Kissack pitches, hits Marengo past Harvard

MARENGO – Koty Kissack’s transition to becoming Marengo’s leadoff hitter has been smooth and effective.

Indians baseball coach Josh Maas hesitated using Kissack, his best hitter, as the leadoff man, but a recent offensive slump prompted a little lineup shuffle.

“We really struggled. We were having trouble getting guys on base,” Maas said. “Koty’s a great athlete, so when he does get on base we can get a little creative on the basepaths.”

Kissack was as adept at getting on base as he was keeping Harvard’s batters off base Tuesday. He was 2 for 3 and scored twice while striking out 10 and firing a four-hitter for a 6-0 Big Northern Conference East Division victory at Rod Poppe Fields.

“[Leadoff] is really good. I go up there and see a lot of pitches,” Kissack said. “I take more and try to see more pitches.”

The Indians (8-10 overall, 4-6 BNC East) have scored 17 combined runs in three games since Kissack moved from No. 2 to leadoff. Former leadoff man Noah Klick was 3 for 3 in the No. 6 spot with two doubles.

“It was a change in the lineup that really worked out,” Klick said. “Leading off I was looking to get on base more. Now I’m looking to hit the ball hard. I was seeing pitches better today. I was swinging out of the zone [before]. We came around together as a team and got out of that slump.”

Klick almost had three doubles. On his last hit, he was almost halfway to second before retreating to first with an RBI single.

Marengo rapped out 10 hits, including four doubles, and scored five earned runs off Hornets starter Peyton Schneider in five innings. Meanwhile, Kissack was mowing down Harvard hitters.

“[Kissack] attacked the strike zone,” Maas said. “He was attacking the strike zone and letting his defense play. That was probably the most complete game we played all year. Peyton’s a heck of a pitcher. I thought we had really good approaches at the plate on him. That’s the most impressed I’ve been with us all year.”

Kissack singled and scored on Justin Vogel’s single in the first. Kissack walked to lead off the third and scored on Vogel’s double. Ethan Walsweer doubled in Vogel and Klick doubled in Walsweer for a 4-0 lead.

“Peyton was leaving the ball up a little today,” Hornets coach Donnie Nolen said. “He was constantly in three-ball counts, and that’s not good for him. We didn’t play the defense we’ve been playing behind him either. The defense has to be perfect when you’re not getting any offense.”

Kissack (3-3) finished with 104 pitches and two walks, both in the fifth when Harvard (8-12, 2-8) left the bases loaded.

“It was the outside corner and our defense,” Kissack said. “Our defense was really good, they did a great job reading fly balls. That was one of the better [starts]. All the offspeeds and changeups were working, and the fastball was coming in hot.”

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