After splitting a pair of recent 4-3 decisions, an early 6-0 deficit did not deter Sharon High’s baseball team.
Scoring 9 runs in its final 3 at-bats Monday afternoon, the host Tigers toppled West Middlesex, 9-7, at Johnny Pepe Field in a Region 2-AA backyard rivalry.
“We’ve played 10 games this year now, and six of them have been (decided) by one run,” Tigers’ taskmaster Mike Tomko noted. “(Mon)day, we squeaked it out with two, but the kids know that going in, that we’re gonna be in a tight game. They’ve been in enough of them and they’re accustomed to tight games.”
Through 3 innings Middlesex’s Mike Ginther, the senior southpaw, silenced Sharon, striking out the side in the 2nd stanza. The Tigers’ lone baserunner, Leo Rahn, reached via a 1-out walk in the 3rd on a 3-2 pitch.
However Sharon (5-2, 6-4) got to Ginther in the 4th frame. Josh Nichols reached on a bad-hop grounder to open the inning, and by the time it ended the Tigers batted around and halved their deficit to 6-3. RBI-singles by Vinnie Shaffer, Andrew Tomko and Leo Rahn highlighted the frame.
Sharon surged to a 7-6 edge in the 5th, though the Big Reds blew up, as 2 Middlesex miscues and a passed ball contributed to the Tigers’ 4-run frame. Nick Carlo contributed an RBI-single after Nichols again started the inning reaching on an infield hit, then moving into scoring position on Ginther’s throwing error.
Maintaining a 6-4 margin, veteran Middlesex mentor Jerry Novosel called on righty Mark Colella to relieve Ginther. But lefthanded-hitting pinch-hitter Matt Wallace whacked a a sac-fly RBI to left.
Colella appeared to be out of the inning with a 6-5 lead after striking out Daniel Vanderslice. But the righthanded-hitting Tomko’s 2-out fly ball to right drifted toward the line and was misplayed, allowing Shaffer to tally the Tigers’ tying run. The 3-base error set up Sharon’s go-ahead run, as Leo Rahn ripped a run-scoring single to right-center, staking Sharon to a 7-6 edge.
Middlesex mustered the equalizer in the 6th stanza on back-to-back singles by Brandon Dick and Jarrod Palmer, Dom Pape’ss perfect sacrifice bunt, and Colella’s bad-hop RBI-single.
But in Sharon’s 6th, Nichols’ 1-out single in the hole and Carlo’s single down the line past 3rd baseman Riley Atterholt set the Tigers’ table. Shaffer’s fielder’s choice grounder scored the go-ahead run, then Wallace whacked a 2-out single to left center. Shaffer, never slowing, advanced to 3rd, then scored when the subsequent throw from the outfield sailed awry.
“We like to creat pressure and be aggressive,” Tigers taskmaster Tomko related. “If they throw us out, that’s gotta be on me. But I tell the kids, ‘We’re gonna run the bases aggressively.’ ”
Righty reliever Shaffer earned the win. Though Atterholt annexed a 1-out single, Shaffer set down Aaron Webb on strikes, then retired Dick, hauling in the game-ending pop-up.
“He’s been known to do that. When we need to get four, five outs at critical times, we like going to him,” Tomko said of Shaffer. “He nibbles and he gets outs for us.”
“We’re still a game outta first to Sharpsville ... in second place” Tomko noted, “but Wednesday starts the second half of the (region) season, so this is a good jump-start. We have Hickory on Wednesday (following today’s non-league game with Brookfield), then we’re right back into the fight.”
Middlesex (3-4, 4-4) mauled Sharon starter Cody Frazier. The Big Reds rolled to 6 straight 1-out 1st-inning hits, including RBI-doubles by Christian Porterfield, Colella and Sage Pope, sandwiching Trey Staunch’s run-scoring triple. The Reds added a 2nd-stanza singleton on consecutive hits by Porterfield, Colella and Staunch for a seemingly safe 6-0 lead.
But Frazier found his rhythm, shutting out Middlesex in the 3rd, 4th and 5th frames. He actually needed only 4 pitches to retire the Reds in order in the 4th.
“He got hit hard the first inning, (the Big Reds) hit the ball real well. But he settled in after that, gave up only one after that, then he settled in and kept us in the game,” Tomko praised.
“It’s a good region win. ... I’m real proud of them,” Tomko summarized. “They could’ve easily folded like a house of cards, but they came back and battled.”
