Rick Vickers retired all 11 batters he faced as the Falcons defeated Campbell.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CAMPBELL -- It is difficult to set aside the valiant comeback that carried the Austintown Fitch High baseball team over Campbell Memorial 12-6 Wednesday at Roosevelt Park.
But Rick Vickers found a way.
By retiring all 11 batters he faced in relief of Fitch starter Shawn Barber, Vickers capped Fitch's seventh straight victory.
Suddenly, the Falcons (17-7) are one of the area's hottest teams heading into tournament play.
Key to success: "We've had a number of guys contributing. We haven't had to rely on one or two guys," said Fitch coach Wally Ford Jr., whose Falcons had 15 hits. "It really has been a team effort."
A sophomore right-hander, Vickers may have never gotten his opportunity had the game unfolded differently.
But Campbell (7-9) scored six runs on eight hits in the first two innings off Barber to take a 6-0 lead.
"I had the confidence we'd be able to come back," said Fitch senior right fielder Kevin Schertzer, who went 2-for-4 with a double. "We've done it a lot in games before."
Using the momentum they have gained throughout the winning streak, the Falcons retaliated quickly, scoring five runs in the third and four in the fourth off Campbell starter Juan Torres.
"Coming back was real nice," Ford said. "I was afraid we might have a little letdown because we've played in some big games. But we've hung in there all year."
Campbell coach Wayne Zetts said of losing the lead, "That's been our season in a nutshell. We kicked the ball around too much [four total errors], and you can't give good teams those kind of advantages."
Fitch's 9-6 lead after 3 1/2 innings was secured when Vickers entered in the bottom of the fourth with two Campbell runners aboard.
Vickers induced the first batter he faced, Anthony Zembillas, into a 4-6-3 double play, then got Kirk Giallousis to pop out.
"He shut us down completely," Zetts said of Vickers. "He stifled our bats."
Vickers credited his fastball, curveball, changeup and the play of his defense as tools for success.
"He comes in and throws strikes," Ford said. "He had a nice curveball that kept them off-balance. That's the thing -- he's always around the plate. He got a lot of groundballs, and our infield has been playing well."
Record: Vickers' earned his first victory of the season against three losses. He suffered two defeats against strong teams in a Florida tournament, Ford said.
"He's had some hard luck," Ford said. "He lost to Ursuline 3-2 after he had a one-hitter going into the sixth inning. "But he's only a sophomore."
Fitch opens Division I tournament play next Wednesday at home against Howland. Campbell will play Ursuline in a Div. III game Monday at Cene Park.