By brandon Judeh
The Austintown Fitch baseball team warmed the frigid air Friday evening as the Falcons scored six runs in the second inning en route to an easy 14-3 victory over Warren Harding.
After squandering an opportunity in the first inning — scoring only one run after a leadoff triple by Kevin Sierra — the Falcons (2-0) weren’t about to let another slide by in the second inning.
Zarek Bell led the inning off with a single, stole two bases and then scored on an RBI groundout by Tony Adams, but the real damage was done with two outs.
Kevin Miller smacked a base hit into left field to extend the lead to 3-0, Shane Vitullo added another run with a double and junior Scott Pierce knocked in two more with a single.
“That inning was big for us, we need to get those big innings and string some hits together and get some runs,” Pierce said “So far we’re happy with our offensive performance, but I think we need to get stronger on defense. I had an error today, so defense is something I personally need to work on.”
Pierce also reached base twice on walks.
The monster inning was capped off by Zach Miller’s RBI double to push the Fitch lead to 7-0.
“So far I’m happy where our offense is at,” said Falcons head coach Wally Ford. “It’s tough because we haven’t been outside much or seen much live pitching, so that’s been tough on our hitters. But tonight we were able to string some things together and have a couple of big innings.”
The second big inning came in what was to be the final inning when, once again, the Falcons erupted for six runs in the sixth.
“There’s no excuse for the way we played today,” Harding coach Ed Shaker said. “We can’t blame the cold weather for our performance.
“It was mental errors more than anything else. Coming into this game we knew that Fitch has a good squad, and they did a great job of stringing together hits, but we need to clean up our defense.”
After Harding pitcher Jared Paige walked the bases loaded Zach Miller drove in his second and third RBIs of the night to extend the Falcons’ lead to seven.
Soon the Raiders’ fifth error of the night led to two more runs and pinch-hitter Tommy James drove home the final two runners to send Harding home early.
Harding (1-1) looked poised to make a comeback early. The Raiders got within four runs in the third inning when Jared Paige hit a two-run double into right-center field, but that was the last of the scoring for Harding.
Fitch starting pitcher Trent Collins had his curveball working early and picked up the win for the Falcons with four strong innings.
Also chipping in for Fitch were Phil Socha with an RBI single in the fourth. Kevin Miller was 2-for-3 wth an RBI.