PREP BASEBALL: Hot start leads Lakers to bounce-back win

WINSTED – There’s no sense in waiting until the last inning to get things going. The Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted baseball team learned that in their previous game against Watertown-Mayer. It resulted in a loss.

With a chance to bounce back against the Kimball Cubs at home, the Lakers did just that as they came out red-hot with a big first inning to get back into the win column with a convincing 8-2 victory over the Cubs at Denis M. Campbell Field Monday evening.

“We played uptight on Friday,” HLWW coach Cullen Schultz said. “Today they came ready to go. When Noah Bush is on the mound, there’s a different mentality. You saw that today. They came loose and ready to go and they stringed some hits together.”

After Bush worked around an error in the top of the first inning, the Lakers wasted no time in getting on the board. Bush led off the inning by reaching on an error, and HLWW took full advantage of the mistake by Kimball. An RBI double from Trent Malone gave the Lakers an early 1-0 lead, but they were nowhere close to stopping. Trevin Olund, Brandon Karels, and Bush all drove in runs for the Lakers as they came out and put up six runs in the top of the first.

“It felt good to bounce back,” Bush said. “We had a lot of energy today. We were lacking it Friday. It felt good to finally get back and get a (win).”

After HLWW poured it on with six runs in the first, Kimball inched back into it thanks to a pair of errors by the Lakers. Two errors allowed two runs to score for the Cubs, but Bush picked up his guys behind him with back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the inning.

“My coaches always just tell me to relax up there and take a few deep breaths,” Bush said. “I just did that so I could power through this and keep going. I can’t put too much pressure on my defense. I just have to get up there and pound the zone.”

Bush did just that as he was dominant the rest of the way. In his final four innings, Bush retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced. On the day, he finished with a win in six innings of work, while allowing just two hits and striking out 11.

Life on the mound hasn’t always been easy for Bush. In his sophomore season this year, the right-hander has shown both his growth and maturity as a pitcher, as well as a leader for the Lakers this season.

“He’s growing,” Schultz said. “He started as an eighth grader. He has his ups-and-downs mentally. He’s just growing. This year, he’s taken a huge step. He’s really become a leader. You can see that when he’s up on the mound. He takes care of his teammates and picks them up when they need it.”

For the complete story and more HJ sports coverage, check out the Friday, May 3 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.

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