APPLETON - Ten minutes before Appleton North got on its bus for Tuesday's Fox Valley Association baseball game at Appleton West, Ian Gerrity was told he would be the starting pitcher for North.
Gerrity was somewhat surprised considering he pitched all of one inning so far on the season.
Nonetheless, Gerrity didn't let the start get to him. Instead he made sure he got to West, and boy, did he.
Gerrity allowed two hits and struck out two as the Lightning handled the Terrors, 10-0, in six innings in a battle of two of the top three teams in the FVA at Nienhaus Field.
"Any good team is only as good as its pitching and defense," North coach Dave Eagan said. "Ian threw 60 pitches in six innings. He threw strikes. He doesn't throw hard; he's a competitor. Then you play errorless ball against a pretty good coached team and you're going to be in the game."
North made sure Gerrity wouldn't start his first inning without a cushion. Clark Eagan greeted the first pitch of the game in the top the first inning and sent the ball over the right-field fence.
The Lightning (9-1, 9-1) scored two in the inning, which Gerrity appreciated.
"Takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders," Gerrity said. "That was a good start."
North's offense was solid, scoring in all but the third and fourth innings. Four players had at least two hits and Sawyer Schultz, the No. 9 hitter, smacked a three-run homer.
"We got some big hits and were able to use our legs to steal some bases and get into scoring position," Eagan said.
Notwithstanding, it was Gerrity's call to the mound which stood out. Nobody knew at the time, but the two first-inning runs were enough for him.
Gerrity didn't overpower West (6-3, 6-3), as the two strikeouts show, but he never let the Terrors string a serious rally together. Eagan said starting Gerrity was necessary.
"We threw four guys already this week and we have two more games this week," Eagan said. "We'll face one of the conference's best pitchers on Friday and I'm trying to save my ace for Friday. We have to piece things together in these five-, six-game weeks."
Because poor weather basically delayed the season for a few weeks, games had to be rescheduled and now teams are faced with finding pitching depth to deal with playing five or six games per week.
North showed Tuesday its depth is just fine and that's what will be needed to succeed this season.
"We started nine guys so far," Eagan said. "We have guys that throw strikes and make kids put the ball in play and have our defense make plays. Overall, the deepest pitching staff will win conference, not maybe the best team."
"We have to use a lot of arms," Gerrity said. "It's good we have a lot of depth."
Based on his start and the amount of games yet to play, Gerrity should get another start and he hopes for a repeat performance.
"I was excited," Gerrity said. "I hadn't been out there in a couple weeks. It was good to get the win."
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
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