Ward, Patriots clip Jeeps in arms race

Rachel Mummey/The Herald
Heritage Hills sophomore Tyler Ward started Friday’s season-opening game in Lincoln City by hurling four perfect innings. Northeast Dubois broke up Ward’s spotless outing in the fifth, but Ward and reliever Dugan Kippenbrock combined to finish off a 3-1 Patriot victory. For a gallery of photos, click here.

Herald Sports Writer

LINCOLN CITY — Reach base. The goal seems simple. But Friday night at Patriot Field, accomplishing that task seemed extraordinary.


The reason for the above quandary was Tyler Ward’s ability to locate his pitches. The Heritage Hill sophomore tossed five no-hit innings. Northeast Dubois’ Gage Knies and Bryce Huebner, meanwhile, changed speeds successfully. The duo allowed just two hits.

All of this is why midway through Heritage Hills’ 3-1 win against Northeast Dubois, the scoreboard contained a whole lot of round numbers.

“I looked up on the scoreboard in the fourth inning and it was 0-0; I think we both were throwing no-hitters, actually,” said Ward (1-0), who struck out seven, walked none and allowed just one baserunner when he plunked Jace Terwiske to lead off the fifth inning. Ward also finished 1-for-2, including an RBI single in the fourth inning that scored Dugan Kippenbrock.  

Ward drove a full-count offering back up the middle and later scored in the inning off an error. Derek Kippenbrock finished off the three-run rally with an RBI groundout that plated Cody Seifrig.

Ward credited his defense as one reason why he didn’t even realize that when he hit Terwiske, it was the first runner he permitted. Guys were making plays and he was making pitches, he surmised, and laughed off the one Jeep he did allow to reach. The ball slipped, he said. No biggie, not when considering what all went right.

“I thought I located my pitches very well,” Ward said. “I didn’t use my curveball due to the weather so I’ve been working on locating my fastball and I get my changeup down and I thought I did a great job.”

“He can do a lot of good things out there for a youngster,” Heritage Hills coach Dave Sensenbrenner added. “He’s just going to get better and he’s going to have to be one of our leaders.”

Three errors hurt the Jeeps (1-1), though Northeast Dubois coach Brian Kirchoff was less concerned about that than his guys acting timid at the plate. The reason for the juxtaposition: aggressiveness. The Jeeps displayed that trait in the field but not at the plate.

They did, however, have a chance to tie the game in the sixth, when they loaded the bases with no outs. Dugan Kippenbrock, who tossed the final two innings for the Patriots (1-0), then struck out three of the next four batters, walking Terwiske in between to allow the one run.

“Offensively, Ward had a lot to do with how we threw the bats,” Kirchoff said. “I was a little disappointed in our aggression at the plate, I thought we should have been a little more aggressive. We gave ourselves a chance late and just didn’t cash in when we had a chance to put some runs up.”

Ward (58 pitches) came out after the fifth inning and Knies (43) was pulled midway through the fourth for the same reason. Each was on a pitch count. Knies (0-1) finished with three strikeouts and looked good, Kirchoff said, especially considering the junior is coming off ACL surgery and didn’t play the entire regular season for the Jeep basketball squad.

Huebner looked great in relief. In three innings, he didn’t allow a hit and also picked off Ward after walking him in the sixth.

“I just thought they were changing speeds real well,” Sensenbrenner said of Knies and Huebner.

Heritage Hills won’t have much time to rest, which is a good thing, Sensenbrenner said. His team will play 12 times in the next two weeks, including a home game today against Evansville Reitz.

“We haven’t had a lot of outside batting practice with live arms so I thought we were really jumping at the ball, which I certainly thought we would be,” Sensenbrenner said. “It’s going to take time. We play again tomorrow and we’ll see another arm tomorrow.”

“Our bats were coming alive due to just getting outside,” Ward added. “We’ve only been outside a couple times and it just takes time for the bats to get rolling.”

Contact John Patishnock at jpatishnock@dcherald.com

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