The Elk County Catholic Crusader baseball team picked up a 7-2 victory over the Ridgway Elkers in their home opener at Berwind Park on Thursday afternoon.
Ridgway put a run on the board in the top of the first inning to take an early lead, but the Crusaders immediately answered back with three runs in the bottom half of the inning to take a lead that they would never relinquish.
ECC extended their lead with another run in the fourth. Ridgway added another run in the top of the fifth, but Elk again answered with a pair of their own in the bottom half of the inning. The Crusaders were able to push one more run across the plate in the sixth to take the 7-2 win.
"They played very well again tonight," said ECC coach Tom Zampogna. "Defensively they played good. The pitching was good again tonight. We've got a young bunch of kids, and that's what's going to be the difference for them this year, I think, as a defensive team."
The Crusaders had seven hits in the contest. Dan Singer and Bryan Haberberger each had two singles, Jack Herzing doubled, and Vincent Jacob and Mitchell O'Neill both singled.
The Elkers ended the day with five hits. Josh Mitchell doubled while Jesse Reynolds, Josh Roselli, Ben MacDonald, and JoJo Jaques all singled.
"We didn't help ourselves, let's put it that way," said Ridgway coach Mark Morelli. "We played well Tuesday, but today we just had a couple mistakes in terms of fielding and things like that. They're correctable errors. We're going to be fine. We came off of a good win on Tuesday, and tonight we found out we've still got some more things that we need to work on. The kids are a little bit disappointed, but there's things that we'll work on and we'll get better."
Ivan Wortman started on the mound for the Crusaders and worked three innings, giving up two hits, walking one, and striking out three. Brandon Schlimm worked two innings in relief, giving up two hits, walking one, and striking out six. Ben Cortina also worked an inning of relief, striking out two. Jack Herzing worked the final inning in relief for the Crusaders, giving up one hit and striking out two.
Josh Mitchell started on the mound for the Elkers and worked three innings, giving up two hits, walking one, and striking out five. Ben MacDonald worked the final three innings in relief, giving up five hits, walking one, and striking out three.
"MacDonald and Mitchell both pitched well enough, but we just didn't help behind them on the field - that was the big key to the game, especially in the first inning. We gave them three runs basically on our mistakes and then later in the game we gave them a couple more runs on our mistakes. It's a long season, though," Morelli said.
With two outs in the top of the first inning, Josh Roselli singled and advanced as MacDonald reached base on an error. A single by JoJo Jaques scored Roselli, giving the Elkers the early lead. Josh Braley walked to load the bases, but Zac McKnight was unable to beat the throw to first, ending the top half of the inning and preventing Ridgway from adding to their 1-0 lead. In the home half of the inning, Vincent Jacob started things out for the Crusaders with a single and then advanced to second on an error. Dan Singer made it on base on an error that also saw Jacob score to tie the game at 1-all. Ivan Wortman made it to first on a fielder's choice that saw Singer thrown out at second. Joe McLaughlin struck out to give ECC their second out of the inning. Brock McCullough made it on base on a dropped third strike and was able to continue on to second as the catcher overthrew the ball to the first baseman. Wortman also scored on the play, giving ECC a narrow lead. Jack Herzing also reached base on an error, which also saw McCullough score. Herzing was left stranded, though, as Pat Brennen flied out to the shortstop to end the inning with Elk Catholic on top 3-1.
The Elkers went down in order in the top of the second inning. With two outs in the bottom half of the inning, Jacob walked and advanced on a single by Singer, but Wortman flied out to center field, ending the inning.
Ridgway's batters again went down in order in the top of the third. The Crusaders did not fare much better in their half of the inning. With two outs, Herzing reached base on an error, but was left stranded as Brennen flied out to center field.
With one out in the top of the fourth, Braley walked to give Ridgway a base runner, but he was unable to advance as the next two batters struck out. Elk was able to add to their lead in the home half of the inning. Ben Cortina reached base on an error. After one out, Jacob again walked to give ECC runners on first and second. A single by Singer scored Cortina and advanced Jacob; however, Jacob was thrown out at third on a fielder's choice that saw Wortman make it on base. Shea Meyer struck out to end the inning with ECC now up 4-1.
With one out in the top of the fifth, Mitchell reached base on an error for Ridgway. He advanced on a single by Reynolds and a walk by Roselli, and scored on a single by MacDonald. The next two batters struck out, leaving the bases loaded and preventing the Elkers from further cutting into the Crusaders' lead. Elk Catholic added two more runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Mitchell O'Neill singled and scored on a double by Herzing. Haberberger also singled, and Ben Cortina reached first on a fielder's choice that loaded the bases for ECC. Schlimm got on base on a fielder's choice that saw Herzing thrown out at home. With two outs, Singer made it to first on an error that saw Haberberger score. Wortman struck out to bring about the team's third out, ending the inning with Elk on top 6-2.
Ridgway's batters went down in order in the top of the sixth. ECC added their final run in the bottom of the inning. Meyer was hit by a pitch and replaced on base with McLaughlin, who later scored on an error. After two outs, Haberberger singled but was not able to advance as Cortina flied out to center field to send the game into the final inning with the Crusaders winning 7-2.
In the top of the seventh, Mitchell doubled and later advanced to third on a passed ball. That's as far as he could get, though, as the next three batters went down in order to secure Elk Catholic's 7-2 victory.
ECC is now 2-0 on the season and will host Johnsonburg on Monday at 4:15 p.m. at Berwind Park.
Ridgway is now 1-1 on the season and will play at Brockway Monday.
Josh Mitchell 4-1-1, Jesse Reynolds 4-0-1, Josh Roselli 3-1-1, Ben MacDonald 4-0-1, JoJo Jaques 3-0-1, Josh Braley 1-0-0, Zac McKnight 3-0-0, Josh Lineberger 2-0-0, Cody Delhunty 1-0-0, Evan Nourse 2-0-0, Mike Covac 1-0-0. Totals 28-2-5.
Vincent Jacob 2-1-1, Dan Singer 4-0-2, Ivan Wortman 4-1-0, Joe McLaughlin 2-1-0, Shea Meyer 1-0-0, Brock McCullough 2-1-0, Mitchell O'Neill 2-1-1, Jack Herzing 4-0-1, Pat Brennen 2-0-0, Bryan Haberberger 2-1-2, Ben Cortina 4-1-0, Wes Brennen 1-0-0, Brandon Schlimm 2-0-0. Totals 32-7-7.
Score by innings R
Ridgway 100 100 0 2
ECCHS 300 121 x 7