Perry helps Baird Brothers advance
By dan hiner
Travis Perry hasn’t pitched much for the Baird Brothers 18-U baseball team. He only pitched one game in the regular season, but head coach Don Pletcher turned to him in one of the biggest games of the season.
Perry pitched a complete game in Baird Brothers’ 6-2 win over the Michigan Bulls on Saturday in the NABF quarterfinals.
The 6-foot 6-inch pitcher struck out eight and allowed two runs on four hits and four walks.
“That’s why I pitched this game. [Pletcher] can’t get there without winning this game,” Perry said. “We needed to win this game and he [said] ‘You’re on the mound no matter who we play.’
“We could have played the worst team here and he would have wanted me on the mound just to get through this game.”
Perry got off to a bit of a slow start on the mound. He missed his location early but settled down in the final four innings.
He allowed individual runs in the second and third innings on an RBI single by Josh Muse and a sacrifice fly by Austin Stiffler.
“[Perry] started off a little slow, even if the strike zone was tight, he didn’t have his best stuff of the bat,” Baird Brothers catcher Coleman Stauffer said.
“He started to settle in around the fourth and fifth, and he really settled in. He started throwing much harder and was definitely hitting his spots.”
Baird Brothers (5-0) was without one of their best hitters, Steve D’Eusanio, but still managed 10 hits.
The Class B champions used the left-center and right-center gaps, hitting two triples and four doubles.
Baird took a 2-1 lead on a two-run double by Dylan Swarmer in the top of the third.
After Michigan tied the score at 2, Baird broke the game open with a three-run fifth inning.
Jacob McCaskey drove in two for Baird with a single to center field and Connor Rakow followed with an RBI single to left.
Perry added an additional run in the sixth with an RBI double to the left field corner.
Outfielder Matt Gibson, who was acquired prior to the tournament, was a home run shy of the cycle. He finished 3 for 5 while McCaskey was 2 for 4 with a triple and two RBIs.
The Bulls (2-3) used five pitchers during the game. Zachary Rachfal was one of two Michigan pitchers to throw two or more innings.
Rachfal used two different arm angles, leading to different speeds and crossing up Baird in his two innings pitched.
“It was tough, I faced [Rachfal and] the first few pitches were submarine and I didn’t really know he was going to throw over the top,” Stauffer said.
“He was throwing a lot harder over the top. It was definitely a big adjustment for me, and I got caught out in front of it because I wasn’t ready for it.”
Rachfal allowed two runs on a hit and a walk.
Bulls starter Nick McCarthy allowed three hits and a walk in over two innings pitched.
Baird advances to play in the NABF semifinals today at 11:30 a.m. A win would clinch a spot in the championship game at 2 p.m.
Perry and Stauffer were on last year’s team which was eliminated in group play. Several members of the team were on the 2017 roster.
Stauffer, a catcher at Mount Union, and Perry, a Youngstown State commit, won’t be in the league next year and want to win a title.
“This year, we got to get that ring because most of us — there’s probably about six or seven of us — can’t play in the zone,” Perry said. “We want this one.”