Wilhoite, Crusader baseball upends North Marion
Track and field is in Dorsey Wilhoite's blood, but baseball resides in his heart.
Jesuit, after a playoff-like battle with Class 4A favorite North Marion on Monday, is especially thankful for the latter.
Wilhoite, a whirling dervish of an outfielder with wheels for days, legged out a bases-loaded infield single with two outs in the bottom of the sixth to give Jesuit a 3-2 lead against the Huskies. And with reliever Ethan Wilson efficiently pounding the strike zone, the Crusaders ensured Wilhoite's clutchness held up, beating North Marion 3-2 in non-league action at Jesuit High School.
"I think (Wilhoite) is one of the fastest players in the state," Jesuit sophomore pitcher Mick Abel said. "I've known him since we were nine years old because we played Little League together and he's always been fast. I've always trusted his speed. If he lays down a bunt or has to beat out a throw, he's going to get there."
Wilhoite's last name should most definitely ring a bell around the Jesuit campus. Hadley, his older sister, was a state champion in the triple jump and now competes for Princeton University. Wilhoite's dad, Charles, ran track for Arizona State University and he has an uncle who competed in track and field for the University of Kansas. The family speed and athleticism gene were clearly passed down to Dorsey, the youngest of the three Wilhoite siblings. Watch the junior explode out of the batter's box and easily glide around the bases just once and you'll see the swift bloodlines. As a junior, Wilhoite was one of Jesuit's top pinch-running options off the bench who's now a regular in the lineup, running down balls in centerfield. On a Crusader team with a handful of all-league football players and future D1 baseball prospects, Wilhoite might be the best athlete. So, with his most of family preferring the oval as opposed to the diamond and a predisposed DNA to the jumping pits, why play baseball instead of track?
"Everybody tells me to run track, but with running, I just get bored with it, I want more," Wilhoite said with a smile. "Running in a line and then waiting three hours to run again is not my thing. I've played baseball for so long now and I just love the game. I like to play, I like to compete. I want to help out the team in any way I can and be in the lineup."
With the bottom of the order coming up in the sixth, David Arndorfer and Johnny Rutledge walked with one out. Joe Angeli hit a fielder's choice for the second out, but Trey Werner walked to load the bases with outs to bring up Wilhoite. As the ninth-place hitter, Wilhoite expected a heaping of fastballs from the Husky pitching staff. And with the bases loaded, the game tied and two outs, the senior jumped on the first fastball he saw in the sixth and pulled it to the right of the North Marion shortstop. The Husky infielder made a nice stop and quick throw to first, but Wilhoite had two steps out of the box on the ensuing heave and beat the toss.
Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Angeli led off the fifth with a double and danced down to third on a ball in the dirt. Then Werner walked. And Wilhoite put a sacrifice bunt down the first base side scored Angeli to make it 2-1.
"We had to do the small things — bunt, get walks — when we weren't hitting great," Wilhoite said. "We have a lot of athletes, a lot of skilled players. This is one the most athletic teams we've had in a while. If we can stay focused and get prepared, we'll do really well this season."
Jesuit junior Will Spitznagel, with Werner on third, split an off-speed pitch underneath the outstretched armpit of the Husky third baseman to even the game 2-2.
"Last year we were pretty passive at the plate, but this year we're a lot more aggressive and that's getting us hits and runs," Abel said. "We started slow, but once the fifth, sixth, seventh (innings) got going we started putting the gas on and started to roll. Those innings are the most important part of the game. That's what's going to get you runs and win you games."
Abel got the start on the bump and kept the Crusaders in it for five innings despite two Jesuit errors and an unearned run. But the sophomore leaned on his defense and let them makes plays, which Spitznagel, Kevin Blair, Ennis Ferguson and James Porter did around the infield.
"I tried to pump strikes, pound the zone and hopefully that would carry me," Abel said. "We did a really good job defensively, especially at third base and shortstop, and getting those throws across the infield. And James (Porter) did a great job at first base picking those throws. I like our defense right now."
Wilson entered the game in the sixth and shined, throwing two shutout innings while allowing just one hit with no walks and two strikeouts. The sophomore came out of the bullpen and earned the win for the Crusaders who have started the season 4-2 overall.