By Maurice Patton
CULLEOKA – Rip Baxter thinks his collection of pitchers may be the best in his 18 seasons as baseball coach at Santa Fe.
After his second no-hitter in as many weeks, senior Carter Seltz may be at the head of that collection.
Seltz struck out nine and allowed just two baserunners – Carson Lovell reached on what was ruled an error on leftfielder Peyton Gutierrez to lead off the second inning, and Josh Benderman was hit by a pitch with one out in the fifth – in the Wildcats’ 15-0, five-inning District 10-A victory Tuesday.
“I’ve really been excited for high school ball,” said Seltz, who blanked Hampshire on April 1, completing a league sweep of the Hawks following Josh Martin’s stellar start on March 29. “I’ve been playing travel ball, but I love playing with these guys.”
A transfer from Spring Hill, Seltz had to sit out his sophomore season and made one start on the mound last spring, defeating Cornersville. He’s making the most of his final year of high school ball before going on to play at Martin Luther (Minn.) College next year.
“My parents really push me hard. They want me to succeed, and I want to make this special for them,” he said. “They haven’t gotten to see me play much. I want to make it the best I can for them while I’m here.”
Seltz was solid Tuesday — striking out the side after Lovell reached, then adding a pair of strikeouts in each of the next three innings.
“With him and Josh, and with Peyton Wilhelm and Colton Steward behind them, this is the best pitching group I’ve had at Santa Fe,” Baxter said. “We’ve got four or five good arms you can run out there.”
The visiting Wildcats (7-3-1, 4-0), meanwhile, got all the offense they’d need in their first at-bat as Steward and Seltz each drew walks from Culleoka starter Peyton Adams. Wilhelm followed with a one-out base hit to load the bases, Logan Wilkins lifted a sacrifice fly to center field and Seltz scored on a fielder’s choice for a 2-0 cushion.
Wilkins added a two-run single in the second before Wilhelm doubled to key the three-run third, before Santa Fe drew five walks in a three-run fourth. In the fifth, the visitors strung together base hits by Ryan Seltz, Martin, Carter Seltz and Wilhelm for four runs.
The Wildcats put themselves in position to sweep the series with a 13-6 homefield win Monday.
“I told them coming down here, (Monday) doesn’t mean anything if you don’t follow it up,” Baxter said. “They did what we needed to do.”
Culleoka fell to 3-6 overall, 1-3 in league play, with the loss.
“We made errors (six), we had walks (13), we’re not hitting the ball,” Warriors coach Vince Springer said. “It’s frustrating. We’re better than that.”
Santa Fe 15, Culleoka 0 (5 inn.)
S 233 34 – 15 10 1
C 000 00 – 0 0 6
Carter Seltz and Peyton Wilkins. Peyton Adams, Jaxon Davidson (3), Colton Tullis (4) and Jack Luna. W: Seltz. L: Adams.
Photos by Chris Yow / SM-Tn Sports