February 26, 2012 12:24:00 AM
CALEDONIA -- After a dismal performance at the plate during the final preseason jamboree last week, Caledonia High School baseball coach John Wilson thought his team had taken a step back.
Caledonia struck out 18 times in 24 at-bats in a pair of four-inning games at Columbus. Sure, the Feds' top two hitters from the previous season were gone, but the rest of the roster was intact. Wilson was keen to see his team close the gap after losing 13 games in which they led after the fifth inning in 2011.
Game 1 of a home doubleheader Saturday eased some of the concern Wilson had heading into the regular season-opener.
Caledonia used a seven-run fourth inning and reached double-digit hits to beat West Lowndes High 13-1.
The bottom half of the lineup was especially potent for the Feds as Jeremy Reed-Wood and Will Breen each went 3 for 3. Breen and Jarrod Studdard, who also went 3 for 3, finished with two RBIs each.
"[West Lowndes] gave us some things, and we at least hit the ball," Wilson said. "There was a guy throwing 75 miles an hour last week and we couldn't hit the ball. It was alarming. It's good to see us hit the ball today."
Caledonia didn't find its stride at the plate until third inning, when it stretched a 3-0 lead to 6-0 following a two-RBI double to center field from Breen.
Up to that point, Caledonia's baserunners came through West Lowndes' mistakes. Back-to-back passed balls led to the first two runs of the game, while five of Caledonia's first six runs came on miscues with two outs on the board.
"We made a couple of mistakes where I thought we could have gotten out of a couple of innings to keep the score down," said Panthers coach Todd Stanley. "But it's the first game out of the chute; we were playing a lot of young kids, and kind of expected some of it. But we should have made some plays to get out of the inning."
Caledonia pitcher Cody Allsup got the win with four scoreless and hitless innings. Allsup struck out five and walked one.
West Lowndes' Eric Crawford broke up the no-hitter, which Allsup would have split with reliever Montana Jacobs, with a single off Jacobs in the fifth inning. The Panthers plated their only run on an error in the fifth but failed to capitalize further with runners on the corners.
"Their pitchers did a good job of mixing it up and throwing strikes," said Stanley. "There's just not a lot of hard hit balls with these bats. But it was good to get out here and find out what we need to work on."
Trevor Stowers earned the loss for West Lowndes. The senior gave up six runs on six hits. he walked five and struck out two.