By Pete Chiodo
Herald Sports Editor
Derek Beach had heard it through the grapevine that his two-run single in the first inning of Tuesday’s game against Northwestern had been called lucky by the home plate umpire.
“I guess the umpire said, ‘I’m surprised he hit that. He just threw his bat out at it,’” Beach said.
Keep in mind that Beach had gotten this information secondhand. It was reported to him by teammate Tyler Durstine, who was up to bat after Beach’s hit.
“I didn’t think I just threw my bat at it,” Beach shrugged.
For his next at bat, Beach made sure there was no question regarding its legitimacy, as he ripped a triple deep into the gap in left-center to lead off the second inning.
“I knew,” he said, “I had to swing hard and make contact and not just throw my hands at whatever was coming in there, if that’s what he thought.”
Beach’s two-hit afternoon ended up being just a small portion of Titusville’s avalanche of offense on Tuesday, as they defeated the Wildcats 18-1 in three innings during Region 4 action at Art Pearson Field.
“We knew coming in that (Northwestern) wasn’t going to be the best team that we’ve played,” said Beach. “But we couldn’t take them lightly. We can’t take any game lightly. We knew before the game to work on the little things and make sure we’re doing everything right.”
The Rockets actually got off to a bit of bumpy start. The Wildcats loaded up the bases on Rockets starter Drew Wheeling on a couple walks and a single by Nathan Timm.
Then Wheeling walked Jarrod Glasl to force in a run and put Titusville into an early hole.
However, that hole would be obliterated half an inning later.
In the bottom of the first, the Rockets brought 18 batters to the plate, scattered eight base hits, drew five walks, forced one error, was hit by one pitch and scored 13 runs.
Some highlights for the Rockets in the first:
n Beach had his two-run single in his second at-bat. In his first, he walked and later scored on a nifty double-steal pulled off by him and Durstine.
n Durstine was 2-for-2, with both singles going to left field, and scored both times that he reached base.
n Hunter Titus hit a bases-clearing double in his second at-bat.
n Garrett Knapp singled and scored in both of his plate appearances. His first single drove in a run.
n Kolin Baker hit an RBI single and scored in his first at-bat, then he hit a three-run double in his second.
After all that damage was done, Wheeling retook the mound in the second inning and went 1-2-3, striking the first two he faced.
Titusville then put the mercy rule into effect in the bottom of the second inning with five more runs.
Beach’s triple got things rolling. Mike Canter added an RBI double. And Knapp drove in a run with sacrifice fly.
“I was hoping that we’d be able to keep our hands back and make some adjustments at the plate,” said Titusville head coach Roy Schweitzer. “And they really did. I mean, we saw four pitchers. And we made adjustments each time. So, that was good. It was good to see how we did that in the game.”
Titus then took the mound for Titusville in the third inning, backed up by substitutes in nearly every defensive position.
Titus walked the first two batters, but then got the next three in order to end the game early.
“We got a lot of younger kids involved, a lot of kids that saw time in their first varsity game,” said Schweitzer. “We got some guys in positions that they don’t normally play. And, you know, for them it’s got to be a thrill to get into a varsity game, no matter what the circumstances are.”
Now 2-2 on the year and 2-1 in Region 4, Titusville goes back to work today, traveling to North East for another conference contest.
Northwestern dropped to 0-4 overall, 0-3 in the region.
“Maybe (Northwestern) is a little down this year,” said Schweitzer. “It’s something that we’ve all gone through before. You feel for them. But they’re a quality program. The coaches will get them better. They’ll improve. And it’s going to be a dogfight next time around.”