Wildcats bounce back

Millard West baseball takes down the number one team in the state after losing four straight games


Photo by Reese Peterson

Junior Jaxson Cahoy pitching early in the game against Millard South. He finished the day only allowing one hit and 11 strikeouts. “After the four losses, our mentality switched as soon as the week started,” Cahoy said. “I think it meant a lot to the seniors, considering it’s their last year and for the other guys with Millard South being our rival made them want to win just as bad as everyone else.”

Jonathan Willis, Striv Executive Producer

The varsity boys baseball team faced off against their Q Street rival on April 14. Both teams went into the game ranked in the Top 10, Millard West was ranked ten with an 11-6 record while Millard South was ranked first in Class A. 

Millard South was coming off of a championship win in the Frank Ryan Invitational against Westside 10-2, proving they were currently the best team in the state. The Wildcats, however, had struggled the last week, losing four straight games to teams currently ranked in the top ten. West had a perfect opportunity to bounce back after the long weekend though against this great team. 

“The way we played last week wasn’t an indicator on how talented this team is,” head coach Steven Frey said. “We were telling the team that we need to stay positive. Anytime you have good pitching and defense, our hitters are going to start coming through.”

Going into the game, two great pitchers were set to face off in this Q Street clash. Junior Jaxson Cahoy went into the game with the best ERA (earned run average) out of starting pitchers on the team with 20 strikeouts. Junior Braden Sweet was 1-0 on the season for South with a 1.14 ERA. 

These two pitchers did not disappoint. No runs were scored in this game for five and a half innings. Cahoy started out hot in the first inning with a strikeout, but then allowed the bases to be loaded. The Patriots had their only hit of the game in this inning. The Wildcats were able to get out of it though with a double play on a soft hit. Sweet faced a similar situation in the bottom of the inning with runners on second and third and nobody out but was able to get out of that as well with some great plays by his infield. 

After the few struggles Cahoy had in the first, he absolutely took over for the rest of the game. He didn’t allow a single base runner after that first inning, getting 18 straight outs on the Patriots. He had at least one strikeout in each inning and didn’t allow one of the best hitting teams in Class A to even see the bases for the rest of the game. 

There were a few times when Cahoy had gotten behind in the count but was able to fight back each time and end the at bat. His arm just seemed to get better throughout the game, and he left one of the best pitching performances on the diamond in Millard West history. 

Going into the game, I knew they were going to be good, but I knew I had to be better and that was my mentality for the entire game,” Cahoy said. “The key was just knowing that I had a great defense behind me, and we just left our trust in one another to be there for each other.”

On the other end, even though Sweet only allowed one earned run, the Wildcats were moving on the bases. The Wildcats had runners on second and third in the first three innings and weren’t able to capitalize. In the bottom of the third, West had junior Drew Borner and senior Corbin Hawkins on the bases with only one out, but Sweet was once again able to find his way out of it, with a strikeout and a flyout. Sweet was able to take over in the fourth and the fifth, keeping the score where it was with a little bit of help from his fielding. The score was still 0-0 headed into the bottom of the sixth, and West was looking to finally break the tie. 

Hawkins was able to force a walk and senior Cade Owens advanced him with a single to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Those two base runners took Sweet out of the game, and the Patriots put in junior Nate Moquin. Senior Ben VanRooyan then popped out, and that brought up senior Ty Kalb with two runners on and one out. He hit a hard ball into right field that was far enough into the outfield to score Hawkins from second; Millard West finally took the lead. West was able to get two more runs by some fielding mishaps by the Patriots, and junior Maddux Fleck was able to outrun a throw to first to score another run to put the Wildcats up 4-0, adding some insurance headed into the seventh. 

“That was just one of those moments that I will never forget,” Kalb said. “I’m glad I could help us get the win. I was looking for the ball right down the middle and the pitcher gave it to me so I took advantage of it and smoked one down the line. It was really exciting to have my teammates hyping me up the rest of the game.”

Frey left Cahoy on the mound to finish the job, and he did not disappoint. The first out came on a flyout to center, then Cahoy got a strikeout, and he finished it off with a flyout to right field, giving Millard West the win and Cahoy the complete game shutout. 

Cahoy got the win for West with seven innings pitched, only one hit allowed and 11 strikeouts. Sweet had the loss on the mound for South with 5.0 innings pitched, five hits, one earned run and five strikeouts. The Wildcats improved to 12-6 on the season while the Patriots dropped to 15-3. 

“We just had to think of what we needed to do better after losing four in a row,” Frey said. “We know that we’re a better team than that, we just had to go out and show it on the field. We had some chances early in the game, and we needed to get more confident at the plate, but as soon as Ty hit that single down the line, it sparked something. We need to have that energy for every game, not just when it’s the rival down the street.” 

Millard West will have the opportunity to play South again in the Metro Tournament starting this week, but they start off playing Gretna on April 15 at 3:30 p.m.