MACON — The first inning has been mostly unkind to Warrensburg-Latham's Reis Kendrick so far this season.
The junior starting pitcher even took a line drive to the hip against LSA and it again didn't look too promising against Meridian on Tuesday afternoon.
Kendrick walked his first three batters but weathered through the adversity for a 13-0 romp over the Hawks in the Central Illinois Conference game.
“Last couple of starts, Reis hasn't been very strong in the first inning,” Warrensburg coach Chris Elston said. “He struggled to find his command. Obviously today he had three walks. I think what we need to do with Reis is look at his pregame routine and pregame preparation and maybe we need to make some adjustments there so we can get him off to better starts.”
Warrensburg catcher Logan Bledsaw provided some relief in the first stanza when he threw out the first runner out at second base on a steal attempt.
After walking the next two, Kendrick adjusted on the mound and escaped out of the jam with a fly out and a ground out. He cruised the rest of the way and tossed four innings, allowing just three hits and those three walks with one strikeout.
“I had to settle in and throw strikes,” Kendrick said.
Warrensburg (4-2) eventually jumped all over Meridian's miscues.
The Cardinals detonated in the third inning with six runs off three hits and two costly errors by the Hawks.
Leadoff hitter Caleb Hermann led Warrensburg's offense with two hits and two runs, including a perfectly placed bunt to load the bases with no outs in the third.
“We always talk about putting balls in play,” Elston said. “If we're going to make an out, make it a productive out. We put some balls in play and Meridian didn't make all of the plays.”
It got worse in the fifth inning for Meridian.
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The Hawks (2-3) committed three more errors and Warrensburg capitalized with seven additional runs.
Meridian's defense just couldn't bail out starting pitcher Jacob Hawkins.
After not giving up a hit in the first two innings, he allowed six hits and five walks but just one earned run.
“We didn't play baseball today,” Meridian coach Rick Scrimpsher said. “That's what it comes down to. We didn't do the basics — we didn't catch the ball, we didn't throw the ball, we didn't hit the ball but we pitched OK. But there were too many extended innings. You can't extend innings with mistakes.”
Warrensbug lost 10 seniors who helped the program to three straight 20-plus win seasons.
In their place is a talented junior class, including Kendrick and Hermann.
They're not unfamiliar with each other either. Many of them have played together on the Decatur Pride American Legion team.
“We're very young,” Kendrick said. “We all play together in the summer though. We know each other and what we can do.”
“We're just trying to reload as they say and so far we've been able to have some success,” Elston said.