Notes: The right-handed Frazier’s 5 frames included 77 pitches (49 strikes), 12 hits and 6 runs allowed with 2 strikeouts. Shaffer’s 2-inning stint showed 24 pitches, 17 for strikes. Ginther gave up 6 runs on 6 hits, striking out 7 and walked 4 in 4-plus frames (89 pitches, 60 strikes). ... the Big Reds ripped 16 hits, including 3 apiece by Colella and Staunch and 2 apiece by Palmer, Porterfield, Pope and Atterholt who had a 1st-inning RBI-single. ... Sharon’s 9 hits included Nichols’ 3 and 2 each from Carlo and Leo Rahn. Nichols and Shaffer scored 3 runs each. ... Sharon’s 2 most-recent games included a 4-3 setback at Shenango, preceded by a 4-3 win over Rocky Grove. In the win, Carlo clubbed a single and home run and Nichols notched a double in support of winning pitcher Louis Wareham. Starter John Thiel tossed 3 effective innings, and Shafer secured the 2-inning save. In the loss, Joey Rahn recorded 5 innings at the start, while Carlo relieved. Justin Stefanowicz and Vanderslice singled twice apiece. — By Ed Farrell, Herald assistant sports editor.
ä McDowell 8, Grove City 1 — At Grove City’s Memorial Park, Cody Ballay fired a complete-game 3-hitter with 11 strikeouts and 3 walks as McDowell topped the Eagles (7-2).
Jake Wolf homered for McDowell, Jake Suppa singled and doubled, Brian Bohman collected 3 singles and Matt Hansen and Riley Warren had 2 singles each.
Dylan Osborne suffered the loss for GC. He fanned 1, walked 2 and gave up 4 runs on 2 hits in only 1 inning of mound duty.
Offensively for the Eagles, Doug Horner ripped a pair of singles and had an RBI.
ä Sharpsville 12, Mercer 5 — At Veteran’s Field in Brandy Springs Park, Mercer, Greg Popatak went 3-for-3 (solo home run, double) with 3 RBI and 4 runs scored in leading the Blue Devils (7-2) past the Mustangs.
Also for Sharpsville, Jalen Mockabee had 3 singles and 2 RBI, Mitch Fyffe ripped a pair of singles, Tanner Morris had 2 singles, doubled and drove in 3 runs and Tyler Wansack added an RBI single.
Jake Bulick pitched 4 2/3 innings for the win. He had a no-hitter through 4 innings and ended up 6 strikeouts and allowed 2 runs on 3 hits.
Ryan Thorn had 3 singles for Mercer and Landon Glass was the losing pitcher.
ä The Hickory-at-Reynolds game scheduled for Monday was postponed to today.
ä Hickory 3, Wilmington 2 — At New Wilmington, the Lady Hornets (6-1) plated a pair of runs in the top of the 6th inning and held on to edge the Lady Hounds.
Victoria Tomko drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI-double, which scored Hannah Gallagher. Danielle Collier went 2-for-4 with a single, triple and 1 RBI. Chelsea Marriott went the distance for Hickory. She struck out 5 batters, issued 2 walks and only allowed 5 hits.
Abby Sotter was tagged with the loss. She had 7 strikeouts, walked 3 and gave up 7 hits in pitching all 7 frames. At the dish for Wilmington, Chelsea Rogel ripped a 2-run double and Cassidy Marett doubled.
ä Lakeview 6, Grove City 4 (8 inn.) — At Stoneboro, GC scored 3 runs in the top of the 8th to take a 4-2 lead, but the Lady Sailors scored 4 in the bottom half of the inning to win it.
Katie Watts pitched all 8 frames for Lakeview. She fanned 11, walked 2 and yielded 7 hits. Natalie Grant and Katie McClelland both had RBI- triples for the Lady Sailors and Kala Mahen ripped an RBI-double.
Cassie Feather went the distance for GC. She struck out 8 batters, had no walks and surrendered 13 hits. At the plate for GC, Kristi Sestak was 3-for-4, including a double, with 2 RBI, Katie Maine had an RBI, Micaela King doubled and Taylor Shingledecker tripled.
ä Kennedy Catholic 3, Greenville 2 — At Buhl Park, the Golden Eagles improved to 3-3 with the close win over the Trojans.
Singles: Chad Ferguson (G) def. Nickolo Lima, 6-0, 6-0; Seth Jaussen (G) def. Andre Antonescu, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2; Jesse Kirila (KC) def. Joey Safner, 6-4, 6-0. Doubles: Stephens Edge-Drew Grabigel (KC) def. Jing Wu-Trent McErlane, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4; John McGonigle-Blase Hudson (KC) def. David Jeffries-John Stapchuk, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.