Redhawks pick up Irmo win

Eighth grader John Janco picked up his first career win as a Redhawk in Monday night’s game against Irmo. | Leroy Howard

BLYTHEWOOD – Westwood called upon an eighth grader to start on the mound against Irmo Monday night.

John Janco answered.

Janco pitched six-plus innings of 2-hit ball against the Yellow Jackets, and Westwood came up with enough run support to snap a seven-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory at Westwood Stadium.

“That kid’s awesome,” head coach Vince Connor said. “He’s got a lot of poise, throws three pitches for strikes, and to be honest, is probably one of the best pitchers in this area for his age. What kind of composure do you see out of an eighth grader like that?”

Janco and Irmo starter Lawson Lacomba blanked batters over the first couple of innings.

The Yellow Jackets got on the scoreboard in the top of the third.

Mason Lassiter led off with a single, moved to second on Jamie Coll’s sacrifice bunt, made third when Trent Polly reached on an error, and scored on Jackson Smith’s infield grounder. Janco then hit Payne Disque to put runners on first and third with two out.

That was the extent of drama that Janco allowed in the game. He got Isaiah Canty to fly out to retire the side.

“His nickname is Ice man, because you never know if he feels good or bad, it’s just all the same,” Connor said. “He’s a good example of what we’re trying to raise here as far as pitchers.”

Matthew Oxendine led off the bottom of the third with a single and moved to second when Lacomba hit Justin Davis. Both baserunners moved up on Joey Gonzales’ infield grounder, which set the table for Edwin Olmeda.

Olmeda swung on an 0-2 pitch and slapped a bouncing ball between Polly at shortstop and Austin Hinson at second. Both defenders had trouble getting to the ball, which enabled both Oxendine and Davis to score the go-ahead runs.

While Janco no-hit the Yellow Jackets in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, Westwood picked up a run in the fourth and a run in the fifth.

Ethan Barton led off the fourth with a single and scored on B.J. Williams’ one-out single to left to make it 3-1 Westwood. Williams made the second out of the inning when he tried for second but the Irmo outfield got the ball to Hinson at second in time.

Coby Buck ended the inning with a flyout.

Oxendine led off the fifth with a double, moved to second on Davis’ bunt and came home on a wild pitch as Lacomba faced Olmeda for the final run of the game.

Olmeda drew a walk and Brandon Anderson singled with two outs, which spelled the end for Lacomba.

The Irmo starter worked 4 2/3 innings, giving up all four runs on six hits. He struck out one and hit one batter.

“We’ve been swinging the bat a lot better,” Connor said. “But we’re still struggling to score consistently. But we’re swinging the bat better, running the bases better.”

Robert Wise came on in relief and worked 1 1/3 innings.

Janco kept going until Hinson led off the seventh with a single to left. Hayden Caldwell came on in relief and walked Aaron White, but got Mason Lassiter to fly out for the first out.

As Caldwell faced pinch hitter Tyler Ruff, White tried to steal second.

Catcher Coby Buck threw to second base high, causing Gonzales at second to leap up and save the throw from going into short center.

White slid underneath the throw, but at some point in the play, he was off the bag. By chance, as Gonzales came down with the throw and his glove tapped White on the head for the second out.

After Irmo head coach Bruce White argued the call briefly, Caldwell recovered and struck out Ruff, looking to end the game and earn the save.

The win puts a little distance between Westwood and its performance at the Seahawk Invitational in Hilton Head last week, where it lost all four games. Even with the losses, Connor can see the improvements in the team, evident in Monday night’s play.

“Unfortunately we’re just not winning a ton of ballgames,” said Connor, whose team improves to 6-13. “We keep telling them, all it’s gonna take is one (win) and we get hot, we’ll roll into the playoffs, then everybody’s even at that point.”

IHS – 0-0-1-0-0-0-0 – 1, 3, 1

WHS – 0-0-2-1-1-0-x – 4, 6, 1

WP: John Janco LP: Lawson Lacomba

Hitters: Westwood – Matthew Oxendine 2-3, 2B.