After losing several close contests to commence the campaign, it was Tiger Time Wednesday afternoon in Hermitage.
Sharon High baseball team scored 4 runs in the 6th stanza, then relied on reliever Mike Songer to preserve a 7-6 District 10 Class AA region win over host Hickory.
Joey Tomko culminated a personal 3-for-3 plate performance with a run-scoring single to highlight the decisive rally.
Hickory had scored a trio of 5th-frame runs to take a short-lived 6-3 lead, but Songer shut out the Stingers over the final 2ê innings.
“Earlier in the year we lost three one-run games, and we kept talking about ‘ninety feet’ — we’re ninety feet short — and it was coming down to ninety feet again (Wednesday). But the kids battled back and did a real nice job,” summarized 3rd-year Tigers’ taskmaster Mike Tomko.
Hickory starter Mark DiBattiste toed the rubber in the 6th with that 3-run lead, but labored through a 24-pitch inning. Sparking Sharon was Justin Stefanowicz’s RBI-double, pinch-hitter Jason Sypolt’s run-scoring single, and Josh Nichols’ sacrifice-fly RBI. Hickory righthanded reliever Jason Gay entered a 2-on, 2-out situation, and Tomko tattooed his 1st pitch past diving shortstop Matt Delmonaco.
Sharon scored 3 first-inning runs on Xavier Mosley’s run-scoring double and Vinnie Shaffer’s 2-run single down the left-field line.
Hickory drew within 3-2 in the 3rd off Sharon starter Geno Merolillo on Andrew Schafer’s sac fly-RBI and a pair of Sharon miscues and wild pitches. The Hornets knotted the count at 3 in the 4th frame when Tigers’ reliever Cody Frazier — in a 2-out, bases-loaded situation — walked Andrew Schafer. However he retired Alex Knisley on a liner to left fielder Tomko.
In the 5th, Jared Baughman’s 2-out, bloop double down the right-field line eluded Sharon 2nd-sacker Anthony Martwinski and right fielder Mosley for 1 run. Kevin Pugliese then produced a 2-run double to the right-center field gap, hoisting Hickory ahead 6-3.
However Sharon southpaw Songer, in a 2-on, 2-out situation, struck out Schafer to short-circuit further damage.
“He’s been that way all four, five times that we’ve brought him in,” Coach Tomko said of Songer. “He’s answered the bell for us. He’s cool, collected — gives you a smile when he throws one away — but finds a way to make it work. He’s been our go-to guy when we’ve had a slight lead or needed him to hold down the fort for us.”
Songer silenced Hickory in the 6th, though the Hornets had the potential game-tying run on to start the 7th stanza. Sam Evans drew a leadoff walk; however Baughman botched a sacrifice bunt attempt that resulted in catcher Nichols nailing pinch-runner Daulton Linton on an delayed stolen base attempt.
Joe Tomko’s 3 hits and 2 apiece from Nick Carlo and Stefanowicz staked Sharon (3-2 region, 7-3 overall). Including Shaffer (2), 6 different players plated a run for the Tigers.
Highlights for Hickory (2-2, 6-4) included Pugliese’s 2-for-4, 2-RBI (plus a walk) plate performance and Baughman’s pair of hits, and Schafer also was credited with 2 RBI.
“We use words like effort and confidence and guts, so hopefully this is a jump-start and we’ll get where we want to be at the end,” summarized Sharon skipper Tomko.
Notes: DiBattiste, in 5ì innings and 87 pitches (53 strikes) yielded 7 runs on 9 hits, whiffed 2 and walked 1. Merolillo, in 3ì innings and 76 pitches (37 strikes) fanned 4, walked 4 and allowed 3 runs on 3 hits. Songer struck out 3 and walked 2. ... Sharon backstop Nichols made an athletic, diving catch of Pugliese’s foul pop-up in the 4th. ... Hornets’ headmaster Gary Hinkson was not in uniform, owing to some official city business. — By Ed Farrell, Herald assistant sports editor.
ä Sharpsville 13, Reynolds 1 (6 inn.) — At Transfer, Taylor Lenzi fired a 3-hitter with 2 strikeouts and 2 walks through 5 innings as the Blue Devils improved to 8-1. Nick Siguenza pitched the final inning and gave up 2 hits, then struck out the side.
Offensively for Sharpsville, Bryan Stafford tripled, doubled, singled, drove in 3 runs and scored 3 times, Tanner Morris doubled and singled with 4 RBI and 3 runs scored, Greg Popatak ripped an RBI-single and Tyler Wansack doubled and singled.
