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Kennedy cruises past Lisbon with 8-0 win

Warren JFK freshman Freddy Bolchalk throws a pitch Tuesday against Lisbon in an 8-0 win.

STRUTHERS — In what seems like a yearly tradition, the John F. Kennedy Eagles played another Division IV district semifinal at Bob Cene Park on Tuesday.

Coming off of a state championship in 2021, the veteran Eagles went with a freshman on the mound against Lisbon and Freddy Bolchalk didn’t disappoint the JFK fans, as he tossed a complete game shutout in an 8-0 victory.

“This was my second complete game of the season,” Bolchalk said. “I was confident coming in.

That’s the mentality you have to have.

“At first, I went with my fastball. Then, I mixed in the off speed. There were some bumps along the way, but I grinded through it.”

The Eagles (16-5) were up 5-0 in the top of the fifth, but Lisbon loaded the bases with nobody out. Bolchalk got a pair of pop-ups, and a strikeout, to get out of the inning unscathed.

“You have to maintain your focus, and your mechanics,” Bolchalk said. “You have to believe in yourself, and trust that the team behind you is going to field the ball.”

Bolchalk finished the game with 11 strikeouts while surrendering just 3 hits.

“It was just an outstanding job by our freshman,” JFK coach Jim Ciambotti said. “It was his first big game, and he came through with flying colors. It was a dominating performance. We’re proud of him.

“We were confident that he could work his way out of trouble. His pitch count was low. We had a little bit of a cushion. He’s a great kid. He really works hard at his craft.”

Jake Hettrick singled. Caleb Hadley smashed the ball all the way to the wall, and raced around the bases for a triple. Aiden Rossi and Quinn Meola scored, and Michael Mauro knocked in a pair of runs for the Eagles.

Senior Damien McCormick was the starting pitcher for Lisbon. McCormick battled and fellow senior Ryan Reckner had a leadoff single in the top of the fourth. Lisbon won a sectional title for the third year in a row, but they were also eliminated by JFK in the districts for the third consecutive season.

“I’m proud of our kids,” Lisbon coach Doug Andric said. “There were no expectations for us. We tried to play free. They’re the defending state champs. Damien threw a real good game. There were a couple of errors that turned into runs.

“We could have come out here and been intimidated. But, we got off to a decent start. We just try to compete every pitch.”

Senior Gavin Shrum was still competing when he drove in two runs with a double in the bottom of the sixth for JFK.

” It was a great win,” Shrum said. “We hope it’s the first of many. We’re going to put a lot of work in. We need to hit a little better because we’re going to be playing some really good teams.”

The Eagles will play Lake Center Christian in the district final on Thursday.

“We have great respect for their program,” Ciambotti said. “They beat us earlier this year. We’re just happy to be playing Thursday.”

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