It was a tense Tuesday in Tiger-town.
Twenty-four hours removed from a 1-run Region 2-AA loss at New Wilmington, Sharon High’s baseball team could not afford another setback, otherwise its postseason aspirations were alleviated.
Conversely, region pacesetting Sharpsville could have secured the crown with a win, and the Blue Devils dashed to an early 3-0 lead.
But with a springtime storm spawning, the Tigers tallied twice in the 3rd, then posted a 3-run 4th frame en route to a 5-4 win at Johnny Pepe Field.
“We can’t afford another loss. If (the District 10 committee) takes three teams, hopefully, we’re the third team,” Tigers’ taskmaster Mike Tomko mused.
Entering the day, Sharon (8-4, 9-7) was stalemated with Wilmington and West Middlesex for the runner-up berth behind Sharpsville (10-2, 12-4). Sharon’s season concludes with games against Reynolds and Middlesex.
“We’ve still got a long way to go ... we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Tomko admitted.
The Tigers had taken a 5-4 lead through 4, but the Blue Devils seemed bent on an outburst in the 6th.
Ross Llewellyn drew a leadoff walk from Sharon starter Cody Frazier, who then plunked Jake Bulick with a 1-2 pitch. Reliever Daniel Vanderslice enticed Bryan Stafford to fly out to right, with Llewellyn advancing to 3rd. Mitchell Fyffe drew a 1-out walk, loading the bases.
Sharpsville seemed secured of at least the tying and perhaps potential go-ahead runs with prolific Greg Popatak poised at the plate. In Sharpsville’s 2-run 1st frame, Popatak pounded the 1st pitch he saw from Frazier over the right-center field fence. Subsequently, he singled and walked.
Essentially, Sharon’s season was on the line, and the Tigers’ minimal margin for error meant a miracle was mandatory.
On Vanderslice’s 2-0 pitch, the lefthanded-hitting Popatak sliced a shot down the 3rd-base line. It was speared on one hop by 3rd baseman Vinnie Shaffer, who stepped on the bag for a force out, then threw across to 1st baseman Mike Songer to complete the inning-ending twin-killing.
“ ... That’s their big hitter. Boy, what a great out,” Tomko gushed.
“(Popatak) hit the ball hard. Outside fastball, and he went with it. But Shaffer ... he’s a heckava player,” praised gracious Sharpsville skipper Mike Sikorski.
Steady rain already had started, but no electricity, so play was not interruped.
In Sharpsville’s 7th Vanderslice surrendered Tyler Wansack’s 1-out single, which was sandwiched by a pair of fine running catches by Sharon center fielder Justin Stefanowicz. Vanderslice saved the win for Frazier by getting mound counterpart Taylor Lenzi to lift a fly to right.
Lenzi-led Sharpsville was sitting on a 3-0 lead, before the Tigers tallied. Shaffer’s 1-out double was sandwiched by walks to Frazier and Nick Carlo (intentional). Songer singled for 1 run, then Stefanowicz scored Shaffer with a sac fly.
Bryan Stafford’s 2-out RBI-triple to right-center staked Sharpsville to a 4-2 lead in the 4th frame, but the Tigers tallied a trio in their half, aided by a pair of Blue Devils’ errors.
Shaffer slammed his 2nd double, a 2-run bases-loaded shot to left center, though Josh Nichols was nabbed at the plate. But Carlo clutched up with the eventual game-winner on a 2-out single in the hole, scoring Shaffer.
“ ... I think it’s a different outcome if we field the ball ... you can’t win ballgames, tight ballgames, doing that,” Sikorski said.
Lenzi lasted the distance. His 89-pitch outing (61 strikes) included 4 walks and 7 hits allowed, and he fanned 4.
The Blue Devils have to defeat West Middlesex and/or Mercer to claim the crown.
“All in all it’s been a good season,” Sikorski summarized. “We’ve just gotta move on and learn from this. We know we’ve got a target on our back, but I think it drives you, and it’s a good thing to have, for sure.”
“(Monday) night we lost a one-run game, and (the Tigers) were licking their wounds (Monday) night and thoughout the day in school (Tuesday),” Tomko related, emphasizing, “but they bounced back.”
