Slugger Justin Myer swung himself out of a bit of a slump Thursday as the Fort Calhoun baseball team rocked Arlington, 15-5.
The Pioneer senior hit two homers — one over the fence and one within the confines — as coach Roy Prauner's team improved to 3-3. The Eagles, meanwhile, fell to 2-6 in defeat.
“Last night at practice we made some quick adjustments with a few drills and it really seemed to help out,” Myer said. “I'm seeing the ball a lot better. Lot more calm.”
To try and steady himself in the batter's box, the catcher has focused in on his breathing. As it turned out, he needed the extra air to close out Thursday's game by run-rule.
After clearing the left field fence on his first-inning homer, Myer was forced to sprint around the bags on an inside-the-park knock during the bottom half of the fifth inning. He slid face first into home plate, meeting teammate Jake Seina to celebrate once he got back to his feet. The winning pitcher viewed the mad dash with his very own eyes.
“I was watching the left fielder to see what he was doing, and I just saw him stand there and throw his hands up,” Seina said. “That's when I knew something good was going to happen.”
The Arlington outfielder lost the ball in the sun and Myer's run from home to home ended the game by 10 runs. Before Fort Calhoun could put the matchup away, though, the Eagles had battled back into it.
Trailing 6-1 after Myer's first homer, and RBI knocks by Declyn Otte and Seina, coach Tyler Stender's team scored its second run during the third inning. The Pioneers committed an error off of contact by Aiden Foreman, which scored Josh Miller.
Then, during the top of the fourth frame, the Eagles added two more runs to pull within 6-4. Kaden Pittman scored on another FCHS error — off of Braden Monke's productive swing at the plate — before Zach Vanek touch home off of contact by Tyler Ott.
“First time seeing the pitcher is always kind of tough,” Miller said. “But the second time through the lineup, we were getting on him more and just making solid contact.”
The momentum didn't last, though. The Pioneers answered the Eagles two with eight, jumping out to a 14-4 advantage. Three runs scored on a Seina swing before Tristan Fuhrman's RBI single, Austin Welchert's sac fly, Harrison Schmitt's RBI triple, Ty Hallberg's run-scoring single and another RBI single by Zach Faucher.
After the game, Seina revealed what he believes pushed Calhoun to so much offensive success against their Washington County neighbors.
“We're always about the energy in the dugout. That's our biggest thing,” the senior said. “When the energy is down, nothing really flows. But when the energy is up, and especially when one person just gets a routine groundball through the infield, everything just explodes.”
Positive energy has the Pioneers out to a 3-3 start this season.
“This year we're trying to have as much fun as possible after not having a spring season last year,” Myer explained.
Arlington, meanwhile, is experiencing growing pains. Miller knows the Eagles have talent, but, right now, they lack confidence.
“That'll come as the season goes on,” he said. “We'll get better.”