ä Grove City 10, Meadville 0 (5 inn.) — At Grove City Memorial Park, Torin Smith was a single away from hitting for the cycle and Josh Doody drove in 5 runs as the Eagles (4-0, 7-4) cruised to the region victory.
Smith tripled to open the game, doubled and pounded a walk-off 2-run homer to left field, while Doody doubled twice to produce his 5 ribbies.
Ben Lucas, Gavin Herald and Marcus DePeal produced the other singles for GC, which also accepted 5 walks and had two others receive free passes after being hit by a pitch. Matt Gordon picked up the win for the Eagles by allowing 3 hits and striking out 6 over 5 innings of work. He didn’t allow a walk.
Ted Williams, Tyler Lynch and Thompson singled for the Bulldogs, while Alex Glatch and Corey Stainbrook took turns on the mound.— By Herald Sports Correspondent Corey J. Corbin.
ä Rocky Grove 7, Jamestown 6 — At Jamestown, the Muskies (0-6) suffered a tough 1-run loss to the Orioles.
Kirwin earned the win. He fanned 8, walked 2 and gave up 5 runs on 8 hits for RG. Scott Murray and Robbie Adams both singled and doubled for the Orioles and Gannoe ripped 2 singles and a double.
Alex Boylan pitched 6 innings for Jamestown. He struck out 6, walked 1 and gave up 7 runs on 8 hits. At the plate for the Muskies, Boylan and Cameron Motzing both had 2 doubles and a single and Adam Trevor doubled.
ä Lakeview 6, Conneaut Valley 2 — At Stoneboro, Derek Giovengo pitched a complete-game 4-hitter with 9 strikeouts and 3 walks for the Sailors.
Austin Slater singled and doubled for Lakeview and Andrew Parimuha, Brandon Persch and Shane Whitehouse doubled.
Jordan King took the loss for CV. He fanned 1, issued 2 walks and gave up 6 runs on 6 hits in 4 innings. Cody Payne singled and doubled for the Indians.
ä Hickory 10, Slippery Rock 8 — At the “Homer Dome” in Hermitage, the host Lady Hornets held off slugging Slippery Rock.
Kyrie Ireland and teammate M. Bosch blasted 3-run home runs for the visiting Lady Rockets, and C. Vogan launched a solo shot. However Hickory led from the outset, according to head coach Tony Rock.
Hickory starting pitcher Megan Chess, in 4-plus innings, allowed only 2 hits and struck out 2, but walked 5 and allowed 4 runs. Emily Chess, in 3 innings of 3-hit relief, whiffed 3 and walked 3. She also smashed a solo shot.
Also for Hickory (4-0 Region 5-AAA, 6-4 overall), Megan Chess and Lauren Ferreri both singled and doubled and Morgan McBride doubled.
Slippery starter Steph Kotomski permitted all 10 runs on 11 hits and a walk.
ä Hickory 5, Sharon 0 — At Hermitage, the Hornets improved to 4-4 with the sweep over the Tigers, who fell to 2-7.
Singles: Corey Schurko (H) def. Ben Rauch, 6-0, 6-0; Ross Rosati (H) def. John Benedetto, 6-7(5-7), 6-2, 6-0; Mark Caracci (H) def. Justin Bucci, 6-2, 6-0. Doubles: Jake Thomas-Charles Bartelmay (H) def. Dylan Cerroni-Jay McVehil, 7-6(7-4), 6-4; Nelson Murphy-Cory Powell (H) def. Steven Merchant-Darin Perozich, 6-2, 7-5.
ä Greenville 5, Rocky Grove 0 — At Greenville, the Trojans only lost 2 games, both at No. 2 doubles, as they rolled over RG.
Singles: Chad Ferguson (G) def. Trevor Irwin, 6-0, 6-0; Sean McErlane (G) def. Henry Gent, 6-0, 6-0; Jake Hunker (G) def. Austin Barnett, 6-0, 6-0. Doubles: Aiden Overfield-Nathan Uzarski (G) def. Josh Winger-Isaac Coon, 6-0, 6-0; Zach Kussin-Cody Eells (G) def. Tyler Ferricks-Tyler Warrington, 6-0, 6-2.
ä Grove City 5, Oil City 0 — At Grove City, the Eagles improved to 6-3 with the sweep over the Oilers.
Singles: Matt Welker (GC) Greg Slye, 6-1, 6-1; Steven Hunter (GC) def. Adam Strickland, 6-0, 6-3; Adam McCracken (GC) def. Randy Bearer, 6-0, 6-2. Doubles: Conner Smith-Evan Lowers (GC) def. Andrew Scott-Richard Foster, 6-0, 6-2; Ravi Patel-Chris Adams (GC) def. Louden Buchanan-David Crawford, 6-0, 6-0.