By Jim Hunter
Special to The Meadville Tribune
The Creekers have their rematch.
Seething to get another shot at Franklin after losing one game on a balk and forfeiting two contests during the regular season, French Creek Valley will get its chance for redemption as the Creekers advanced to the winner’s bracket final in the Crawford/Venango American Legion playoffs with a 5-2 win over Oil City on Friday night at Ed Acker Field.
FCV and Franklin — which knocked off Cochranton 11-2 — will lock horns in the winner’s bracket final today at 12:30 p.m. at Franklin.
Creekers manager Brandon Crum & Co. have been waiting for this revenge opportunity for some time.
“We had some committment issues in those losses and now we’re all in ... we are looking forward to playing them again,” said Crum.
Against Oil City, FCV rode Jacob Digiacomo’s right arm and two- and three-run scoring outbursts in the first and third innings, respectively.
Digiacomo pitched six shutout innings before yielding two unearned runs in the seventh inning. He scattered eight hits while striking out nine and walking two.
Crum was impressed with Digiacomo’s outing.
“Jake pitched real well,” he said. “He is a competitor. I think he got a little tired in the seventh. When I went out to talk to him in the seventh, I wanted to give him a breather and I think it helped.”
When Crum took his stroll to the mound, Oil City had the potential tying run at the plate. Crum’s words of wisdom worked as Digiacomo etired clean-up batter Tony Chmeil on a groundout for the final out.
The calm, cool and collected Digiacomo also got himself out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the fourth. He retired the next three Oil City batters on two consecutive strikeouts and a groundout.
FCV’s bats came out smokin’.
After Cole Baker reached on an error, Mitchell Wood ignited the Creekers’ two-run first inning with a hit-and-run single to right field. Then after Ryan Paden plated Baker with a sacrifice fly, Luke Carter drove in Wood with a single to center field — another hit-and-run knock.
“I was really impressed with the execution of the hit-and-run,” said Crum.
In FCV’s three-run third, Carter led off with a single but was forced at second on Drew Durasa’s grounder. After consecutive walks to Brandon Sherman and Trey Reagle, Damian Granda stroked a run-scoring single to left field and Scott Sada followed with a two-run single to right field.
The Creekers’ bats then went quiet — collecting only one hit the rest of the game, a single by Sherman in the fifth.
Crum was baffled in the third base coach’s box.
“I don’t want to say we got complacent, but our bats were definitely not as good in the latter innings,” he said. “I asked the players the same question: What happened? I think we were trying to do too much.”
Carter was FCV’s lone multiple-hit performer as he went 2-for-3.
When asked who will get the ball for tonight’s showdown against Franklin, Crum smiled and said, “I don’t know yet. It will be either (Scott) Sada or Carter.”