Howland's Mann jells in relief
& lt;a href=mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org & gt;By JOE SCALZO & lt;/a & gt;
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
HOWLAND -- Seconds after Howland senior Vasili Pahoulis took a called third strike in the bottom of the sixth inning, one of the Tigers started to yell at the umpire about the call.
Sam Mann didn't let him finish.
"Shut up right now," Mann said. "If he gives me that high strike, I'm good."
Spoken like a true pitcher.
Mann struck out the side in the seventh to cap a stellar relief effort as the host Tigers rallied from a 5-0 deficit to defeat state-ranked Champion, 7-5, in baseball action Tuesday.
"He's had four outings and he got rocked in his first two," Howland coach Tom Eschman said. "But he's been excellent in relief in his last two outings.
"He might have earned himself a starting shot."
Mann certainly wouldn't mind.
"Last year, I was high in the rotation," he said. "I'd like to get back there."
Mann (1-2) tossed 31/3 shutout innings, striking out six while giving up just two hits. More impressive, he did it in weather that would frighten Canadians.
Not that it bothered Mann.
"Normally it does," he said. "But that was the hardest I've thrown all year."
Howland starter Terry Kakavros was sharp early, but gave up three runs in the third inning on a combination of three passed balls, two wild pitches, two walks and two hits.
Champion scored twice more in the fourth, but watched its lead evaporate due to a season-high five errors.
"That was probably the worst we've played defensively all year," Champion coach Tim Cope said. "Like I told them, we're human and I think we came back down to earth."
Mike Fitzpatric had three hits and an RBI from the eight spot in the order to lead Howland (7-5). Jared Bartholomew, Vasili Pahoulis and Nick Pompeo each added two hits and Bartholomew had two RBIs.
"We want to play all the good teams we can," Eschman said. "We've really made an attempt to get as many good teams on the schedule as we can. And even though Champion is Division III, they're state-ranked. To be the best, you have to play the best."
Jake Gross had two hits and two runs for Champion (9-2), which was ranked sixth in Division III in the latest Associated Press poll.
"It's a nice reward," Cope said of the ranking.
"It's nice that other coaches around the state think we're a team of that caliber."
Brian Smith added two hits and Kevin Stingel added three RBIs for the Flashes.
Petr Gavlas (2-2) struck out four and did not walk a batter to pick up the loss.
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