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- Written by Chris Case
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Thompson, Bouse dominate in playoffs held at Paul Bryan Field
Great pitching wins baseball games. It’s that simple. And the Cuba Wildcats have their fair share of great pitching this season. Which is why they are district champions for a fourth consecutive year.
The Wildcats earned an unprecedented fourth straight district title with a pair of dominating pitching performances from seniors Taylor Thompson and Ryan Bouse. Thompson and Bouse combined on the mound for a one-two punch that was nearly unhittable. The dynamic duo served up a combined 29 strikeouts over 14 innings of shutout baseball as the Cats took the Class 3, District 9 championship with wins over Dixon and Licking.
“We got good pitching from our guys. It has been a strength all year, and it helped us out in districts again,” said Coach Ken Hohe. “I thought both Taylor and Bouse brought their good stuff into the postseason, and that gave us a lift.”
The Wildcats played Dixon in the district semifinals, after the Bulldogs had defeated Bourbon to move on to the second round and Cuba had enjoyed a first-round bye.
The Cats scored three times in the second inning, and that would be enough to get past the Dogs, as Cuba rode Thompson’s arm to a 5-0 shutout. Cameron Williams led off the inning with a walk, Brendan Wild reached on an error, and then Ryan Weaver drove in two with a two-out single. Weaver scored on Thompson’s single two batters later.
Bouse added a fourth run in the third, after reaching on a single and stealing both second and third. He scored on Douglas Payne’s sacrifice fly.
Cuba got a fifth run in the sixth inning when Payne singled to lead off the frame and then scored on Weaver’s hit.
Thompson got the victory, striking out 15 Bulldogs and allowing four hits and one walk. Eight of the first nine outs for Thompson came via strikeouts.
Thompson, Bouse, and Payne all had singles against Dixon, while Weaver had two singles and three RBIs, batting eighth in the lineup.
In the championship game against Licking, Bouse wasn’t to be overshadowed by Thompson’s pitching performance in the earlier game. Bouse pitched a complete game, shutout victory against Licking and struck out 14 batters along the way.
The Licking team had knocked off the top-seeded Conway team in the semis for a second straight year, but they had their hands full against Bouse, who struck out the side twice in the game—one in the fourth inning and again in the seventh to close it out.
The game was scoreless through three innings, but Cuba broke out in the fourth for two runs on one hit and one walk. The Wildcats added three more runs in the fifth on back-to-back-to-back singles by Bryer Nash, Bouse, and Williams. The 5-0 lead would end up being the final score.
Bouse had worked out of a first inning jam that had the bases loaded and only one out. A fielder’s choice play at home and a strikeout finished the inning for Licking without their scoring.
Bouse gave up six hits and struck out 14 in the victory. He also had a single and a run scored for the CHS offense.
Nash had a double and single, Jacob Libhart tripled, and Williams, Payne, and Drew Layman all singled.