High School baseball: Tipp trying to live up to top ranking

TIPP CITY – The Tippecanoe Red Devils sat atop the first Division II high school baseball state poll released last week. Red Devils coach Bruce Cahill appreciated the respect from state coaches.

Now he hopes his Red Devils can live up to that high ranking.

“It’s nice to have recognition, but we have to start playing up to that level. We’ve got a long way to go,” Cahill said. “I don’t know if we’ve even played our best baseball.”

Tipp entered this week 14-0 overall and 11-0 in the Miami Valley League. The Red Devils dropped their first game of the season Monday, losing 11-9 to Troy (10-6, 10-3 MVL).

Offensively, senior Jonny Baileys has been blazing on the basepaths. He’s hitting .605 with 15 of his 23 hits going for extra bases.

Baileys’ six triples set a new single-season record, breaking a tie with Steve Barhorst (1990) and Matt Barhorst (2000). Baileys’ 35 runs batted puts him No. 8 for a season and within reach of Jon Slaughter’s record of 49 in 2000.

He also has six doubles and two home runs.

“He’s an RBI machine,” Cahill said. “If he continues what he’s doing there he’s going to break the RBI record and who knows what else.

“He’s one of best hitters we’ve had in a while, I’ll say that. I’ve never had a player that over 12 games has done what he’s done. He’s on an incredible streak right now.”

Junior Jacob Bowerman (.440), senior Braydon Bottles (.381), senior Jake Smith (.375), sophomore Max Dunaway (.370), junior Matt Salmon (.357) and senior Aidan Heffner (.346) are among those also providing offensive support.

The Red Devils are No. 2 in the MVL with a .363 average, trailing Butler’s .401 pace.

On the mound, Tipp’s 2.15 earned-run average is also second to Buter’s 1.46.

Salmon leads Tipp with a 5-0 record and 0.00 ERA. He has a team-high 46 strikeouts in 30 innings pitched.

Baileys (2-0, 2.47), junior Mason Hughes (3-0, 1.80), Bottles (2-0, 1.10) and senior Troy Taylor (2-0, 9.10) have combined for a solid staff.

“(Bottles) has definitely improved since last summer when I saw him pitch,” Cahill said. “Now if we can get Troy Taylor on track. Troy was supposed to be our No. 2. If we get him on track and four or five guys throwing well that will make a huge difference.”

Defensively, Tipp has struggled despite its undefeated record. The team committed eight errors in a 12-6 win against Piqua on April 14, and has made 21 errors in its last seven games.

“Right now everything is focused on us winning one at a time and getting better,” Cahill said. “Shoot, I’ll take a loss if I knew we played well and didn’t have five errors in a game. I just want to start playing better baseball.

“I think our case (not having a season in 2020) plays into (inexperience). I think 25 or 30 more games would have helped. Some of our kids don’t play in the summer. For some of our kids it’s been two years since they played baseball.”

In addition to that No. 1 state ranking, Tipp also recently celebrated Cahill’s 700th career victory. Entering Tuesday’s game vs. Troy, he is 706-294 in his 36th season.

“It’s just a number, I guess,” said Cahill, who is No. 11 on the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s career wins list. “I’ve coached a long time and we’ve had great kids in our program for years. I’m pretty happy.”

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