Western ran into some tough luck in the loss, striking out just one time. Panther hitters seemed to find Kat fielders with well-struck balls throughout. Kokomo took away another pair of hits with strong defensive plays, including a diving catch by right fielder Bo Baker at the foul line to rob Tyler Goudy of extra bases in the fifth and a nifty play at first by Colan Ruch, who dove to the bag to beat Braxton Hunt and take away in infield single.
That, combined with the wind killing the travel of fly balls, led to an afternoon of frustration for the hosts.
“I saw it exactly like that,” Western coach Quentin Brown said. “We had plenty of guys with quality at-bats. They had a couple bleeders that got through, and we hit the ball right at guys. [Baker] made a couple great plays and took us out of some innings. I’m definitely pleased from the aspect of quality at-bats, but defensively we need to shape up a little bit.”
Kokomo (2-1) scored a pair of runs in the first with the help of a pair of free passes and an error. Isaac Turner walked to lead off the game, and Jared Dill was hit by pitch six pitches later. S.A. Dunn moved the pair to second and third on a sacrifice bunt, and both scored on a grounder to first by Ruch after a wild throw home sailed wide of the plate and to the backstop.
Western responded with its two runs in the home half, also benefiting from an error. Austin Taylor singled with one out, and Evan Warden was grazed with a pitch the following at-bat. Drew Bellus connected for a bouncer to shortstop, but a wild throw to second to try and start a double play plated Taylor.