By Pete Chiodo
April 7, 2013 7:00 a.m. LINESVILLE —
One of the beautiful things about baseball is that as long as there is an out remaining, as long as there is a strike remaining, there is still a chance to make something happen.
That was the principle that the Conneaut baseball team cashed in on during its 5-4 victory over Cochranton on Saturday.
“That win shows that they weren’t giving up, living it one pitch at a time, and still fighting until the very last out,” said Conneaut head coach Todd Greenawalt.
The Eagles trailed by a run in the bottom of the seventh. Jeremy Santarelli gave his team a little hope when he led off the frame with a double to left field.
However, Cochranton pitcher A.J. Nageotte got the next two batters out with a strikeout and a pop-up.
Brandon Sherman drew a walk to keep Conneaut alive. Then Jon Onderko was facing a full count when he poked a single up the middle to drive in the game-tying run.
“I was just looking for a ball in the zone that I could take for a ride,” said Onderko. “It got through.”
Then Nageotte had Jake Andrew in the hole, 0-2. But Andrew got a hold of a curve ball and launched it to the fence in left-center to bring around Sherman and win the game for the Eagles.
The win improves Conneaut’s record to 2-1 on the season.
Cochranton is now 1-1 after playing a pair of Class AAA opponents.
“It was a great game,” said Cochranton head coach John Svirbly. “We have nothing to be ashamed of. Error-free baseball. We struggled a little bit at the plate. But those were two good teams playing each other. I didn’t know what to expect with the merger (of Conneaut Lake, Conneaut Valley and Linesville high schools) and having the talent from three schools. But it was a really good game.”
One of the key figures for Conneaut was pitcher Jordan King. Through seven innings, King allowed three earned runs on six hits while walking three batters and striking out 10.
“I think (King) did a real good job,” said Andrew. “He battled the whole time.”
King also got some support from the offense, which responded each and every time Cochranton put up a run.
First, Cochranton took a 2-0 lead in the first thanks to a two-run single by Caleb Peterson.
Conneaut quickly got those two back. Cole Baker led off the first with a double then scored on the first of three hits by Onderko. Then in the second, Luke Graham hit a double to left and later scored on a fielder’s choice by Baker to tie the game.
Cochranton then took a 3-2 lead in the third when Jesse Staudt cranked out a solo bomb over the fence just left of center field.
However, Conneaut tied it up again in the bottom half of the third. Chase Gallo hit a two-out single up the middle. Then King brought him in with a double up the third base line.
Cochranton took a 4-3 advantage in the sixth as Peterson led it off with a single and later scored on an Eagles error — the only error committed by either team yesterday.
That lead would not last, though.
Conneaut ended the game with a dozen base hits. Onderko had three. King had two, including a double. Santarelli had two, including a double. Baker and Graham also hit doubles. And Andrew was 2-for-4 with the walk-off.
“We struggled (on Friday in a 9-2 loss to Girard),” said Greenawalt. “We just didn’t have a real good approach at the plate. And it showed. ... It was nice to come out and play again (on Saturday) and swing the bats the way we did. Overall the quality of our at-bats were a lot better. And that’s what we need to keep doing to keep scoring runs.”
Nageotte took the loss for Cochranton, giving up five earned runs on 12 hits and two walks. He also fanned a pair.
“I probably could have taken A.J. out, but he was pitching so well,” said Svirbly. “His pitch count was low. He wanted it. And I was going to give it to him. He wanted to win that game. And he did a great job. I’m proud of him.”
At the plate, the Cardinals were led by Staudt who had the home run and a double in the fifth.
“We just need to get more consistent at the plate,” said Svirbly. “If we’re more consistent at the plate, we win this game. We started off good at the beginning and then fell off. We need to get more consistent.”