Mehlville baseball team builds momentum

By STEPHEN GLOVER

Momentum.

That’s what every coach wants going into district playoffs, and it appears that the Mehlville Senior High School baseball team has generated a little bit of momentum with a 9-1 win over Parkway North last week.

“I think we needed to get some wins under our belt before entering districts,” Mehlville head coach Jim Kern told the Call. “We’re starting to hit the ball well and we’ll need to hit the ball against Oakville in order to win.”

The Panthers (16-7, 4-4 Suburban West) got off to a slow start May 9 against Park-way North, but an eight-run outburst in the bottom of the fifth inning was more than enough to sink the Vikings.

“We started out slow, but we were hitting the ball well,” Kern said. “By the fifth in-ning, we were able to find some holes to hit the ball to.”

Mehlville starting pitcher Kevin Mahler gave up one run on five hits in five innings.

The junior hurler gave up just two walks and struck out seven as he improved his record to 3-1 with a 5.63 earned run average.

“Kevin had a very good game for us,” Kern said. “I think he’s going to give us a good outing every time he’s out there on the mound.”

Derek Hibdon relieved Mahler in the top of the sixth inning, giving up one hit. The senior relief pitcher walked one and struck out four in his eighth appearance of the season.

“Derek threw on Monday, and we thought we could get one inning out of him,” Kern said. “He pitched a very good game in those two innings.”

Mehlville’s Tom Case had a strong showing at the plate with a two-for-three performance with two runs scored and one run driven in. The junior third baseman is carrying a .237 batting average with 11 runs batted in. He currently leads the team in walks with 14.

“Tom’s been struggling average-wise, but has been hitting the ball hard all year long,” Kern said. “It’s really good to see him hitting the ball well because we’re going to need him in order to have success in districts.”

Another player who had a solid afternoon at the plate was junior outfielder Jason Nikolaisen, who went two for three with one run scored and one run batted in.

Nikolaisen also stole one base against Parkway North.

The Panthers were scheduled to face Oak-ville in the District No. 3 Tournament Tues-day — after the Call went to press.

The last meeting between the two schools saw Mehlville drop a 3-0 decision to Oakville on April 18.

“For us to do well in districts, we’re going to need to have solid performances offensively, defensively and on the mound,” Kern said. “We’re really going to need to use our pitching staff efficiently against Oakville.”