Knightline lights up Avalanche in victory
By dan hiner
It was a tale of two halves for Knightline’s 18U Class B team in its series clinching win over Avalanche Thursday at Cene Park.
Knightline had one hit prior to a 40-minute lightning delay in the bottom of the third inning. After the delay, Knightline scored 14 runs in the final four innings of a 15-5 win.
Trailing 4-1, Knightline scored five runs in the top of the fourth. Hubbard’s Tim Herberger gave Knightline a 5-4 lead with a two-run double down the left field line.
“We were a little flat at first,” Herberger said. “We didn’t want to lose. We came out with everything we had and just fought hard.”
Herberger added another two-run double to left-center field in the sixth to increase the lead to 12-4. Herberger finished 3 for 5 with four RBIs and three runs scored.
Knightline (17-7) batted around twice in the game, first in the fourth and again in the sixth.
Anthony Cinicola drove in two runs for Knightline while LaBrae’s Colton Stoneman, Austintown Fitch’s Kole Klasic, Poland’s Zach Yasulka and Springfield’s John Ritter each had an RBI.
Jarod Wilson relieved Knightline starter Tommy Pitko in the second inning. Wilson allowed one hit in his first 32/3 innings before giving up a one-out single to Tyler Mattocks in the sixth.
Wilson allowed one run on three hits. He struck out four and didn’t allow a walk. Pitko gave up four runs, two earned, in 11/3 innings. Pitko walked one and struck out one.
“Jarod’s been solid for us for a couple years,” Knightline head coach Tommy Otto said. “He just comes in and throws strikes. He’s always been a middle relief, closer guy.
“He’s [entered] in bad situations and gotten us out.”
Otto said if the delay had lasted any longer, Wilson would not have returned to the mound, ending his day with less than an inning pitched.
While Knightline had solid production from its pitchers, Avalanche was forced to use five pitchers during the game.
Avalanche played 10 games over the last week and came in with tired arms.
Cam Mattocks had the longest outing, 3 2/3 innings pitched. Cam Mattocks allowed six runs, five earned, on five hits and two walks. He struck out one.
Avalanche (11-14) took a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the second after some bad luck by Knightline.
After Cam Mattocks reached on a fielder’s choice, Jamin Wentling reached on a ground ball that hopped over the shoulder of Knightline first baseman Zach Yasulka. Cam Mattocks scored on the play.
The next batter, Pete Sampson reached on an error by Knightline shortstop Kole Klasic. Yasulka scored on the error and Sampson was later driven in on an RBI single by Cam Sinclair.
Knightline outscored Avalanche 25-10 in the two games of their best of three series. But Knightline will face a tougher opponent in the second round.
Knightline will play the Astro Falcons today in the opening game of a best-of-three series.
Otto will start Adam Jannette on the mound. Jannette earned a team-high six saves as the closer for Mercyhurst in 2018. He had a 3-1 record and struck out 39 in 301/3 innings pitched.
Astros beat Knightline last year in the playoffs. Now that Otto’s players have played together for a few years, he’s confident his team is ready to compete with the reigning tournament runner-ups.
“When you got a group that’s been together a long time and they go through the wars and lost a few along the way, they know what it means,” Otto said. “I think we’re better prepared this year, more confident this year, we’re a better team this year.”