Bayden Root is getting into a groove. Making his second straight start for the Kokomo Jackrabbits, the former Kokomo Wildkat had another effective outing, getting the win in the Jackrabbits' 4-2 victory over the Battle Creek Bombers on Wednesday night at Kokomo Municipal Stadium.
Root threw five innings with three hits, a walk, one earned run and seven strikeouts. He left with a 4-1 lead. Kokomo used four pitchers after that to seal the game and a two-game sweep of the Bombers.
He is now 3-1 with two straight wins following a 7 2/3 inning-outing in Kokomo's victory on July 3.
"I think he's just getting confidence," Kokomo Jackrabbits skipper Hayden Carter said of Root, who will be a sophomore at Ohio State next season. "He's just being super aggressive. He's getting ahead of guys and he's been really good with two strikes with his slider or breaking ball, whatever he calls it.
"He's getting a little more confidence as each outing goes. Hopefully he can keep building on that moving forward. We'll definitely like it if he keeps doing what he did [Wednesday] night."
Kokomo dented the scoreboard first with a run in the bottom of the third. Hagan Severance drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored on Ben Livorsi's two-out single. Battle Creek equalized in the top of the fourth after Caleb Balgaard's leadoff double. But Kokomo's offense gave Root and the pitching staff all the run support they would need with three runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Kokomo's Joseph Myers was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the fourth. Three batters later, No. 9 hitter Brandon Chinea hit a two-out RBI single to score Myers, Logan Jarvis walked, and Severance singled to score Chinea. With runners on first and third, Severance got caught in a rundown on the next at-bat, and Jarvis scored from third before the Bombers could tag out Severance.
"I think they just stayed simple, they didn't try to do too much, they didn't press," Carter said of the Jackrabbits at the plate. "I think we got three or four base hits with two outs and it was all line drives up the middle for the most part. I liked the way the guys just kind of simplified their approach with two outs, didn't try to get too big for the moment. Hopefully that's another thing we can keep building on going into the All-Star break."
The break runs Monday through Wednesday of next week.
Carter said Root's hand started cramping toward the end of his outing so the Jackrabbits took him out to ensure that he'd be able to make his next scheduled start.
Matt DeYoung recorded two outs in the sixth inning. He allowed a run, but David Reckers finished the inning and threw a perfect seventh. Kollin Stone struck out all three batters he faced in the eighth in his Jackrabbit debut. And Joey Haass threw a perfect ninth. Reckers, Stone and Haass got the last 10 Bombers out.
"I liked the way our guys pounded the zone," Carter said of the pitching staff. "We were aggressive early in counts and I think that any time you can get ahead of the majority of the opposing team that sets you up really well for success. I thought all five guys for the most part did a really good job of getting ahead of guys, being aggressive early on in at-bats and just kind of challenging the hitters."
The game had an announced crowd of 949.
Kokomo (19-22 overall, 4-4 second half) hits the road for five games before the All-Star break. The Jackrabbits are at Battle Creek tonight and Friday.