March 22--EAST PENNSBORO -- All it takes is one swing of the bat.
On the 15th pitch of the season, and the first one Kyle Wickenheiser saw, a single swing set the tone of the game.
"I was just looking for a pitch to drive," Wickenheiser said. "Got a first pitch, obviously, put it over."
A waist-high heater by East Pennsboro'sConner Yoder sailed 375 feet to dead center, giving Cedar Cliff (1-0) a 4-0 lead with no outs in the first. And with that, the kid coach Justin Phillips calls the "quiet riot" gave the Colts the start to the season they needed, as they cruised to a 14-6 victory.
"A lot," Wickenheiser said of his three-run bomb relaxing the team. "You're kind of tense a little bit 'til you get the first hit and then first runs, too."
With the nerves settled in the Colts' dugout, and squarely on the side of the Panthers (0-1), the pitching staff got down to business. The offense spotted Zach Smith a 7-0 after two innings, and he pitched relatively well until the start of the fourth when he was relieved by Noah Malone, who finished out the game on the hill.
The duo combined to allow just six hits and four earned over the seven innings. Malone struck out four in four innings of work while Smith fanned two. But Smith struggled with command late and surrendered four walks as well, three of which contributed to runs in the third and fourth inning.
"As soon as we get out of that rhythm of throwing strikes then they put runs on the board," Phillips said. "So as long as we throw strikes I like our pitching."
Offensively, the Colts got a near flawless performance from the top of their lineup. Wickenheiser was the only one to go yard, but the top four in the lineup -- Brayden Lackey, Stephen McKee, Brandyn Smith and Wickenheiser -- went a combined 8-for-16 from the plate with eight runs scored and five runs batted in.
"If we do that every game, hey, we're going to win a lot of games," Phillips said of the unexpected power surge. "We should have the pitching, we should have the defense, that we don't need to score 14 runs."
The Panthers regrouped a bit in the middle innings, threatening the Colts with a four-run fourth inning and two in the third, but it wasn't meant to be. Grayson Miller led the offense, going 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a run scored, but East Penn managed just six hits.
"I think there was a little jitters in the first inning," Panthers coach Tyler Comp said. "I think it kind of shows, the whole team's kind of young. As we go we'll be a lot better."
But it wasn't enough. With an 11-6 lead, Malone settled in for the Colts. The middle of the lineup gave him some added insurance in the final frame, as two doubles by the bottom of the lineup knocked in the final two runs.
Email Jake Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @jakeadams520
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