Meadville Tribune

Sports

July 3, 2014

Cochranton pitching duo perfect in shutout of McLane

COCHRANTON — The fire-balling Freyermuth kid was pure dominant against General McLane on Thursday night.

Overpowering the McLane batters with a glove-popping fastball, Curtis Freyermuth threw 42/3 innings of perfect baseball and relief pitcher Ian Haynes retired the final four batters as Cochranton’s nasty 1-2 pitching duo combined on a 6-0 perfecto in the District 1 Little League winner’s bracket final at Cochranton High School.

Freyermuth — who has been clocked in the 70-miles range — struck out 12 of the 14 batters he faced. The two non-strikeouts were weak groundouts to Freyermuth and first baseman Caleb Glancy.

After the groundout to Glancy in the fifth inning in which Freyermuth hit the 65-pitch count, Cochranton coach Matt Bernarding had to make one of the toughest decisions in his all-star coaching career: to remove the unhittable hurler.

Bernarding made the move so Freyermuth would be available for the finals.

“Oh yeah, it was a tough decision,” said the grinning Bernardiing. “I would have kept Curtis in the game if it was still 1-0, but we scored two runs in the top of the fifth. He understood.”

As been the pattern in the tournament, Haynes finished the job for Cochranton. Four up, four down. General McLane’s Sam Petkac hit a hard shot to lead off the sixth inning, but Cochranton left fielder Brandon Richter got a good jump and hauled it in.

Did Bernarding, Freyermuth and Haynes know what was transpiring during the game?

“I did ... but I didn’t say anything because I was afraid I was going to jinx us,” said Bernarding. It was the second time this season Freyermuth and Haynes combined on a perfect game as the right-handers hurled a gem in the West Middlesex tournament during the Memorial Day weekend.

It was Freyermuth’s bat that shook up General McLane initially as he opened the game with a tape-measured home run.

Cochranton was knocking on the door for more runs in the second inning, but General McLane center fielder Grady Johnson prevented Bernarding’s diamonders from scoring.

With Noah Bernarding and Alex Johnson standing on third and second, respectively, Haynes drilled a shot into the right-center field gap. To Haynes’ disbelief, Grady Johnson made a fully-extended catch for the third out in the inning.

As Bernarding mentioned, Cochranton maintained its 1-0 lead until the fifth when the Justin Dunlevy delivered. After Haynes reached on a fielder’s choice and Josh Merchbaker and Glancy were issued successive walks to load the bases, Dunlevy greeted McLane relief pitcher Johnson with a two-run single to give Cochranton a 3-0 lead.

Enough runs to save Freyermuth for the finals.

Capitalizing on four McLane errors in the sixth, Cochranton added three insurance runs. The sweet-swinging Merchbaker roped a RBI double and Jackson lined a single to right field.

“This is the first step,” said Bernarding. “We have bigger plans. We haven’t accomplished anything yet. We have a bigger test awaiting us in the finals.”

Game notes: Freyermuth threw 66 pitches, 45 for strikes ... Merchbaker and Jackson were 2-for-2 ... Stepping up: Merchbaker’s mother, Chris Merchbaker — the former Meadville High School all-state swimmer and West Virginia University standout. She was pressed into duty to be the game’s announcer and did a fantastic job.

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