Notes: Stafford had a stellar game. In addition to 2 hits, a run scored and ribbie, defensively he gunned down 2 Tigers base-stealers in the 2nd stanza. He was on the receiving end of cutoff man Fyffe’s relay throw from center fielder Wansack, which nailed Nichols. ... Wansack whacked 2 hits and drove in a run with a sac fly. ... Frazier, in 5-plus frames (92 pitches, 54 strikes), whiffed 3, walked 4 and hit a batter. — By Ed Farrell, Herald assistant sports editor.
ä Reynolds 8, West Middlesex 3 — At West Middlesex, the Lady Raiders (6-2, 7-6) beat the Ms. Reds to force a 3-way tie for 1st place in Region 1-A play with WM and Sharpsville.
Hailey Gearhart pitched 5ìinnings for Reynolds. She fanned 4, walked 4 and gave up the 3 runs on 6 hits. Paige Baker, who had missed 2èweeks with a sprained MCL, made her return to the field and closed it out with 15 pitches. Offensively for Reynolds, Baker had 3 singles, Kristen Shearer doubled and singled and Autumn Babcock ripped a pair of doubles.
Jordyn Allen went the distance on the mound for WM. She struck out 3, issued 2 walks and gave up 10 hits. Jade Kroesen tripled and singled for the Ms. Reds, and Aly Andrusky doubled.
ä Sharon 4, Lakeview 1 — At Stoneboro, the Lady Tigers scored 3 runs in the top of the 7th inning to earn the victory over the Lady Sailors.
Gabby Gadola went the distance for Sharon. She struck out 7 batters, issued no walks and gave up 7 hits. Offensively, Gadola doubled, Aubriana Dellibovi had 2 singles and an RBI, Mallory Torr drove in a run with a sacrifice and Kristina Jacoway stole 3 bases.
Kala Mahen pitched all 7 frames for Lakeview. She fanned 11, walked 3 and surrendered 6 hits. Mahen and Katie Watts had 2 singles each and Katie McClelland drove in a run.
Sharon skipper Mike Bochert said his Lady Tigers (4-3, 8-6) are in contention for a Region 2-AA playoff berth with 4 games remaining.
ä Hickory 6, Conneaut Area 4 (9 inn.) — At Hermitage, the host Lady Hornets were knotted at 4, before Mikhaila Layshock launched a game-winning, 2-run, walkoff home run.
Chelsea Marriott (5 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts) and Lauren Kizak (4 innings, 1 hit, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts) collaborated on the moujnd work for Hickory (6-2, 9-2). Kizak collected the win.
In her 4-for-4 plate performance, Layshock hammered a pair of homers, while Courtney Maniscalco connected for another.
S.Blair suffered the setback. In 8ì innings she yielded 11 hits and 6 earned runs on 6 walks, though she fanned 4. Also, K.Laird laced a 2-run single and J.Krider doubled.
ä Wilmington 9, Laurel 4 — At Lawrence County, Kayleigh Shenker, with relief from Abby Sotter, secured success for the Lady Greyhounds (13-2) in the non-league affair.
Alanna Elliott ended with a 3-run home run and 2 singles for Wilmington, while Courtney Cohen, Alexis Donati, Cassidy Marett and Aryn Boyer banged 2 hits apiece.
Shenker surrendered 6 hits and a walk while whiffing 2 in 4 frames. Sotter saved the win with 3 innings of relief.
ä Meadville 4, Grove City 3 — At Meadville, the host Lady Bulldogs’ A.Rhoades outdueled Grove City’s Maddie Elberty.
Rhoades recorded 10 strikeouts, walked 4 and scattered 8 hits, while Elberty ended up permitting 3 hits, 3 walks and striking out 6 in 4ê innings. In relief, Belle Chiodo checked the Dawgs on 2 hits.
Nottingham knocked a home run and single for MASH.
For Grove City (4-12), Cassie Feather and Grace Dadzaa each stroked 2 hitrs and Micaela King tallied twice and pilfered a pair of bases.
