Karr baseball coach Donnie Russell has the same game plan going into every game, and he doesn’t make it a secret.
“Basically, we’re looking to come out and play fast,” he said. “We don’t have the big, strong guys, but we can run.”
The Cougars (12-5) used their overwhelming team speed to take down St. Martin’s 11-1 in a nondistrict game at Mike Miley Playground on Monday that was called after five innings because of the 10-run rule.
Karr scored 11 runs despite only registering five hits and got help thanks to seven walks and six stolen bases.
“We played pretty well today, and we were able to make things happen whenever we got on base,” Russell said. “We didn’t get a ton of hits today, but as long as we can put pressure on the defense with our speed, we can be dangerous.”
The Cougars didn’t waste anytime unleashing their speedy offensive attack on the Saints (7-5), racking up five runs in the second inning despite only having one hit — a bunt single by Jeff Pelrean.
Karr’s first run of the inning came from a bases-loaded walk by Tyree Thompson, which was followed by a bases-clearing error by St. Martin’s that allowed all three runners to score and give Karr a 6-0 lead.
Malik Shaheer’s RBI sacrifice fly ended the scoring in the inning for the Cougars and gave them a commanding 7-0 lead. They never looked back from there.
St. Martin’s got its lone run on an RBI single by Alex Happoldt to score Kevin Bird in the fourth inning to cut the lead to 7-1.
After a four-game losing streak ruined the team’s 9-1 start to the season, Karr has won back-to-back games in convincing fashion, and Russell said his team is starting to regain its confidence after a rough patch.
“We had some bad losses last week, but we had to put that behind us,” said Russell. “Our thing is getting off to fast starts. We have a bunch of young guys, so when they can get an early lead like they did today, they play more free and with more confidence.”
While speed on the base paths is always important for a small-ball team to be successful, another essential piece to the equation is strong defensive play. Thompson pretty much single-handedly took care of that on the mound.
The 6-foot-4 senior, who signed to play baseball and basketball at Northwestern State next year, threw five innings, allowing one run on four hits with nine strikeouts in only his second start of the season.
Thompson said he was happy with his performance on Monday, but he is still in the process of getting back to baseball form after being less than three weeks removed from the basketball season.
“I came out just wanting to throw strikes because I knew I wouldn’t have my best stuff this early in the season,” said Thompson. “My focus was just getting ahead on the count and forcing them to swing at my off-speed stuff once it got late in the count.”