vs. Lakewood St.
Edward, May 17,
4:30 p.m., Cene Park.
By Pete Mollica
The big inning has played a major role in the seasons for both Howland and Austintown Fitch High baseball teams this spring.
The Tigers (13-5) have used the big inning to their advantage throughout the year, while the Falcons (5-11) have given up just too many big innings this season.
On Wednesday afternoon Howland erupted for a seven-run second inning and it was enough to hold up for a 7-3 victory over the Falcons in a Division I sectional final.
“The big inning has killed us all spring,” said Fitch coach Wally Ford. “We just talked about that today. It has really hurt us. If we played six inning games we might be OK.
“We misplayed a bunt and then let a pop up fall in and it just broke loose from there,” Ford added. “But that’s the way high school baseball goes sometimes.
“Give Howland credit that hit the ball well today,” he said. “I was pleased with the relief effort of Ron DeAmicis. He shut them down after the second inning.”
The Tigers, who advance to the Division I district tournament at Cene Park next Tuesday, sent 11 batters to the plate in that big second inning and had out six hits and got some help by a Fitch error.
“It was a good game, we had our hot streaks early on in the season and then we cooled down midway through the year and the last couple of weeks we’ve been playing very well,” said Howland coach Jason Stanford.
“It was a good [second] inning, we hit the ball well and we did some good little things that we haven’t been doing most of this year,” he added.
The inning started with with Jacob Froats being hit by a pitch from starter and losing pitcher Jon Michael Valentine. That was followed by three straight singles, one a sacrifice bunt which was mishandled by the Falcons.
Nick Marino drove in the first run with a single and Brendan O’Brien followed with a two-run single. After winning pitcher Chris Maze singled in a run, Cory Hickman drilled a triple to deep center field, scoring two more runs and he scored on the play when the throw got away from the infield.
Fitch actually had the lead in the game as the Falcons scored in the top half of the second when DeAmicis reached on an error, when to second on a wild pitch and scored on a double by Logan Kane down the left field line.
The Falcons got two more runs in the fourth when Anthony Paris led off with a single and Zack Miller followed with a double to center and DeAmicis singled home one run and Zarek Bell drove in the other with a single to center.
“The kids never quit even after the big inning,” Ford added.
Maze threw six innings and allowed five hits, four of them in the fourth inning. He struck out eight and walked three, two of them to start the seventh inning before Danny Marker came on to retire the next three batters.
“We could see Chris [Maze] starting to tire in the sixth, but we wanted to give him a chance to finish because it’s a big thing, but Danny [Marker] came on and did an outstanding job to finish the game,” Stanford added.
O’Brien, Maze and Marino all had two hits for the Tigers.