Community R-6 first inning precedes 11-1 win at Paris

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 3/29/23

Monday’s game between Community R-6 and Paris was a game of firsts.

The Trojans took a big advantage on Paris’ home field with a seven-first inning, highlighted by Brant Cope’s …

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Community R-6 first inning precedes 11-1 win at Paris


Monday’s game between Community R-6 and Paris was a game of firsts.

Community R-6 vs Paris Photo Gallery

The Trojans took a big advantage on Paris’ home field with a seven-first inning, highlighted by Brant Cope’s first career home run and grand slam, before winning the district matchup 11-1 in five innings. Gavin Allen struck out nine in five innings, allowing only one run in the first inning.

Community head coach Joel Krato said the Trojans (2-1) could have scored even more, having the bases loaded in the first inning before Paris (1-1) switched from Jaxon Gamber to Leo Bounds on the mound, but that solid first inning decided the game. Bounds struck out seven in his three innings of work while allowing one run.

“Just coming out and dropping seven in the first inning, as a pitcher, how much more confident are you? You can start to fill the zone and don’t have to be too perfect defensively,” Krato said. “Dropping the seven in the first inning was the difference in the game. If we don’t, who knows how that game turns out?”

The Trojan who struck the biggest blow in the first inning was Cope as Allen and Ayden Meranda each contributed RBI hits as 13 batters strolled to the box. Allen finished 3-3 with three RBI and double and Meranda had three RBI and two doubles, but Cope almost matched their combined RBI total with his grand slam and bunt single in a three-run fifth inning.

Cope said he was just looking for a strike, which happened to be the first pitch he saw. He said he wasn’t worried about the loose command from Gamber as years of play culminated in a special moment for him.

“It means a lot,” Cope said. “It means all the hard work we put in has finally paid off. It’s just a great accomplishment to have."

“Good for Brant,” Krato said. “Brant’s been swinging the bat really well this year. I put him in the 5 spot — moved him up a spot and moved the lineup around a little bit.”

In what was Gamber’s first outing on a mound, according to Paris head coach Darren Beaver, his command was all over the place as Community took four of its 12 walks and its lone hit by pitch against him. Beaver made the quick move to Bounds as the Coyotes needed strikes to limit the free runners Community was getting.

Beaver said he expects good things from Gamber, who moved in from Kansas City this year having pitched a bit in middle school. With the Coyotes having four games scheduled this week, he said having as many available arms for weeks like this is important.

“All we want to do is throw strikes. (Bounds) did that, and he settled things down,” Beaver said. “Jaxon had never pitched before, but he wanted to try it. He’d done good in practice so why not this one? He’s normally a third baseman. He’ll get better.”

Allen didn’t wait too long to get better as he was sharp starting in the second inning. He did pick up his first two strikeouts in the frame to pitch around an infield error, but he also pitched around some wild command that saw some balls hit the backstop.

For a pitcher, Allen said it’s great to have the offense come through that much so early. There is a downside, though, that he had to work through.

“After scoring a whole bunch of runs, my arm was not fully prepared to go out there and pitch after sitting and running for the first 20 minutes of the game,” Allen said. “I finally got settled in more. Fastball was a little shaky today, but my slider, curveball and offspeeds, they were all working really well to keep people off-balance. Then the fastball would trip them up a little bit.”

Krato agreed that Allen’s offspeed pitches were his best offerings, and it fit how the Trojans needed to attack the Coyotes.

“He started throwing the offspeed because they were sitting on the fastball early and they were putting the ball in play,” Krato said. “For the most part, they hit it hard in the first inning and even first two innings. Then we started working backwards — throwing breaking balls first. All of a sudden, your 74 mph fastball looks like it’s 84.”

Beaver said his offense did “all you can ask” as it put the ball in play against Allen only for the Trojans to record the outs.

Krato said it was great to win in early fashion, and now Community has to clean up the missed signs, balls swung at in the dirt and called strikes taken at the plate.

“We swung the bat pretty well in the first inning. After that, we kind of teetered off,” Krato said. “My kids were swinging for the fences after the first one, but I think it kind of settled in with us.”

Community hosts Silex (2-1) at 5 p.m. today while Paris plays in the MMA Invitational Baseball Classic on Saturday against Missouri Military Academy (1-2) and Van-Far (0-2).


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