CONWAY — The 2019 season is off and running and so is the Kennett High baseball team. The Eagles pounded out 15 hits and stole a record 12 bases, including third twice, in a 13-1 victory over Merrimack Valley in Concord on Friday. The stolen bases were a KHS record for an opening day.
“It was a good way to start,” said Josh McAllister, Eagles’ head coach. “We’ve been implementing things in preseason where we’ve tried to be more aggressive on the base paths and make things happen. Last year, we averaged 4.5 runs a game and only gave up 2.5. I’d like that margin to be a little wider.”
Two years ago, KHS swiped 26 bases for the season. Last year, the Eagles pilfered 55. This season, McAllister has set a target of 75 stolen bases.
Twelve in the first game is a great start,” he said. “The guys have brought into playing aggressively and trying to create chaos and confusion (on the base paths).”
Fifteen of the 17 Eagles on the varsity squad saw action in the opener with nine different players collecting base hits.
“Almost everyone filled the stat sheet in some fashion,” McAllister said. “We were ahead 5-0 in the fifth when I had Justin Olson pinch run for Chase Spencer. He stole second and third and scored on a passed ball. (Laughing) Justin said he’s on pace to steal 36 bases this season.”
Kennett got on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning with a pair of runs. Devon Ouellette reached on an error and trotted home on a double by Ethan Robitaille, who scored three pitches later on a single by Nate Grames.
“An umpire commented, ‘Your guys came out swinging,’ it was nice to hear and see us do,” McAllister said. “We want to go into every at-bat with that mindset.”
Grames went 4-5 at the plate with two singles, a double and a triple while driving in five runs.
Devon Ouellette was 3-5 with three runs scored, two stolen bases and run runs batted in.
Robitaille was 2-4 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI.
Brady King, hitting in the nine-hole was 1-2 with a run scored, two stolen bases, including a swipe of third. Ethan Ouellette, who came on for King, had a single, an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base.
“Everyone wants to do their part and contribute however they can,” McAllister said. “There are on;y nine spots on the field, but these guys all want to be a good teammate and are ready when called upon. Like Dylan West, he came off the bench and fought off an 0-2 count to drive in a run with a sacrifice fly to make it 6-0.”
Senior Derek Dascoulias got the start on the bump for the Eagles, going four innings, scattering two hits, walked four and struck out nine to pick up his first win of the season. He struck out the side in the first inning and whiffed two more in the second frame.
Grames pitched the final three innings, walking one while fanning four. He needed just 5 pitches and 45 seconds to retire the side in the fifth inning.
“My biggest concern going into the game was that we didn’t throw strikes in the scrimmage against Spaulding,” said McAllister. “The mound at MV is a little higher than we’re used to, but Derek and Nate adjusted well. I was hoping to get three or four innings out of Derek or Nate and the gameplay worked to perfection.”
Robitaille turned in the web gem of the day in the fourth inning with a stellar play on a rope hit in his area code.
“It was a dynamic play, I don’t know how he got it,” McAllister said.
Kennett was scheduled to host Coe-Brown Northwood Academy (1-1) in the home opener on Monday, but Robert Burns Sr. Varsity Baseball Field was still under snow. It is slated to be made up on Saturday, April 27 at 1 p.m.
KHS is scheduled to play two more games on the road this week with a trip to Wolfeboro on Wednesday to play rival Kingswood (0-1) on Wednesday, and then close out the week on Friday with a trek to Amherst to play Souhegan (0-2). Both games at set for 4 p.m.