By steve wilaj
Sometimes the coldest reality is the biggest motivating factor.
Having to win to continue their season, the Astro Falcons received a matter-of-fact message from manager Andy Timko before Friday’s matchup with Team Ontario in the National Amateur Baseball Federation tournament.
“I told them — for a lot of these guys — if you lose this game, it may be your last game ever playing at Cene Park,” Timko said.
Realizing this, the Falcons came out firing.
The Falcons scored seven first-inning runs, paving the way to a 12-2 victory over Ontario. Astro improved to 1-1 in the NABF round-robin games and kept itself in contention to qualify for the tournament.
“Most of us have been here for two, three, even four years,” said Chris Wastchak, Falcons first baseman. “We didn’t want to see our season end this game, so we gave it our hearts.”
A two-run double by Wastchak in the top of the first started the scoring for Astro. An error by Ontario third baseman Andrew Peddle made it 3-0.
Keyshawn D’Orso’s triple to center field extended the lead to 4-0, another Ontario error made it 5-0 and consecutive RBI singles by Troy Martin and Bubba Wells capped the big inning.
A big difference from Thursday night’s loss, Wastchak said, was the Falcons execution with runners in scoring position.
“We delivered when they were out there,” he said. “We haven’t really delivered when we’ve had guys in scoring position, so it was critical we started off that way and it was real key to our success today.”
Another key was the outing turned in by 6-foot-4 Astro starting pitcher Max Augenstein. He worked six innings, allowing two runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out two.
“Max has been good for us all year,” Timko said. “He made the league’s all-star team — I mean he’s been great. He throws strikes and doesn’t walk guys. He’s got a little bit on the ball and has a sinker. He’s been a good pitcher for us.”
On the opposite side, Ontario starting pitcher Adam Darrah was roughed up for five earned runs in his one inning of work.
Bubba Wells and Troy Martin had two hits and two RBIs for the Falcons, while Nick Andrews also had two knocks for Astro, including a double.
But Wastchak was the anchor, collecting four RBIs to go along with his two hits.
“It was a change for me since I was coming off a little struggle hitting,” he said. “We all needed it and all have been struggling a little bit. So it was definitely an ignition switch to turn it on and get some big runs in the first inning.”
Logan Waiters had two hits and a walk for Team Ontario, which finished the round robin games with a 2-1 record and will advance to the tournament.