WILCOX – Wilcox American Legion baseball squeezed its way to a 2-0 victory over St. Marys Monday night at Jones Township Community Park.
Wilcox scored both of its runs on suicide squeeze plays in the sixth inning to break what had been a scoreless tie to that point.
"We had it on a few times earlier, we didn't come through with it," Wilcox coach Jeff Peterson said.
Wilcox opened the inning with a Mitchell Holmberg single to right field. After a flyout, Josh Mitchell singled past third and Ben MacDonald reached on an infield single between third base and the pitcher as there was indecision to who would field the ball. Holmberg then scored on a suicide squeeze as St. Marys threw a pitch that was low and not fielded cleanly for the game's first run. Quinn Luhr struck out but reached on a dropped third strike to reload the bases for Wilcox. Jesse Reynolds then made contact on a bunt with Mitchell dashing toward home. Mitchell scored while Reynolds was out at first.
"To lose on a couple squeeze plays like that, that's tough to take but we'll learn from it and go on from there," St. Marys coach Fran Pasi said.
St. Marys starting pitcher Jack Herzing finished the inning with a strikeout, one of seven recorded in a complete game effort. Herzing also went one out into the fourth inning before allowing a hit.
"I thought Jack Herzing pitched a real good ballgame and their pitchers pitched well," Pasi said. "It was a good ballgame, it's a tough one to lose but we'll see what happens Wednesday and we'll go from there. That's all we can do."
St. Marys' best chance of the game came in the second inning. Herzing helped his own cause on the mound with a double to right field. Ben Cortina walked and Dan Singer reached on a bunt single down the third base line as Wilcox pitcher Cole Peterson lost his footing trying to field the ball. Jake Cortina then hit into a 6-2-3 double play with forceouts at home and first to put two outs on the board. Peterson ended the threat with a strikeout.
"Both teams played well, I thought we had our chances to score in the second inning and didn't come through with it," Pasi said.
St. Marys couldn't capitalize with the bases loaded and no one out but Wilcox went through the same scenario in the home half of the second. Mitchell and MacDonald walked to open the inning and Luhr was hit by a pitch. CJ Herbstritt flew out to center and a strong throw prevented any chance of a sacrifice fly. With Cameron Grumley at the plate, Mitchell dashed home on a squeeze play but was tagged out at the plate as the bunt attempt was ruled to have missed. A popout then ended the threat for Wilcox as the game remained scoreless.
St. Marys had few sustained threats other than the second inning. St. Marys went 1-2-3 in the first, third, sixth and seventh innings with Mitchell striking out the St. Marys side in the seventh inning to end the game. For Wilcox, Peterson threw four shutout innings and allowed three hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Mitchell pitched three innings of no-hit baseball as he also walked one and struck out five.
"Cole threw real well, Josh threw well. Those two, they're tough," coach Peterson said. "They keep you off guard enough and they can locate. It was nice."
Coach Peterson also said he wants to give Mitchell and Peterson some rest from pitching.
"I think I'm going to back off with Josh and Cole a little bit, give them a break and start throwing some other guys and let the dice fall where they fall," coach Peterson said. "Josh threw all through high school, Cole threw all through high school. They've thrown every game pretty much. If we need them in a clutch situation if it's really close, we'll do it. We'll start going to the other arms a little bit."
St. Marys did get a baserunner in the fourth as Ivan Wortman led off with a single and reached second on a passed ball but Peterson fanned the next two St. Marys hitters and forced a 5-3 groundout from Singer to end the threat.
Wilcox had 1-2-3 innings in the first, third and fifth innings. Coach Peterson said Wilcox is winning even with struggling hitting.
"We didn't swing the bat very well," coach Peterson said. "Jack threw a nice game, he kept us off guard a little bit. We've been struggling the last couple games swinging. I don't know what it is, sooner or later we're going to break out of it and really tear it up. Right now, we're winning, we're squeaking through it to win."
In the bottom of the fourth, Mitchell reached with a 1-out walk. After a flyout, Luhr singled up the middle for Wilcox's first hit of the game. Herzing was able to get a popout to the catcher to end the inning.
Each team finished with three hits. Wortman, Herzing and Singer each had one hit for St. Marys while Mitchell, MacDonald and Luhr each had a hit for Wilcox. Mitchell reached base two other times on walks. Luhr reached as he was hit by a pitch and on a dropped third strike. MacDonald also added a walk.
Wilcox (6-0) will have a rematch with St. Marys (4-1) on Wednesday night at Berwind Park for a 7:30 p.m. game. Coach Peterson said the hitting has struggled for the third straight game and has to get better.
"We didn't hit well against Smethport, we didn't hit well against Bradford, we didn't hit well here," coach Peterson said. "Maybe it's a good thing we're struggling and still getting by but sooner or later we got to start hitting or we're going to fall apart. It's just like we did in high school, we had a hitting lapse and it bit us. We're scraping and scratching by. We got to get moving, get more consistent with the sticks. The small ball game worked and it's a win."
St. Marys 0
Eric Wehler 3-0-0, Mitchell Meyer 3-0-0, Ivan Wortman 3-0-1, Jack Herzing 3-0-1, Ben Cortina 2-0-0, Dan Singer 3-0-1, Jake Cortina 3-0-0, Anthony Grimone 2-0-0, Shea Meyer 1-0-0, Kyle Schneider 0-0-0. Totals 23-0-3.
Cole Peterson 3-0-0, Mitchell Holmberg 3-1-0, Joe Holmberg 3-0-0, Josh Mitchell 1-1-1, Ben MacDonald 2-0-1, Quinn Luhr 2-0-1, CJ Herbstritt 1-0-0, Cameron Grumley 2-0-0, Frank Kocjancic 1-0-0, Jesse Reynolds 1-0-0, Kyle Sheldon 1-0-0, Taylor Feronti 1-0-0. Totals 21-2-3.
Score by innings R
St. Marys 000 000 0 0
Wilcox 000 002 x 2