Baird Brothers, Knightline set for Class B championship series
By BRIAN DZENIS
The final two teams standing in Youngstown Class B baseball include the league’s reigning champion and a team that’s making up for lost time.
Baird Brothers rallied from a one-game deficit to beat Roth Brothers by scores of 2-0 and 7-6 while Knightline completed a two-game sweep of Astro Falcons with a 4-3 victory on Saturday.
The clinching games were close affairs, which portends a tough best-of-five championship series that starts today.
“It’s going to be a loud. It’s going to be exciting. It should be a great series,” Baird Brothers coach Don Pletcher said. “I’ve got some guys that are going to play ball. [Knightline coach Tim Otto] has some guys who can play ball. We burned more pitching than I would like to, but that’s life.
“We’re going to suit up for the next three days and see what happens.”
KNIGHTLINE COMPLETES SWEEP
Knightline got the better of Niles graduate and Astro pitcher Marco DeFalco to return to the Class B 18U champion series, earning an NABF regional tournament bid. The honors came after a one-year absence from regionals, an emotional moment for Otto.
“This group is going to be pretty hard to say goodbye to,” Otto said. “It’s just the character — the belief in each other. They just never quit.
“We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs and we’ve always stuck together.”
The deciding run came when Austintown Fitch’s Kole Klasic singled home Poland’s Zach Yaskulka in the bottom of the sixth. The late scoring had shades of Friday’s Game 1, where Knightline scored two runs in the top of the seventh to snatch away a 2-1 victory.
“For the past couple of years, we’ve played that team in the same situation and haven’t been able to come out on top,” Klasic said. “This group of guys coming back and doing it this year and moving on is a pleasure.”
Fellow Fitch Falcon Tommy Pitko picked up the win. He went six innings, giving up two earned runs on eight hits and two walks with three strikeouts.
“Throwing a first-pitch strike was big for me. I was getting my off-speed working really well and hitting my spots,” Pitko said. “I was getting a lot of groundballs and flyballs to get outs.”
Anthony Cinicola came on for the seventh inning, allowing only one hit for the save. Kevin Pollock was 3 for 3 with two RBIs for Knightline. Craig Palidar was 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs for Astro. DeFalco gave up two earned runs on seven hits and six walks with five strikeouts to take the loss.
Baird Brothers’ Game 2 win was fairly simple affair with Andrew Vance holding Roth to two hits while striking out 11. Game 3 was anything but, with Baird falling into a 5-0 hole by the third inning.
“We didn’t get nervous. Our kids knew it was a seven-inning game,” Pletcher said. We’ve been down before and there’s no panic in my kids.”
Baird got three runs in the bottom of the third to start the rally. Josh Hoffman hit an RBI-single to center field to finish it in the bottom of the sixth.
Champion’s Andrew Russell was 2 for 4 at the plate with two RBIs. He also pitched the final 2 2/3 hitless innings, walking one and striking out three to pick up the win.”