By TOM WILLIAMS
Once nerves settled from extra media attention, the Canfield 11-12 baseball team surged for an 8-2 victory over Boardman on Wednesday at Fields of Dreams.
Dylan Mancini’s three-run home and triple led Canfield’s batting attack in the Little League district championship round.
Canfield’s victory forces a winner-take-all district title game at 7 p.m. today. Earlier in the tournament, Boardman defeated Canfield, 4-2.
Canfield starter Noah Anzevino overcame a 29-pitch first inning to limit Boardman to one run on four hits in three innings. He threw 73 pitches.
“News vans, lots of fans – it’s not our normal baseball game so his nerves were up,” Canfield manager Dan Anzevino said.
The game was broadcast on MyYTV.
“He seemed to settle in and really kept [Boardman] at bay,” said Anzevino, who noticed when the impact of the extra cameras dissipated.
“Once we got on the field, they were playing ball,” Anzevino said. “Before, it did [affect them] a little.”
Canfield’s Aidan Radinsky pitched the final two innings, allowing a run on three hits.
Boardman scored once in the first inning and stranded three runners. Luke Kollar’s lead-off walk was followed by Grayson Eicher reaching on a fielder’s choice.
With two outs Tyler Kirlik singled and Kaden Mayhew walked to load the bases. Ryan Neifer then walked to score Eicher for a 1-0 lead.
Mancini’s second at-bat changed the game’s momentum. In the third inning, Drew Snyder walked and with two outs Noah Anzevino singled. Two pitches later, Mancini put Canfield ahead for keeps with a homer over the left-field fence.
Mancini said he felt good running to first base as the ball sailed.
“[Then] I just started jogging around first, happy because we [took] the lead,” the Canfield first baseman said. “It was important – last time motivated us to hit better. We got down in the first inning and just fell apart.
“Today, we just kept battling.”
Canfield scored three more in the fourth inning. With one out, Snyder walked then scored on Jake Bednar’s double to center field.
”We were rocky on defense,” Bednar said of the first game against Boardman, adding “it feels good” to force a third game.
“Hopefully, it doesn’t rain and we get a win.”
Three walks and a passed ball helped Canfield make it 6-1.
Canfield scored twice in the sixth inning. Mancini’s triple opened the frame and he scored on Rocco Diflorio’s base hit. Pinch-runner Nick Berardino scored on Julian Tranovich’s double.
Boardman’s other run came in the final at-bat. Kollar walked and Eicher singled. Then with one out, Kirlik singled to score Kollar.
Dom Triveri, Boardman’s manager, confirmed that if today’s game is postponed, both teams could benefit from pitchers becoming eligible with an extra day of rest.
“Maybe it does,” Triveri said. “We’re [in] pretty good [shape] in pitching right now. We still have a lot of guys who are ready to throw. We’ll be all right. ”
Last year, Boardman won the 11-12 district title and played in the state tournament in North Canton. Kirlik and Anthony Triveri are Boardman’s veteran players from the state trip.
A year ago, Canfield won the first game against Boardman in the district tournament before Boardman won twice.
Dan Anzevino said “it feels great” to get another shot at a district crown.
“We’ve battled with these guys for four years. It’s been a wonderful series, if you think of it as a 50-game series,” Anzevino said, laughing. “It’s just been great to battle with these guys.
“I was so excited to see the kids get [the lead] and be energetic.”
The district champion will qualify for the state tournament in New Albany from July 20-26.