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Widrig shines again as Boardman blanks Fitch

AUSTINTOWN — The Austintown Fitch Falcons would probably prefer not to have to see Boardman’s Griffin Widrig on the mound ever again.

Thankfully for them, he’s a senior, but he again pitched lights out as he shut down Fitch in a Division I Sectional Final Thursday evening to lead the Spartans to a 5-0 victory.

“To be honest, coming into the game I was feeling really good,” Widrig said. “I was amped up all day in school. I was ready to go on the mound. Once I got out here I just started focusing. I know how to throw strikes because I don’t want to run up the pitch count. I just think going at hitters is the best way to do it.”

He definitely did that by getting ahead in the count most of the evening.

A week ago, he shut out the Falcons and held them scoreless over 13 innings as his 12 strikeouts were the difference as some miscues by Fitch outfielders did them no favors.

A constant shining sun seemed to present issues in the second inning when the Spartans scored three runs on RBI singles from Seth Cervello and Widrig.

Fitch coach Joe Paris didn’t want to use that as an excuse.

“We didn’t deserve to win,” he added. “It’s that simple. Those balls weren’t lost in the sun; just a lack of leadership in the outfield. No one took charge. We let two balls fall in and that’s how they got the runs. I think out of the five runs, only one was earned, but the bottom line is, their pitcher shut us out again.

“That’s two straight games where he shut us out. He’s one heck of a pitcher. He pumped strikes in there and he got ahead of all our guys. We just struggled. When you’re going up against a pitcher like that, you have to play flawlessly defensively and we didn’t do that tonight.”

Still, Fitch pitcher Joe Roth held his own as he struck out eight over the course of the game and was able to work his way out of a couple of jams.

In the bottom of the third, the Falcons seemed to figure out Widrig after he struck out Jack Knight to start the inning.

Three straight singles from Dom Perry, Drew Kaschak, and Carter Owens loaded the bases.

Gabriel went to the mound to talk strategy and it paid off with the pitcher going from his fastball to a curveball.

“I think that was there a moment to get back in the game,” Boardman coach Joe Gabriel said. “Griffin made that adjustment on the mound going to his curveball a little more and that definitely paid off for him. He did a great job of getting out of the inning and I think that kind of flipped it back.”

Widrig got Mikey Sciortino to pop up to first and from there got Brandon Popio to go down swinging.

“One through five, they’re pretty solid,” Widrig added. “I think it was the three hitter up and I got a couple of curveballs over and luckily he popped out to first but I mean, props to them, they’re a good hitting team. I just had to lock in. I just think I started throwing more curveballs and started locating them better. I think that’s what was working for me.”

For Paris, he’s seen that act before as it has been a constant theme all year.

“We struggled to put a bunch of hits together,” Paris said. “We stole bases. We bunted and moved guys around. Today with their pitcher on the mound and their catcher, they nullified the run game. He’s quick to first. He’s quick to the plate. Their catcher has a great arm back there so we weren’t able to do anything.

The Spartans added two more runs in the top half of the fourth when Cervello’s hit to third was thrown over the first baseman’s head to score Stephen Conti.

Widrig put the exclamation point on the game with his double scoring Cervello to make it the final margin as the Falcons managed just three hits over the final four innings.

“Those guys have been getting hot at the right time,” Gabriel said. “Seth, especially, has been getting hot. Griffin’s been pretty consistent all year long. Seth’s getting hot helps us big time. Colin Thomas is one of those guys that always seems to find a way to get on base, whether it be an infield hit, bunt, or just a scrappy play. They’ve done a great job.”

Thomas went 3-for-4 with two singles and a double.

“We struggled a little bit in the beginning of the season, but towards the end we’re starting to pick up a little bit,” Cervello said. “Everybody in the order can hit and get on base for us. It’s the perfect time and we just do our jobs when it comes to the plate.”

After knocking off the fourth seed Falcons, the Spartans will look to continue their play of late when they meet up with the sixth seed Lake Blue Streaks on Tuesday.

“I think it was just us playing with confidence,” Gabriel said. “We just felt like we weren’t playing as well as we could play. Credit to our guys, they’ve just started to play better of late and it’s starting to pay off.”

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