SADLER — After a perfect 5-0 start the season, the Gunter Tigers ran into some speed bumps over the weekend as they hosted a tournament.
They won just two of six games, although each of the losses came against programs in bigger classification.
But it is that type of adversity Gunter isn’t afraid to face.
“We try to face good pitching in non-district so it prepares us for the Pottsboros, Whitesboros and whoever we’ll see in the playoffs,” Tigers head coach Kerry Clement said. “We don’t shy away from it.”
Gunter showed off some strong pitching of its own as it got back on track with a 12-0 victory in five innings over S&S in the District 9-3A opener.
Brooks Caple and Harrison Fox combined on a no-hitter with 11 strikeouts and two walks — the only two Rams to reach base.
Fox also went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBI and scored twice and Ethan Watson was 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI for Gunter (8-4, 1-0), which snapped a modest two-game losing streak with its third shutout of the season. The Tigers will compete in the Windthorst Tournament starting Thursday before getting into district play full-time next week.
“When we get into playing two games every week, we’ll be on a normal schedule and be in a good place,” Clement said. “We have four pitchers that are pretty good and we’ve hit the ball pretty well all year long.”
Colt Belcher and Cooper Herron had the walks for S&S (4-4-1, 0-1), which is comprised mostly of sophomores and does not have a senior on the roster. The Rams have already won more games than last season and will try to improve on their last-place finish in the district standings.
The Tigers returned seven starters from a group which finished 26-10 and reached the region semifinals.
“They expect to make a deep run like every year,” Clement said. “That’s just Gunter baseball.”
They also want to improve on a third-place finish in the district standings.
Gunter scored double-digit runs for the fifth time thanks to a seven-run second inning. Fox opened the inning with a double into the left-field corner, moved up on a groundout and scored on Caple’s RBI double to straightaway center.
Teige Harris reached on an error and Bryson Rigsby walked to load the bases before Watson cleared them with his double to left for a 5-0 advantage.
S&S had a chance to hold the margin there but a fielder’s choice did not result in the final out of the inning. Kyle Ball followed with an RBI double to left center and Fox drove in two with a hit to center and it was 8-0.
That was more than enough support for Caple and Fox. Caple got the start and struck out eight in three innings — he issued both walks and Cassyn Graham’s foulout to first was the only time S&S put the ball in play against Caple.
“He threw strikes,” Clement said. “That’s the biggest thing.”
Fox retired all six batters he faced with three strikeouts and a pair of groundouts. Josh Pittner’s flyout to center was the only ball by the Rams to leave the infield.
Gunter enacted the run-rule with four runs in the fourth. Ball led off with a walk, Zander Turner had a one-out infield single and then Colton Jolly and David Denton had back-to-back RBI singles.
Jolly scored on a wild pitch and the Tigers closed out the scoring with a run on an error.
The Tigers started the scoring with a two-out rally in the first. Garrett Vogel was on second after an error and Nash Daniel followed with a single behind shortstop to put Gunter on the board.