TAMPA — At Wednesday’s practice, Wharton opted to focus on defense and didn’t do any hitting on the field.
Naturally, the Wildcats responded with a season-high 10 hits Thursday in a 14-4 drubbing of Steinbrenner that was halted an inning early because of the mercy rule.
“Shows you what we know,” Wharton coach Scott Hoffman joked. “We’ll probably have to skip hitting tomorrow, too, since we got our best offensive output of the year.”
All but one Wildcat had at least one hit and eight of the nine batters scored at least one run. Second baseman Brett Kaminski started off with a double to rightfield for Wharton (6-3), and he scored on a double steal of second and home. Steinbrenner (4-4) tied the game at 2 in the top of the second on a Sammy May single past the drawn-in infield, but the Wildcats responded in the bottom half of the inning with six runs, effectively putting the game out of reach.
Junior Tuck Neuhaus, a Louisville commit who started his career at Steinbrenner, broke the tie with a three-run home run over the leftfield fence.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of off-speed this year, and I saw a curveball, low and in, just dropped the bat head and drove it,” Neuhaus said. “I was on top of the world; it felt great.”
Wharton added four more runs in the fourth inning — all unearned — to take a 12-2 lead. The Warriors, though, extended the game with two runs in the fifth inning before Wharton ended it in the sixth, after a throw to complete a double play soared wide of first base.
There was no sign of the Wildcats’ recent issue — driving in runs once their hitters reach base. In fact, there wasn’t any issue, really, that bothered Hoffman.
“Anytime you put 14 runs on the board and you win,” he said, “it’s a good day.”