Elmwood’s Ricky Buckingham connects with the ball in the top of the sixth inning of the Royals’ game at Lake High School on Wednesday. THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
MILLBURY — Elmwood had some defensive breakdowns, and starting pitcher Tayte Lentz struggled from the outset Wednesday in a Northern Buckeye Conference baseball matchup at Lake.
The host Flyers took full advantage while riding the pitching of junior Dylan O’Quinn to an 8-3 victory.
Lake (6-1, 2-0), which shared the NBC title last season with Elmwood and Eastwood, capitalized early in building a 7-1 lead after three innings, chasing Lentz (82 pitches) with no outs in the third.
“We took advantage,” 33rd-year Lake head coach Greg Wilker said of Elmwood’s mistakes. “It doesn’t matter the level, whether it’s high school or college or pro. You can’t give a team that fourth out. We try to take advantage of that, and they do too.
“We had some quality at-bats early and had some key hits. We’ve been swinging the bats real well.”
IN PICTURES: Lake 8, Elmwood 3
O’Quinn, a 6-foot-5, 255-pound right-hander, was the chief beneficiary. He struck out 10 Royals batters, walked one, and hit another in logging a complete-game five hitter to run his season record to 2-0.
“My first start [versus Wauseon] was a little rough, but we got the win and that’s all that matters,” said O’Quinn, who was most effective with his curveball.
“You’ve got to go out there and battle, throw strikes, and trust the teammates behind you. That’s really all I have to do.”
After Lentz hit Lake’s Scott Mackiewicz to lead off the bottom of the first inning, a fielding error by Royals third baseman Carter Taft allowed Jordan Bekier to reach, and Brandon Knieriem followed with a sacrifice fly.
Two batters later, Jarrod Hornyak gave Lake a 2-0 lead with a single to left field.
Elmwood (4-3, 0-2) answered with a run in the second. Josh Firsdon hit a one-out single to center and moved to third when Aaron Smith doubled to the gap in left-center.
Firsdon scored on a balk by O’Quinn.
Lentz also opened the second inning by hitting a batter (O’Quinn), then walked Lake’s No. 9 hitter, Luke Walsh. Mackiewicz followed with an RBI single to center, Walsh scored when Royals right-fielder Mason Lentz dropped Knieriem’s fly ball, and Mackiewicz came home on Jacob Lee’s RBI groundout.
By the time Tayte Lentz exited the mound four batters into the third, Elmwood had added two more errors to in helping the Flyers up their lead to 7-1.
Walsh, who singled in the third, later pounded a solo home run to left-center off of Royals reliever Tyler St. Clair.
“First-pitch fastball is always the best,” Walsh said of his home run swing. “It was a nice, sunny day, and I felt good at the plate.”
Elmwood added its other two runs in the sixth, when Jon DuVall reached on Lake’s only error of the game, St. Clair followed with a single, and Firsdon added a two-run double to center field.
The Royals could get no closer against O’Quinn.
“He’s got a nice breaking ball that keeps you off balance,” 30th-year Elmwood coach Kyle Reiser said of O’Quinn’s outing. “We’ve got some new people in new places, and we have to get them comfortable, or find other people.
“But, we told the kids, there’s a lot of teams that can beat a lot of teams in this league. So, we’ve just got to circle the wagons a little bit and try to come the next game and see what we can put together.”
Added Wilker: “I liked Dylan’s approach on the mound. He ran out of gas a little bit, so we’ve got to work on building the pitch count up. But it’s early in the season and he pounded the zone, and we made the plays behind him.”
O’Quinn threw 65 of his 95 pitches for strikes, and had just enough gas left in the tank to finish what he started.
“I have amazing respect for Elmwood,” O’Quinn said. “They’re a solid team, they have solid coaches, and they play the game the right way. To beat them is a good win.”