By Todd Fertig
Shawnee Heights rolled through a doubleheader with Topeka West Friday at Hummer Sports Park, getting two good starts from its pitchers and extended rallies at the plate to sweep the United Kansas Conference twinbill, 16-1 and 18-2.
T-Bird senior pitcher Nic Perez set the tone, recording all nine outs of a shortened game by strikeout. Perez permitted a walk and a double that produced a run in the first frame, but then struck out the next seven batters he faced.
Shawnee Heights coach Ryan Schmidt said it was good to see Perez, an Emporia State baseball commit, bounce back from a rough first outing against Bishop Miege last week.
“Nic is a senior we’re going to look to as a leader on the mound,” Schmidt said. “He needed to get a good start and we got that out of him today. He needed that for himself to get on a roll.”
“I was struggling to finish guys off,” Perez said of his first start last Tuesday. “It seemed like just about every single one of my counts were 0-2 or 1-2 but then I struggled finishing guys off. Today I think I was just able to command my fastball better.”
The T-Birds scratched out six runs in the first two innings of the opener, then rallied for 10 in the third. That gave Shawnee Heights a 15-run advantage which shortened the game after three innings. Leading the rallies was senior Evan Smith, who tripled and doubled in the first game.
Shawnee Heights sophomore Deacon Pomeroy followed Perez’ example, giving up a run in the first inning before locking in for two scoreless frames. He permitted another run in the fourth inning, by which time Shawnee Heights had another 15-run lead to trigger the run rule.
“We needed two good pitching performances, and we got them out of Nic and Deacon,” Schmidt said.
Shawnee Heights rapped out 18 hits in the second game, getting triples from Smith and Pomeroy and doubles from senior Zack Cole and freshman Michael Lilly.
“Bouncing back from a loss to Seaman (13-3 on Tuesday), we were disappointed in how we played in that one, so it’s good to move on to the next game,” said Schmidt. “We have a big week coming up, so we know it’s going to get tough.”
The T-Birds improved to 5-1, their lone loss coming to Seaman.
“You want to be playing your best baseball at the end of the season,” Schmidt said. “We’re taking care of business in these games, which is good. But there are some areas where I know we need to get better. With (the games) we have coming up, we’re going to find out if we’re ready or not.”
Perez had time after his three-inning stint to reflect on the status of the T-Bird team.
“This is a great group of guys. They all come to work every day,” Perez said. “There’s only six of us seniors on the team, so to be able to lead them and help them out and understand their game helps form a brotherhood around you.”
SHAWNEE HEIGHTS 16, TOPEKA WEST 1
Shawnee Heights (4-1) 241 — 16 9 1
Topeka West (1-4) 101 — 1 1 4
Perez and Cole. Fienhage, Tisdale (3), King (3) and Tidwell. W — Perez. L — Fienhage. 2B — Shawnee Heights: Smith, Pomeroy, Cole. Topeka West: Penny. 3B — Shawnee Heights: Smith.
Shawnee Heights (5-1) 271 8 — 18 18 1
Topeka West (1-5) 100 1 — 2 3 3
Pomeroy and Murphy. Lehman, Berg (3) and Tidwell. W — Pomeroy. L — Lehman. 2B — Shawnee Heights: Cole, Lilly. 3B — Shawnee Heights: Smith, Pomeroy. Topeka West: Penny, Berg.