Baird Brothers’ Russell throws shutout
By dan hiner
It didn’t take long for Baird Brothers pitcher Andrew Russell to find his groove.
Russell pitched a three-hitter in Baird Brothers 18-U team’s 4-0 win over Ohio Select on Friday at Cene Park.
The win was Baird Brothers’ third over the last four games. Its game with Roth Brothers finished in a 0-0 tie on Tuesday.
The Champion pitcher struck out 10 and didn’t allow a walk in a complete game.
Russell allowed a single in each of the first two innings, but pitched four consecutive perfect innings before Ohio Select’s Dominic Palko doubled with one out in the seventh.
He struck out the side in order on nine pitches in the fifth inning. Russell said he couldn’t recall ever doing so at any point in his career.
Russell credited former Boardman catcher Coleman Stauffer for calling a good game.
“It definitely goes to the catching,” Russell said. “I give [Stauffer] a lot of credit for calling the pitches, and me just hitting the spots is what really does it.”
After Friday’s win, Russell is 2-0 in his three outing this season and he leads the team with 26 strikeouts. He’s allowed one run in 16 innings.
“I knew with Russell on the mound, we don’t need to much run support,” Stauffer said. “He does a great job out there.”
Baird Brothers’ bats helped take some of the edge off Russell before he stepped foot on the mound.
Travis Perry’s RBI single to left field drove in Steve D’Eusanio in the top of the first inning, giving Baird Brothers (9-1-1) an early lead.
In the second, Stauffer drove in Jacob McCaskey with an RBI single down the right-field line. It was Stauffer’s seventh RBI of the year.
“It definitely [takes pressure off], just knowing that the team has my back,” Russell said. “They’re putting up the runs and all I have to do is my part, which is throwing strikes and let the defense do their work.”
After a leadoff single by Perry, Zach Mancz hit a two-run home run for his second homer of the season. Mancz kept a 1-0 fastball just inside the right-field foul poll to extend the lead to 4-0.
“[Mancz’s home run] definitely put that little edge, where we start to feel a little more comfortable,” Stauffer said. “It helped build a lot of insurance for us.”
Baird Brothers’ defense took any momentum away from Ohio Select in the first inning.
Ohio Select’s Brandon Szopo hit leadoff single down the third-base line. The ball grazed the glove of third baseman Jacob Keene and kicked into foul territory. Szopo tried to advance to second, but Keene made a perfect throw to second baseman Josh Hoffman, who applied the tag.
Ohio Select pitcher Matt Kalady allowed four runs on eight hits in a complete game. He struck out three and didn’t allow a walk.
The middle of the lineup did most of the damage for Baird Brothers.
Perry and D’Eusanio, two future Youngstown State players on the roster, each finished 2 for 3 with a run scored. Keene also added a single in the first inning.
Stauffer went 1 for 2 with an RBI in a pleasant return home.
He recently finished his freshman season with the Mount Union baseball team. Stauffer recorded his first collegiate hit and scored in a 10-9 loss to Rhode Island College. It was his only at-bat of the season.
“I always knew I could come [play for Baird Brothers], but it’s the last year I’ll be able to come here,” Stauffer said. “I’m enjoying it the most I can. It’s fun, it’s gonna stink when it’s over but I’m having a great time with it.”