Despite the biting winds and near-freezing temperatures, the high school baseball season is under way.
Judge is billed as the team to beat in 3A and the squad got off to the type of start it hoped for. The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs got a dominating performance on the mound from three different hurlers as they ran away from East for a 9-1 victory.
"I was pretty happy with our pitching today," said coach Jeff Myaer. "Offensively, though, we have a long way to go. We had a lot of things that we really need to work on and were not that sharp. I think we have so much more that we can do."
Judge's two top pitchers return from last season in Joe Pond and AJ Carman. Both were all-state selections and were major contributors to a 23-5 campaign and a third-place finish at the state tournament. So the fact that both threw extremely well against East in the season opener did not come as a big surprise.
"We know what we are going to get out of Joe and AJ," said Myaer. "They are as steady as they come."
Pond started the game and threw the opening two innings. He didn't allow a run while surrendering two hits and striking out six. Carman entered in the third and continued the pitching dominance as he also held East scoreless without giving up a hit and striking out four.
Where the Bulldogs hope to be improved over last year is having a third starter emerge, and if Tuesday's outing was any indication, they may have found that third starter in Keenyn Walker. The normal centerfielder threw two innings and gave up only one run on one hit, but he did walk three while striking out five.
"Last year it was just Joe, AJ, Joe, AJ," added Myaer. "We want to get that third arm in the rotation. You need it, especially come playoff time. If Keenyn can give us that, it will really be a big boost."
While the trio took care of business on the mound, the offense struggled to get going. Senior Matt Thorne, who just found out earlier in the day that he had been accepted to the Air Force Academy and will likely play baseball there next year, scored the teams only run in the first four innings after singling and being driven in by Carman's RBI double.
The Bulldogs added three runs in the fifth on a Walker RBI triple and Pond's two-run single. The team really put the game out of reach in the seventh when it plated five runs with Carman, Tyson Moll and Pond all picking up RBIs. East scored its lone run in the sixth on a Tanner Curtis RBI double.
"For only having been outside three days so far, I think we played OK," Myaer said. "But if we want to be the best team and actually win it all this year, we still have some work to be done."