Locals shut out three
foes to win Palomino
World Series berth
By Greg Gulas
Losing to the Ohio Longhorns in the PONY Palomino East Zone Tournament on Friday might very well have been the best thing to happen to Baird Brothers.
After all, manager Don Pletcher had his three best pitchers rested and felt that his squad was still the best offensive team in the tournament, despite being shut out by the Longhorns.
Baird defeated fellow Class B league foe Knightline Embroidery 12-0 in five innings Saturday in losers bracket play behind Pat Gumto’s two-hitter, then followed that up with a 3-0 win over the Longhorns behind Andrew Russell’s one-hitter to force the “if necessary” game.
The third game of the day proved to be the charm as they rode the arm of Zach Rohaley, who tossed the second one-hitter of the night for a 13-0 win over the Longhorns and the Palomino East Zone championship at Bob Cene Park.
Baird Brothers advances to the Palomino World Series in Laredo, Texas. It will play Cidra, Puerto Rico at 9 a.m. on Friday at Uni-trade Stadium.
“I told the team after yesterday’s loss, not in a cocky way, but we still had our three best pitchers ready to go and I felt that we were still the best offensive team in the tournament, so it was up to us,” Baird manager Don Pletcher said. “Pat Gumto was great in our first game against Knightline and then Andrew and Zach were tremendous with back-to-back one-hitters in the championship games.”
Rohaley retired 21 of 23 batters that he faced and was perfect, retiring the first 13 batters that he faced before a one-out single by Longhorns outfielder Torrey Roper in the fifth inning.
“It was a 3-2 slider and I just hung it,” said Rohaley, this year’s Pennsylvania 6A pitcher of the year. “I was going for the strikeout and the pitch before he fouled off, so hat’s off to him because he deserved it. Advancing to the World Series is an awesome feeling. I’d just like to thank my defense because they did a super job tonight in all three games.”
Baird opened a 2-0 lead in the first inning as Dayln Brickner singled to lead off the game, Jake McCaskey followed with a double to score Bricker while McCaskey scored two batters later on Braeden O’Shaughnessy’s sacrifice fly.
McCaskey finished with two doubles, four runs batted in, two runs scored and was on base four of his five at bats.
“We were down a little after last night’s loss, but we picked up steam in our first game against Knightline and went on a roll,” McCaskey said.
They increased their advantage to 6-0 an inning later, scoring four times with two runs racing home on McCaskey’s second double in as many innings, a run-scoring single by Steve Deusanio and an r.b.i. double by O’Shaughnessy.
A sacrifice fly by Brickner in the third inning made it a 7-0 game and then in the fifth frame, a throwing error by Longhorns right fielder Nathan Hallam allowed Jacob Keene to score to make it 8-0.
Baird blew it open in the seventh inning, scoring five more times with the key blow a three-run double by O’Shaughnessy and bases loaded walks to both Brickner and McCaskey.
PONY PALOMINO EAST ZONE
Baird Brothers 3, Knightline Embroidery 0: Russell had a no-hitter through 61/3 innings, settling for a one-hitter to lead Baird to a 3-0 win over the Longhorns, their second win of the day and a trip to the championship game.
He needed just 97 pitches to finish his complete game gem.
Josh Hoffman had two hits, including a two-run triple while McCaskey scored the other run for Baird.
“I knew that I had a no-hitter going when I went out to the mound for the seventh inning. I just tried not to think about it,” said Russell, a Champion High senior this fall and Ohio University early commit. “It was important to play a solid game if we expected to get to the championship. My fast ball and changeup combo was what I relied on the entire game.”
Baird took a 1-0 lead in the opening frame, loading the bases with two away then scoring when McCaskey crossed the plate on a wild pitch by Longhorns starter Dan Noe.
A two-run triple by Hoffman in the third inning extended the Baird lead to 3-0, which proved to be the final runs of the game.
Baird Brothers 12, Knightline Embroidery 0: Gumto went five innings, allowed just two hits and struck out three to lead Baird to a five-inning win over Class B rival Knightline.
“All I wanted to do was throw strikes. This was the first time that I was throwing to catcher Justin Stewart and I liked everything that he called,” Gumto said. “We’re both going to California (Pa.) State University this fall and I am looking forward to that.”
Connor Rakow had three hits, two runs batted in and scored twice, Hoffman had two hits and scored three times while McCaskey roped a triple and added four runs batted in to pace Baird.
Also for Baird, Brickner had two hits and two r.b.i.’s while Justin Stewart added a double, two r.b.i.’s and scored twice as they advanced to the championship round against the Longhorns.
“I just wanted to do anything to help the team win,” Rakow said. “Getting on base, fielding, moving the runners over, anything to help out.”
Youngstown opened a 3-0 lead in the second inning, sending eight batters to the plate and scoring twice on Stewart’s double, then on an infield grounder by Brickner.
They sent 10 more batters to the dish the following inning, adding six more runs for a 9-0 advantage.
McCaskey’s bases clearing triple and a two-run single by Rakow were the big blows in the frame.
Youngstown then stretched their lead to 12-0 in the fourth inning, sending nine more batters to the plate and scoring on a ground out by Jacob Keene, a walk to McCaskey and single by Brickner.
COLT EAST ZONE
Youngstown All-Stars 6, Stallions 3: The locals won to remain undefeated. They’re 2-0 and will face either the Ohio Longhorns or Stallions, who will play at 10 a.m. with the winner meeting Youngstown in the championship.
Cam Hollobaugh had two hits, scored twice and added an RBI, Jeremy Kruzewiser added two hits and scored a run while starting pitcher Trevor Strohmeyer threw four strong innings, scattered seven hits and allowed just one run.
“I had excellent run support from my team today and while I felt as though I threw a decent game, I could have hit some of my spots a little better,” Strohmeyer said. “I’m super excited to be advancing to the championship game.”
Hollobaugh played for Roth Brothers during the season.
“The only thing going through my mind was just be patient at the plate,” he said. “I was thinking first pitch fastball, got it and was able to turn on it for my first hit. Next time up, I almost got hit by a curveball with the first pitch, then got a fastball and was able to get my bat on it.”
Remaining in the winner’s bracket after Saturday’s game was the goal, according to manager Britt Taylor.
“It’s exciting to be able to represent the Class B league in the championship game,” he said. “It’s tough to assemble a team this time of the year, but this is a very special group. They hustle, are leaders and have great attitudes.”