By Kim West
Bloopers, grand slams and balks — Mike Bishop has seen it all in his 17 years at the helm of the West Limestone baseball program, but Tuesday’s game was one he won’t be able to forget.
Senior Kyle Casteel went the distance in a classic pitching duel as the Wildcats claimed a 1-0 home victory against Class 4A, Area 16 rival Wilson on a blustery and cold Tuesday afternoon.
Casteel (2-0), a 6-foot-4-inch right-hander, struck out 11 Warriors while allowing three hits and only one walk in a 83-pitch, seven-inning performance, while Wilson ace Layton Pyler, a 6-foot-2 junior, tossed a complete game one-hitter.
“Kyle is my No. 1 pitcher, and he’s had two good games in his last two outings. He’s averaged striking out about 10 batters per game, and he’s really coming on now,” Bishop said. “He throws a fastball, changeup and a really good slider, and I think he should play college ball. Hopefully, he plays at the next level.”
West Limestone’s lone run came in the bottom of the fifth inning as speedster Drake Lopez drew a walk from Pyler, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Dillon Miller and then promptly swiped third base. Lopez finished off his small-ball trip around the bases by stealing home.
“It was a gutsy game, and we stole home to win the ball game. There were two outs and Drake has the most stolen bases on the team,” said Bishop, who joked the wintry conditions were more suitable for the gridiron. “I usually tell the team that we’ve got to make something happen (to score). We’ve stolen home three times in my career, and two of the three have worked. It may not work next time but it did this time, and that’s all that matters.”
Austin Tuten doubled in the fourth inning for the Wildcats’ only hit.
After starting the season 0-6 with four losses against 5A Athens and East Limestone, the Wildcats have won four of the past five games and are entering a nine-game stretch with eight area contests against Wilson, Central-Florence and Rogers in the next two weeks.
West (4-7) will host Wilson (10-11) at noon and 2 p.m. today. The Wildcats will play at No. 2 Central-Florence at 4 p.m. Monday. The Lauderdale County school eliminated West in the state playoffs last season.