By Greg Gulas
Opening day of the NABF Junior World Series was kind to the 16-U Astro Falcons and Baird Brothers at Bob Cene Park.
But Prospects is in a must-win situation today after dropping a hard-fought contest to West New York Tigers at Austintown Fitch High School’s Rich Coppola Field.
The Falcons, defending World Series and Class Little b league champions, needed just six innings to dispose of Michigan Red Sox, 12-2.
Baird Brothers, Class Little b regular-season champs and league runners-up, stopped Brooklyn Bonnie Rockets, 5-3.
Prospects held a 2-1 lead late before dropping a 3-2 decision.
The three local teams play doubleheaders today beginning at 9 a.m. with Astro Falcons meeting Toledo Hawks on Field No. 1 at Cene Park, followed by a game with Frozen Ropes Outlaws.
On Field No. 2, Baird Brothers takes on Frozen Ropes Outlaws at 9 a.m. and then South Central #517.
At Fitch, Prospects entertains Ohio Longhorns at 9 a.m. and Michigan Red Sox immediately thereafter.
Connor Miller had four hits and three runs batted in while Ricky Havrilla picked up the mound win.
Miller and Brayden Beck doubled while Vince Armeni doubled and drove in four runs.
Manager Jason Triveri used three pitchers with Havrilla allowing an unearned run, scattering four hits and striking out two.
After winning the final two games of their league championship series and outscoring Baird Brothers by a 26-1 count, the Falcons have scored 38 runs while allowing just three over their past three contests,
“More than anything, it was good to see us pick up right where we left off from an offensive standpoint,” Triveri said. “The concern was that we were going from aluminum bats in our league to wooden bats in the World Series and we didn’t skip a beat.
“Our swings looked good and everything fell into place for us.
Jorge Leedham worked the fourth inning with Seth Velker pitched the fifth and sixth frames.
“It was important to start the tournament off with a win,” Miller said. “We played what I felt was one of our most complete games of the season.”
Andrew Vance threw six strong innings, struck out 12 and threw 104 pitches against the Bonnie Rockets.
Jake Gehring added three singles and scored a run.
“They didn’t like my off-speed stuff so I threw quite a few sliders,” Vance said. “It’s nice to bounce back with a win like this.”
Baird took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Dylan Dominguez singled, then scored on Connor Meyer’s double.
The Bonnies tied the game in their next at-bat then took the led in the third inning on Andy Alecantra’s RBI triple.
Baird sent eight batters to the plate in the fourth inning and scored four runs for a 5-2 advantage. A wild pitch, three defensive miscues and a two-run single by Bren Kilpatrick were part of the outburst.
Gehring said Vance was “lights out” with 12 strikeouts and excellent command.
“Anytime you have double-digit strikeouts you’re dealing, and Andrew was definitely dealing today,” Gehring said.
Prospects held a 2-1 lead heading to the sixth inning, but the Outlaws scored twice in the sixth frame for the victory.
Prospects scored in the second inning, with Konnor Learn driving in one of the runs.
Joey Perfette had two hits, including a double while Cameron During had two hits and a RBI.
“We played well today and fought hard,” Perfette said. ”We just need to come back strong tomorrow and get back on the winning track.”
Ernesto Polanco went the route to pick up the win for the Outlaws, striking out five. He also tripled and drove in two runs.
Gabriel Abreu added had two hits for the Outlaws.
“Trevor Strohmeyer really pitched well for us today,” manager Britt Taylor said.