With an impending storm blowing in above Johnny Pepe Field time was limited, so Ryan Grace greedily gobbled up putouts.
Grove City High’s Grace gave up only 3 base hits, and the visiting Eagles eased to an abbreviated 4-0, 5-inning win over Sharon Friday afternoon.
The right-handed Grace got through 5 frames needing only 56 pitches because he threw 41 for strikes. Mixing a fastball and sharp breaking ball, he fanned 5 and did not issue a walk. He hit Josh Nichols with a 3rd-inning pitch, then promptly picked him off.
“ ... When he needs to (reach back for something extra on his fastball), he can let it go a little bit,” assessed veteran Grove City head coach Pat Forese. “He’s our number two; Matt Gordon’s our number one. But Ryan’s done a nice job all year. He’s probably 5- or 6-1 and Matt Gordon’s 6-1, so those two have carried us.”
Batting around, the Eagles (14-4) erupted for a 4-run 1st frame against Sharon starter Justin Stefanowicz.
Ben Lucas led off with a sharp single to center on the gam;e’s 2nd pitch and stole 2nd. Jesse Hodge was hit by a pitch and Dustin Maine singled, setting up Doug Horner’s 2-run single. The baserunners were balked 90 feet ahead, then Grace garnered an RBI-single and Collin Lawson lent a fielder’s choice RBI-grounder.
“Starting out with four runs in the first was huge, obviously, with the weather coming,” Forese noted.
Stefanowicz strugged with his command during that 35-pitch opening inning. But to his credit the righthanded Stefanowicz settled down from that point, blanking Grove City during the next 3 innings. Righty reliever Louis Wareham whitewashed the Eagles in the 5th frame, needing only 5 pitches.
But Sharon (9-8) could not solve Grace.
Vinnie Shaffer’s 1-out double to the right-center field gap in the 1st, Daniel Vanderslice’s leadoff single to right in the 2nd, and Nick Carlo’s leadoff 4th-inning singles was the extent of Sharon’s offense.
Following Carlo’s connection, Mike Songer sacrificed him to 2nd. But Grace got Vanderslice on strikes and Stefanowicz on a groundout, courtesy of shorstop Jesse Hodge’s long throw from the hole.
“This team (Sharon) hits the ball real well; good thing the wind was blowing in. That saved us a couple runs early. They hit a couple shots against us,” Forese noted.
The Tigers are attempting to push into the District 10 Class AA playoffs, while Grove City (7-0) already garnered the Region 6-AAA crown. The Eagles ended a 4-game week with the win, 24 hours after suffering a setback to Franklin.
With a staff including Gordon, Grace, Lucas and Hodge, the Eagles enjoy some pitching depth as they prepare for the postseason.
Forese forecasted, “I feel pretty good going in. We just have to play well. When we play well, I’m real confident we’re as good as anybody; but we’ve had games, too, where we’ve had four, five errors and just kind’ve gone to sleep. But that’s high school baseball.”
Notes: Lucas led Grove City with 2 hits, and Maine mustered another pair. Stefanowicz picked off Lucas following the latter’s 2nd single. ... the first 5 frames required only 65 minutes, before a lightning strike prompted umpires to call the game. ... Sharon seniors were cited prior to the game (along with their parents), including Carlo, Leo Rahn, Cody Frazier, Songer, Stefanowicz, Nichols and Shaffer. — By Ed Farrell, Herald assistant sports editor.
ä Kennedy Catholic 16, Commodore Perry 5 — Recently, the Golden Eagles were led by Pat Shober’s complete-game pitching performance and Hunter Grande’s 3-for-4 plate performance that included a double and triple.
ä Sharon 17, Farrell 1 (3 inn.) — At Wengler Field in Sharon, coach Mike Bochert’s Lady Tigers improved to 4-4 in the region and 9-7 overall.
No stats were reported to The Herald.
Warren (Class AA) and Cathedral Prep (AAA) defended their District 10 team titles on Friday at the Pennbriar Athletic Club in Erie.
Warren swept Harbor Creek, 5-0, and Fairview swept Hickory in the semifinals. The Dragons then edged the Tigers, 3-2 in the finals.
Cathedral Prep rolled past McDowell, 5-0, for the team crown.
˝ Fairview 5, Hickory 0 — Singles: Jon Oskin (F) def. Ross Rosati, 6-0, 6-0; Andrew Levin (F) def. John Smaltz, 6-4, 6-4; Ben Westcott (F) def. Michael Funera, 6-0, 6-0. Doubles: Mike Siegel-Tris Tvitle (F) def. Nick Petrochko-Zack Walters, 6-1, 6-2; Phil Lavin-Jack Sundburg (F) def. Gerald Koledin-Stephen Petrochko, 6-0, 6-1.
Hickory went 8-0 in Region 1 to win the title and finished 9-3 overall. The Hornets graduate only seniors Nick Petrochko and Nelson Murphy.