Blackhawks baseball splits pair with Clarkston
The Cheney Blackhawks baseball team went 1-1 in a Great Northern League doubleheader at home against Clarkston, March 22.
Despite weather conditions keeping them indoors for most of the first week of the season, the players are getting out into the field and settling into their roles.
Some of the returning players include pitchers Sawyer Sims and Kyle Jones. Tanner “Bubba” Smith, who played shortstop last year, has moved to second base.
This season Mike Cagle, who made the transition from assistant to head coach, leads the Blackhawks varsity squad. Randy Elam, last year’s manager, is coaching the freshman team.
Cagle said many of his players are passionate about the game.
“They’re baseball kids,” Cagle said. “They’re a cool, composed group of athletes.”
In the first game of the doubleheader, Clarkston defeated Cheney, 8-5.
The Bantams took a 2-1 lead in the first inning. While the Blackhawks tied the game in the third and fifth innings, they gave up three runs in the sixth, giving Clarkston the win.
“Their leadoff hitter is pretty good,” Cagle said. “He had a double out into right, followed by a triple.”
Cheney had a solid defense throughout the first game. At one point when the Bantams had the bases loaded with no outs, the Blackhawks turned a double play and followed it up with a strikeout.
Connor Pratt stepped onto the mound for the Blackhawks and pitched five innings.
“It was encouraging to see him do that this early in the season,” Cagle said.
On offense, catcher Dominic Bonilla had three hits with a double, while Josh Arthur had two RBIs.
Cheney came back to win the second game, 9-2.
After a scoreless first inning, the Blackhawks took a five-run lead in the second.
Bonilla had two more hits with two doubles while Arthur collected two more RBIs. Jones was also 2-3 with a double while Andrew Graham had a squeeze bunt and a sacrifice fly.
On the mound, Sims opened with no-hit pitching in the first three innings. He finished with no walks and five strikeouts. Cagle said Sims had some health issues early in the week and was not originally going to play him, however Sims told his coach his arm “was feeling better.”
“He’s back to the ‘old Sawyer,’” Cagle said. He had Clarkston on their heels after the first pitch of the game.”
Sims was not the only player who shined on defense. Graham, who Cagle describes as a good leader, and Smith turned two, 4-6-3 double plays in the game.
Cagle said he was happy to get the split against a team as good as Clarkston.
The Blackhawks traveled to Deer Park, March 25, to face the Stags.
Cheney will host East Valley in a doubleheader, March 29. Cagle said the GNL is a “tough league with many teams having good players.”
Cagle has several goals for the season, including throwing strikes, having as few errors as possible and making the playoffs.
“We’ve got the ability to hit and the speed,” Cagle said. “We have some good players knowing that.”
Al Stover can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.