The start of a new baseball season usually requires shaking off some rust that has accumulated over the winter.
The Rapid City Central pitching staff was able to shake that rust off quickly.
The Cobblers notched 14 strikeouts Tuesday in a 11-1 win over Douglas at McKeague Field.
"With three months of being indoors and finally getting outside, I think they were excited," Central coach Ray Puhlman said. 'We were a little rough around the edges in some spots but the more we’re outside and the more we’re together, we’ll get over that."
Cobbler starter Mitch Sand went five innings and struck out 12 Patriot batters, gave up four hits and allowed one earned run.
"We didn’t hit, we had guys watching balls go by that were good pitches. It was kind of a confidence level that wasn’t there," Douglas coach Josh Wright said. "We’re a young team, and for some reason we’ve always been a young team, but we have guys watching some great looking pitches go right down the middle without moving the bat or even showing any attempt to go after it.
"It shows, it gives confidence to other pitchers that these guys aren’t swinging and until we fix that there will be some games like this."
Sand allowed two base-runners in the first inning but shut down the Patriots after that. Central struck first, as Ethan Byrd, Trey Bandhagen and Dominic Santiago scored and Jon DeRuyter recorded the only RBI in the bottom of the second inning.
Douglas responded in the top of the third when Trent Outka scored on a single from Willie Moffit. In the bottom of the third.
Central scored a run in the bottom of the inning when Jackson McGough scored on a a fielder's choice from Zach Hess.
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"Last year they gave us some trouble both times," Puhlman said. "Tonight we settled down into the game pretty quickly, it didn’t take three or four innings to start doing things like it normally does. It was good to get the start right off the bat."
Douglas' offensive troubles continued in the fourth and fifth, as three more batters struck out.
"Our kids have been hitting for three months, I know they can hit. That’s the reason the starting nine is on the field, because I know they can hit," Wright said. "It’s just a confidence level, it’ll come with time. We’re going to put the work in."
The bottom of the fifth was the big inning for the Cobblers. They scored five runs, as McGough, Ty Godkin, Hess, Byrd and Brandhagen crossed the plate to give Central a 9-1 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth the Cobblers sent the crowd home early. Sand scored, and Godkin crossed the plate for the second time in the night to invoke the 10-run rule.
Puhlman said he thought the offense could still use some improvements, but for opening day he was pleased with how well his team hit.
"We were chasing some pitches, we weren’t letting it get through the zone and that caused a lot of lazy groundballs," he said. "Going to live pitching will make a big difference for us. Once we go to the live ball and get a little more batting practice we’ll be ready to go. I think we hit the ball pretty well for the first night."
Central, 1-0, hits the road this weekend for games Saturday and Sunday against Gillette, Wyoming.
The Patriots, 0-1, will have a quick turnaround as they travel to face Sturgis tonight at 5 p.m.
"If you can show up the next night and forget about this night, the whole season can be different," Wright said. "If we show up and harp on this night and the first loss of the season, which a lot of teams do, then it can hurt you. We’ll hope for them to get over it quick and as long as our kids have a short term memory we’ll be fine."