By Lisa Byers
June 21, 2013 7:00 a.m. SAEGERTOWN —
On June 9, French Creek Valley picked up its first win of the Crawford/Venango American Legion baseball season. The Creekers beat Oil City 11-0 in five innings.
Thursday’s rematch went a bit differently.
Through four innings there was little action to speak of. Then in the fifth, Oil City broke through with three runs to take a 3-0 lead. And with FCV’s offense still struggling, it looked as though that would be enough.
But, once again, for the second night in a row, FCV found a way.
The Creekers tied it up with three runs in the sixth and Mitchell Wood scored on an error with no outs in the seventh inning to boost FCV to a 4-3 win over Oil City at Ed Acker Field.
“It hasn’t been pretty at all,” FCV coach Brandon Crum said. “But we’re getting the job done. We’re getting the W’s and coming through when we need to, but we need to get better.”
It has been an up and down season for FCV thus far. Following the aforementioned win over Oil City to kick off the season, FCV dropped a 4-3 decision to Franklin and then dropped its first two games of the Pizza Hut Hillbilly Hardball Classic before knocking off defending West Virginia American Legion state champion Elkins and a solid Prospect (Ohio) squad.
On Thursday, the Creekers slipped past Meadville 7-6 in nine innings.
“We’re struggling to get a set lineup,” said FCV’s Drew Durasa, who made his first appearance at catcher in at least a year and a half yesterday. “We’re working with what we got. We just have to keep playing, keep hitting.”
Cole Baker got the start on the mound for the Creekers and threw four shutout innings. The Conneaut Area Senior High product did get in a couple of jams. He had runners on second and third with one out in the second. In the third, he had the bases loaded. He got out of both situations unscathed.
In the fifth, Oil City finally took advantage.
Tyler Ripper got things started with an infield single against FCV reliever Ryan Paden. Jonah Jones singled and Tony Chmiel drew a walk to load the bases. Mitchell Eberle also walked, driving in Ripper with the first run of the game.
Luke Carter threw Jones out at the plate on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Ben Perry for the first out. Tim Staub’s squeeze bunt scored Chmiel, though, and Hunter French hit a sacrifice fly to score Eberle and put the Oilers up 3-0.
Oil City loaded up the bases again in the sixth. But Paden buckled down and did not allow a run, giving the Creekers a chance in the bottom half of the sixth.
With two outs, Carter was hit by a pitch and scored on a single by Durasa that was misplayed in the outfield. Baker followed with a walk to put runners at first and second. Then Trey Reagle hit a shot through the right side scoring Durasa. And Jacob Digiacomo followed with a nearly identical shot, scoring Baker to tie it at 3-3.
Oil City stranded a runner at third in the seventh inning thanks to a running catch by Digiacomo on a liner off the bat of Ripper.
Mitchell Wood drew his second walk of the game to give the Creekers a baserunner. The bunt sign, to no surprise, was then given to Scott Sada. Sada put down a perfect bunt in front of the pitcher’s mound, the throw was off the mark and Crum waved Wood around third.
Wood slid across the plate just before the tag to give the Creekers a 4-3 win.
Nine players. New positions. Another win.
“It’s a different group and they are really stringing together,” Crum said. “We have nine, 10 kids a game. We are used to 18.”
“We’re all ready to play,” Durasa said following the game. “We just love baseball. We want to be out here. We want to play and we’re going to keep playing.”
Then off to the batting cage Durasa headed with his teammates for the fourth time Thursday.
“We already hit this morning,” he said. “We hit this afternoon. We hit before the game. Now we’re hitting. We need to get better.”