By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
Galena coach Ken Cook has a simple explanation for his baseball team’s early success.
“Right now, our keys have been putting the ball in play and throwing strikes,” Cook said.
The Bulldogs are 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the CNC a year after finishing 7-11.
“So far we’ve been hitting the ball really well,” Cook said. “We’ve been putting the ball in play. We’ve been cutting down on our strikeouts so far.”
Galena is averaging 9.8 runs per game after single wins over Commerce, Independence and Fairland, a sweep of Columbus and a split with Southeast.
“We realize the tougher part of our schedule is yet to come,” Cook said. “We’re not trying to put the cart ahead of the horse.
“We got a tough schedule ahead of us. We can’t get too overly excited yet. We still have Frontenac, Riverton, Colgan, Girard and Baxter Springs. It’s a tough league.”
The difficulty of the conference is unquestioned. Frontenac has its nucleus back from last year’s Class 3A state championship team. St. Mary’s-Colgan and Baxter Springs have combined for 19 state championships since 1985. Riverton and Girard are perennial league contenders.
But the Bulldogs, who were picked to finish last in the CNC, have to be pleased with the start.
They opened league play by beating Columbus 7-1 and 10-7.
Galena split with Southeast on Monday, losing 2-0 before pounding out 11 hits to win the nightcap 14-2.
The Bulldogs have received strong pitching from Kyler Cook, Darrell Adams and Jace Burris with good defense behind them.
“The pitching has been great,” Cook said. “They’ve been throwing strikes and keeping us in the game. And we’ve played good defense all year. We’re eliminating the errors. We’re eliminating the mistakes.”
At the plate, Galena has had numerous players step up, including Alex Bryant, Trenton Little, Kyler Cook and Logan Johnson.
In the win over Southeast, Bryant led the Bulldogs with two hits and four RBI. Little had two hits and three RBI, while Kyler Cook recorded two hits and one RBI.
Galena, which won the 3A state title in 2010, will host this year’s regional that will include Caney Valley, Southeast, Cherryvale, Colgan and Riverton.
The Bulldogs will continue league play Thursday with a home doubleheader against the rival Riverton Rams (2-3, 2-2 CNC), who are coming a sweep of Baxter Springs on Monday.
“Riverton has a very good team,” Cook said. “We know that. We know their kids. We’ve had some great games over the years. Coach (Danny) Weaver and I are good friends. We’ve been battling for 12 years now. It’s always competitive.”