By Pete Chiodo
May 7, 2013 7:00 a.m. MEADVILLE —
It’s not everyday a baseball team can strand 16 runners in a seven-inning game and still celebrate a win.
But that’s just how productive Conneaut’s offense was on Monday as it defeated neighborhood foe Meadville 6-3 in a Region 6 clash at Eldred Glen.
“We came out of the gates hot,” said Conneaut head coach Todd Greenawalt. “Then we went back to our old form, leaving the bases loaded in three innings. We had a chance to really put some crooked numbers up there and make it a little more comfortable game. But I’m proud of the way they came to play.”
The win was the fourth in a row for Conneaut, which improved to 7-7 on the year and 3-4 in Region 6.
“It’s great to sweep Meadville,” said Conneaut junior Cole Baker. “They’re starting to become our rival, so it’s nice to beat them twice.”
Meadville, meanwhile, dropped to 4-9 overall and 2-4 in region play.
“We had our chances,” said Meadville head coach Bruce Stewart. “It’s been like that all year. We’re just one hit away from being right there. And we can’t seem to quite come up with it. Being as young as we are, we’ve got to live with it. And we’ll keep battling.”
Along with a dozen base hits for the Eagles, they also drew six walks, were hit by a pitch once and hit into two errors.
“Our offense was really on,” said Eagles senior Brandon Sherman. “I’ve been waiting for this game since Saturday, after the Mercer game. So it felt really good to hit out here (Monday).”
Sherman was 4-for-4 at the plate for Conneaut, reaching base in every plate appearance thanks to a walk fifth. He was also 3-for-3 with runners on base, hitting an RBI double in the first, an RBI single in the second and another in the third.
The rest of the team? Well, there were a few other clutch hits. Luke Graham hit an RBI single in Conneaut’s three-run second. Baker — who was 3-for-5 at the plate — also had a run-scoring single in the frame. And Jack Andrew forced in a run in the fifth with a bases-loaded ground ball.
Conneaut had opportunities to do a lot more damage, though. In the fourth, the Eagles had the bases loaded with no outs. But Meadville relief pitcher Trevor Smith struck out the next two batters and coaxed a grounder to get out of the jam.
Conneaut then loaded the bases with one out in the fifth. Andrew hit a run in on that grounder. Jon Onderko then walked to load the bases again. But Smith worked a pop-up for out No. 3.
Once again in the seventh, Conneaut had the bags full with two outs, but Kye Hopkins got the third out with a K.
“We left a couple on,” said Sherman. “We’ve been doing that a lot this year.”
That might have come back to bite the Eagles were it not for Baker’s efforts on the mound.
In a complete-game performance, Baker allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits with four walks and nine strikeouts.
“He was spotting everything really well,” said Sherman. “He didn’t give up many hits — six hits — not many.”
Thomas McCloskey took the loss for the Bulldogs. He went four innings and gave up 10 base hits and one walk, leading to five runs, four of them earned. He also struck out three.
“We just had two many pitches up early,” said Stewart. “Thomas was up in the zone (Monday). Usually he’s down around the knees. He gets a lot of ground balls. He just had a lot of balls up, was missing spots. They capitalized on it.”
Smith calmed things down in relief, allowing one run on one hit with three walks and three strikeouts in three innings.
Hopkins worked a scoreless seventh with one hit, two walks and one K.
Leading the Bulldogs at the plate was Ted Williams who had a single, reached twice on errors and drove in a run with a sac fly.
Zach Darling walked and scored in the first, then singled and scored in the third.
Hopkins doubled and later scored on a balk. Duncan Brode also hit a double.
Zach Grill was 2-for-3.