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.
Players relent, agree to play for reinstated football coach
Minnesota State University-Mankato's football team has ended its boycott of reinstated head coach Todd Hoffner, who successfully fought child pornography charges and other misconduct accusations that removed him from the job for 20 months.
Hickory track coaches near finish line
While the Shenango Valley lionizes legendary gridiron greats and hardwood heroes, the sport of track & field at Hickory High has resonated its relevance throughout District 10 and commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
For the better part of the last 3 decades that was due, to a great extent, to the efforts of Barb Dzuricsko and Mark Slezak.
More than 200 dual-meet victories combined between the girls’ and boys’ programs, 9 district championships (7 girls, 2 boys), 2 statewide runners-up berths and another pair of 3rd-place finishes, culminating in the Lady Hornets’ 2012 PIAA Class AA championship.
Their collective resumé would be envied by any coach, regardless of sport. Which makes this recent revelation regrettable: Dzuricsko and Slezak simultaneously will step down at this season’s conclusion.
SPORTVIEW: Cavaliers are example of how an owner impacts a team
WHEN LEBRON James vacated Cleveland for South Beach a few years ago, angry Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert declared that the Cavaliers would win an NBA championship before James and the Miami Heat.
How’s that working out, Dan?
Miami is seeking a third straight title this postseason while the Cavaliers are headed for the golf courses. Pretty sad.
Roundup: Trojans, Hounds win team titles at WM Invitational
Wilmington High girls and Greenville boys dominated the annual Big Red Track & Field Invitational Thursday afternoon in West Middlesex.
A half-dozen girls’ and 7 boys’ teams competed.
Wilmington overwhelmed the female field, as the Lady Greyhounds garnered almost twice as many points as runner-up Lakeview (236-5 to 133.5).
Roundup: WM diamondmen edge Reynolds, 6-4
ä West Middlesex 6, Reynolds 4 — At Transfer, the Big Reds snapped a 4-all tie by plating a run in the 4th inning and another in the 7th in a 2-run win over the Raiders.
Mark Colella earned the mound win in a relief appearance for WM. No pitching stats were submitted.
Roundup: Hickory, Wilmington softball teams win
Paced by Chelsea Marriott’s muscle, Hickory High hammered 4 home runs Saturday afternoon en route to a 19-1 rout of Sharon.
At Wengler, Marriott mauled 2- and 3-run round-trippers to right-center and straightaway center field, respectively. Her Lady Hornets’ teammates Hannah Gallagher and Morgan McBride mustered 3-run bombs, also.
Fired coach in Mankato unjustly accused of visiting porn sites
Minnesota State University-Mankato officials wrongly accused former football coach Todd Hoffner of viewing pornography sites on his work computer before firing him last May, a state arbitrator has disclosed.
Roundup: Hickory track coaches to step down following season
Hickory High track & field co-head coaches Barb Dzuricsko and Mark Slezak announced they will step down at the season’s conclusion.
Dzuricsko and Slezak, who led the Lady Hornets to the 2012 PIAA Class AA crown, jointly made the announcement via e-mail late Wednesday.
Roundup: Devil diamondmen roll past Sharon
An old-school baseball bromide states that, early in any season, pitching is always ahead of hitting. However Sharpsville shunned that axiom Wednesday afternoon.
The Blue Devils banged 15 hits, and Sharpsville short-circuited Sharon, 16-4, in 5 innings.
Roundup: Hounds, Hornets notch track sweeps
ä Wilmington 116, Reynolds 44 — At New Wilmington, the host Lady Hounds were led by Rikki Brumbaugh (4x8, 4x4 relay legs, 400- and 800-meter runs); Hannah Drake (long, triple jumps, 4x4 relay); Allison Baldwin (4x8 and 4x4 relay legs); Lexi Brumbaugh (1600-, 3200-meter runs, distance-relay leg), and Tessa Sikora (high jump, 200-meter dash, sprint-relay anchor).
SPORTVIEW: Pirates, Indians fans looking for big things this year
LIFE IS GOOD if you are a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates or Cleveland Indians. At least for now!
Heading into Saturday, both teams were 3-1 and looking pretty sharp. Since both made the playoffs last year, there are high expectations for both clubs. But in baseball, every year is a new season and there are no guarantees.
Still, it’s always nice when your favorite teams get off to a good start. In too many seasons, Pittsburgh and Cleveland fans were only talking about the NFL draft because hopes were bleak for their baseball teams.
Hickory's Arbanas 1st team All-State; KC's Hood 3rd team
ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) — Teams from the WPIAL won three of the four PIAA girls basketball championships this year, and southwestern Pennsylvania is turning out to be just as dominant when it comes to postseason honors.
Pittsburgh-area programs produced seven of the eight major award winners on this season’s Sports Writers Pennsylvania High School Girls Basketball All-State Team, including all four players of the year.
WM's Staunch named 2nd team All-State
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Finishing on the winning side in a championship game — or coming mighty, mighty close — scored plenty of points with the panel that selected Pennsylvania’s all-state boys’ basketball team.
Especially when it came time to choose those — whether players or coaches — who claimed the top individual awards.
Roundup: Hickory, Mercer, Reynolds, WM baseball teams earn wins
ä Hickory 12, Sharpsville 10 — At the McCullough Run Complex in South Pymatuning Twp., the visiting Hornets improved to 4-0 with the win.
Brady Leunis went 2-for-3 for Hickory with a double and 3 RBI, Tommy Cannon belted a 2-run homer, Noah Orndorff was 2-for-4, Nate Mastrian ripped an RBI-double, Ethan Davis was 2-for-4 with a double and a run driven in and Jake Andrzjewski doubled.
Roundup: WM, Wilmington, Mercer softball teams win
ä West Middlesex 11, Grove City 1 (5 inn.) — At the Richard J. Kritz Softball Complex in West Middlesex, Jordyn Allen fired a complete-game 2-hitter with 8 strikeouts and no walks as the Ms. Reds (1-1) rebounded from a tough loss to Lakeview on Monday.
Offensively, Allen doubled and ripped 2 singles for WM, Abby McAdams and Aly Andrusky doubled and singled, Macy Siefert collected 4 singles and Hannah Havens, Megan Hazlett and Oivia Slater added 2 singles each.
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