After starting the season 0-5, the Hammond baseball team had plenty to be discouraged about. But with seven new starters in the line-up, second-year coach Casey Medairy knew it was only a matter of time before his team began to heat up.
And after beating Wilde Lake (2-4), 10-2, on Tuesday, and Long Reach (2-5), 7-2, on Wednesday, it seems that the Golden Bears' time is now.
"We look like a whole different ballclub," Medairy said. "We're just kind of learning the ropes with the new guys coming up from the JV, they're still learning how to play varsity caliber baseball."
One new member of the varsity, third baseman Andy Weaver, is certainly finding his stroke.
The junior drove in four runs with a single, double and a homer on Tuesday, then drove in five more runs with a single and two doubles on Wednesday.
"I love coming up with runners on because thats RBIs all day," Weaver said. "I like being clutch for my team. That's what I'm known for."
Weaver's bases loaded, three-run double with two outs in the top of the fourth on Wednesday essentially puthis team ahead 7-0.
"He looks so comfortable at the plate," Medairy said. "It's a big change from the first few games to now."
DaVonn Griffin (3 R), Tony Terrasa (1-2, 2 RBI, R) and Tyler Martin (1-2, 2 R) also drove the Golden Bears offense, while senior lefty DeWayne Richard earned the win, pitching six shutout innings (7 H, 3 BB, 5 K).
Long Reach put runners on base in every inning except for the second, but hamstrung itself with a lack of clutch hits, watched third strikes (3) and base running gaffes (2 caught stealing), stranding 10 baserunners in the game, including three in the first inning.
"We didn't do our job to put the ball in play when we needed to," coach Mike Repsher said. "As a ballclub we're good enough to cash those guys in. Put a ball on the right side and move a runner over when we need to. When you get behind seven there's no excuse for getting picked off first base ... our guys are better than that."
Leadoff man Kyle Fleisher (3-4, RBI, R) led the Lightning offense with two doubles. Chris Wessels, who homered twice in an opening day loss to St. Mary's, singled and walked twice, and pitched four strong innings of relief.
JD Huffman (H, RBI), Nate Lobdell (2 BB), Giovanny Saenz-Diaz (2-4) and Joe Grabowski (H, R) also produced in the Lightning offense. Grabowski also made a scintillating play deep in the hole at second base to end the fifth inning without allowing a Hammond baserunner.
The Lightning have won only four league games in the four seasons before this spring, but Repsher is holding this club to a higher standard.
"What we've been stressing to the kids is just a change of attitude, that we're not the same team that we have been," Repsher said. "We have more talent, we're a better team overall, and they need to start carrying themselves that way and have confidence to make plays. We're putting pressure on our seniors to make that change, to be leaders and show guys the right way to do things. So we're a work in progress."
Hammond, meanwhile, will try to win its third in a row at River Hill tomorrow.
"We're starting our win streak, second in a row, and we can just keep on rolling," Weaver said. "That first week was tough but we can definitely bounce back."
Ha (2-5) 130 300 0 - 7 6 0
LR (2-5) 000 000 2 - 2 10 2
Richard, Witt (7) and Terrasa. Siegleman, Wessels (4) and Huffman.