CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Capital High baseball team didn’t exactly start the season the way it hoped to.
The senior laden Cougars limped out of the preseason to a slow start, but have been warming up of late.
The latest win came on Thursday evening as Capital rallied from an early deficit to claim a 6-4 win over Sissonville on Senior Night at Sam Carpenter Field.
Capital improved to 10-14, while Sissonville dropped to 14-11.
For the Cougars, the season defining moment so far, was an embarrassing shutout loss in the team’s final game of the Mingo Bay Classic in Myrtle Beach.
“At the beginning of the season we had some troubles and we just couldn’t find ourselves,’ said Capital’s Kaleb Kinder, one of nine senior starters in the lineup Thursday. “We took a bad loss down at the beach (14-0 to Washington) and we just came together as a team and said this is our year.
“Since that game, we’ve won seven out of 10.”
Capital Coach Robert Massey has been pleased with his team’s recent play, but still sees a lot of room for improvement.
“We’ve been preaching all year that this is a marathon and not a sprint,” Massey said. “We wanted to be playing our best ball in May, and it’s May. I don’t think we’re playing our best yet, but we’re playing the best that we’ve played as a whole.
“We’ve got a lot of things we can still improve on, but that’s a good thing and that’s why they call us coaches. We have to continue to do what we’re doing right now and continue to improve what we are doing.”
Kinder tossed six innings to pick up the win, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the left-hander.
Sissonville pounded out nine hits off of Kinder, but eight of those hits came in the first three innings, along with all four of the Indians’ runs.
The Indians scored single runs in the first and second innings, and plated a pair in the third, before Kinder found his groove.
Sissonville had just two base runners in the final four innings off of Kinder, and reliever Anthony Gavin, who picked up the save with a scoreless seventh inning.
“I started out pretty rough,” Kinder said. “I really didn’t get warmed up that well and then we had the big (Senior Night) presentation before the game. When I went out there and threw that first pitch, my arm just felt like I couldn’t find it.
I couldn’t find it for the first three innings and coach asked me if I was going to get it done. I told him they wouldn’t score again and they didn’t score again.”
Massey credited pitching coach Ryan Flanagan for Kinder’s turnaround.
“Kaleb didn’t have his best stuff, but he settled down,” Massey said. “Coach Flanagan teaches them that they’re not going to have their best stuff every night and that they’re going to have to make adjustments.
Kaleb did that tonight. He accepts coaching and he knew he had to make an adjustment and he helped us out and got himself a win on senior night.”
Sissonville started the scoring when Josh Landis singled home Jacob Fisher for a 1-0 lead. The Indians made it 2-0 in the second when Andy Minsker’s RBI single scored Houston Hill, who tripled two batters earlier.
Capital tied the game at 2 with a pair of runs in the home half of the second on RBI hits by Kinder and Rashaad Guerrant.
Sissonville regained the lead in the third on an RBI single by Zac Boggess, who also came around to score on a fielder’s choice by Hill.
The Cougars finished out the game’s scoring with a four run third inning, highlighted by a two-run single by Gavin. Kinder also had an RBI in the inning.
Like Kinder, Sissonville junior right hander JR Stricklen also settled down as the game went on. Stricklen allowed all seven of his hits in the first three innings, and retired the last 10 batters he faced.
“He pitched a real good game,” said Sissonville coach Kenny Harper. “The umpire, to me, was inconsistent. But like I tell the boys, that’s something you can’t control. You just have to adjust to it and make it work.
“He (Stricklen) was having trouble finding his spots early on. He’d get 0-2 on a batter and with the strike zone like it was, he’d have to put it down the middle. He had to give them something to hit and they hit the ball. That’s the way it goes.”
Harper was also pleased with the way his team played.
“You never, ever like to lose, but we played ball tonight and we hadn’t been doing that recently,” Harper said. “They’ve been getting down on themselves, but they didn’t tonight. We hit the ball good and we fielded it. We had a couple of mistakes, but those happen.”