the Eagles are hosting the CC-C Invitational, beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, while the Mustangs host Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart at 4 p.m. Monday.

“They’ve played a lot of baseball lately, the experience definitely helps you get better at baseball,” Meilleur said. “So, playing a lot has helped us a lot — it’s the experience. The weather really made it tough, but we’re finally getting decent weather again, getting into a rhythm … it’s great.”

As for Reeder’s performance, Meilleur said he was happy with the way Reeder pitched effectively to earn the win. He was also happy with the defense to take care of business when needed.

“You really need games like this at times where you just feel yourself dominate because it shows how much you’ve worked,” Meilleur said. “Gavin is gonna be a really, really good varsity pitcher at some point. He’s almost there already, and he’s just gonna keep getting better.”

Ball said he would like to see youth, in the near future, continue to step up and try to help build the program.

He added he has one freshman on the team with the host of sophomores, and building depth would help in the long run, he said.

“We need that class to step up next year, then we need our seventh and eighth graders to come and in and be ready to play as freshmen,” Ball said. “It’d be nice to have a JV where I can play that freshman in the pitching spot every game instead of pulling him in there in garbage time and let him throw pitches. That’s how you grow it.”

Meanwhile, Meilleur said he has enjoyed the work ethic of his young group and hopes that work ethic can continue to build the Eagles’ program.

“It’s been a good group,” Meilleur said. “They’re hungry to get better at baseball. They’ve been really coachable and good kids overall. It’s been enjoyable for me to see the strides and it’s been encouraging for us and all the other coaches throughout the year.”

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