ä Sharpsville 17, Farrell 3; Sharpsville 16, Farrell 2 — At Sharpsville, the Blue Darlings improved to 9-5 with the doubleheader sweep. No game stats were reported. Sharpsville plays at West Middlesex Thursday.
GIRLS TRACK & FIELD
ä West Middlesex 84, Mercer 65; Mercer 114, Commodore Perry 30 — At the County Seat, the visiting Ms. Reds (6-1, 7-1) rolled, led by dual-winners Kristen White (800, 1600) and Rachel DeMaria (shot put, discus).
For Mercer, Courtney Young (100, sprint- and mile-relay legs) and Mindy Brown (200, 400, 4x4 relay leg) led the Lady M’s, along with Janette Berger (high, intermediate hurdles, sprint- and mile-relay legs).
DeMaria established a school standard (40-11 1/4), elicpsing Susie Bowser (40-6, 1995), according to Middlesex mentor Bob Morris.
Grinnell garnered a sweep of the 800 and 3200 runs for Commodore Perry.
ä Wilmington 91, Lakeview 59 — At Stoneboro, the visiting Lady Greyhounds garnered their 2nd straight Region 1-A championship, according to veteran mentor J.R. McFarland.
For Wilmington (7-0), Allison Baldwin (400, 800) and Rikki Brumbaugh (1600, 3200, 4x4 relay), as well as Julie Falvo (shot, disc) led the visitors, as did Hannah Drake (4x4, 4x8 relays, triple jump).
Marla Holland (200, sprint-relay leg) led Lakeview.
BOYS TRACK & FIELD
ä West Middlesex 100, Mercer 50; Mercer 108.5, Commodore Perry 31.5 — Clay Allen made the County Seat his personal playground, sweeping the 100- and 200-meter dashes, long jump, and anchoring the Big Reds’ winning sprint-relay foursome. Also, Luke Patten pole-vaulted and triple-jumped his way to a pair of wins, and was part of a winning relay, and Isaac Williams went for a win in the 3200 and as part of the distance-relay foursome.
West Middlesex mentor Ed Pikna pointed out it was the 5th consecutive Region 1-A title posted by his program, which is 7-0 this season.
He also cited seniors — Allen, Patten, Sebastian Grasso, Austin Mirizio, Aaron Fitzgerald, Trevor Harrison and Jeremy Jancso — who never lost a Region 1-A race during their 4-year tenure.
“We’ve been so blessed with the seniors we have and the leadership theyv’e provided,” Pikna praised. “It’s been a great ride, and I’m just super proud. We’re looking for big things over the next few weeks.”
Kevin Reno raced to wins in the 400- and 800-meter runs for Mercer. Also, J.Moon swept all 3 throws against Commodore Perry, while Bequeath bested the field in the 200, high jump, and as part of the mile-relay.
Nate White went for wins in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs for Commodore Perry.
ä Lakeview 108, Wilmington 37; Lakeview 123, Farrell 27 — At Stoneboro, the host Sailors coasted, led by Zach VanDusen (100, long and triple jumps) and Blake Reddick (200, 400, 4x4 relay), as well as thrower Hunter Armstrong (shot, disc) and distance aces Devon Workman (1600, 4x4 relay leg) and Billy Kinsey (4x8, 4x4 relays).
Sixth-year Sailors’ skipper Ryan Herold reported Lakeview ended 9-1 in duals.
For Farrell, 1st-place finishes were won by Brandon Gavins (11.5) and the sprint-relay foursome of Dewayne Burns, Guledge, Jackson and Gavins (47.1), and shot-putter Derrick Carter (38-9).
ä Greenville 97, Reynolds 53 — At Greenville, Matt Hecking and Nick Scovil were triple-event winners for the Trojans (9-2).
Hecking and Scovil ran on the 1st-place 400 relay team while Hecking copped the 400 and ran the opening leg on the winning 3200 relay squad and Scovil took 1st in the 100 and 200.
Clayton Stoyer (swept hurdles) and Cory Woods (long, triple jumps) led the way for the Raiders.
It was a tense Tuesday in Tiger-town.
GC coach Bell retired — sort of!
You can take the man out of coaching, but you can’t take coaching out of the man.
Former Grove City High football coach Jeff Bell has spent his first few months of retirement hearing the ping of a baseball ricocheting off an aluminum bat instead of clap of shoulder pads coming together.
“My grandson Maddox (Bell) and a few of his friends play on a traveling team, so I’m helping out with that,” said Bell, who retired as the Eagles’ football coach this past winter. “They’re a good group of kids to work with and this is a lot more enjoyable. It’s a lot less stress.
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Racing to fight cancer
Former Hickory High athlete Amanda Budzowski is on the run — the run to raise money to fight cancer.
Budzowski is part of Team in Training, an organization that has raised more than $1.4 billion for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society since forming in 1988. Her division is known as IRONTEAM and she is currently training for the 140.6-mile Ironman triathlon in Mont Tremblant, Canada, in August.
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Both teams rallied to win. The Buccos beat the Colorado Joints — err, I mean Rockies — by coming from behind in the 8th inning. Since they legalized marijuana sales in that state, it gave new meaning to John Denver’s song “Rocky Mountain High.”
Rutters earn spot in national motocross event
The brother-sister racing duo of Elijah and Dannah Rutter of Mercer are set to travel to Hurricane Mills, Tenn., to compete soon in the prestigious 33rd annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships presented by AMSOIL at Loretta Lynn Ranch.
Elijah, 18, and Dannah, 16, earned a ticket to the event with their performances at qualifiers and then regionals and are among the top 5 percent of riders in the U.S. Overall, 20,000 hopefuls from across the U.S. competed and there are only 1,446 qualifying spots at nationals.
Notebook: Sharon football greats meet, reunite at inaugural golf scramble
Mid-July, with the temperature 80-plus degrees at Avalon at Buhl Country Club; however, it felt like a fall, football Friday.
The inaugural Sharon Football Boosters 4-man golf scramble took place recently, and served as a Who’s Who in the Tigers’ triumphant tradition.
SPORTVIEW: All is right with the world - LeBron has come home!
HAPPY DAYS are here again. The prodigal child has returned!
The announcement that “King James” is returning to Cleveland has created a level of euphoria not seen since the Browns won the city’s last major sport championship a couple of years ago.
What’s that? Oh, yeah — make that 50 years ago (1964).
Full text of LeBron's essay in SI
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Snyder, Gordon, Popatak named to All-State team
Grove City High’s David Gordon, Sharpsville’s Greg Popatak and Lakeview’s Logan Snyder recently were named to the Pennsylvania High School Baseball Coaches Association all-state team.
Synder was selected 1st-Team in Class A as a designated-hitter, while Gordon was honorably-mentioned in Class AAA and Popatak similarly was honored in AA. Gordon gained his laurels as a pitcher; Popatak as a 3rd baseman.
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Little League Tournaments
Sharon won the District 2 Major Division (12-year-olds) Championship, while Greenville 9-10 and West Middlesex 11 teams notched tournament victories in recent action.
Hermitage Brennan Chiropractic won the Mercer County 14-under championship recently.
Following are game reports:
The First Tee of Sharon celebrates 15th anniversary
Professional golf star John Cook has received many honors and awards in his illustrious career, but probably none mean as much as those similar to the one he received Monday afternoon at The First Tee of Sharon.
During a special ceremony to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the local program, a permanent plaque was unveiled in his honor describing the contributions he has made to junior golf.
SPORTVIEW: John Cook here Monday for First Tee; other celebs on July 11
THE RETURN of Tiger Woods to a PGA event sparked a lot of interest this past week. The return of John Cook to Buhl Farm Golf Course Monday will do the same locally.
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It is open to the public at no charge.
Hickory honors Tri-Athletes
Hickory High honored its 2013-14 tri-athletes in a recent ceremony, the latest installment in a program that began in 2003-04.
Fifty student-athletes (grades 9-12) were cited for having competed in at least one sport in the fall, winter and spring while maintaining a minimum B (85 percent) grade-point-average during the first three 9-week grading periods of the academic year.
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- GC coach Bell retired — sort of!