By Pete Chiodo
May 2, 2013 7:00 a.m. LINESVILLE —
Another day, another comeback for the Conneaut baseball team.
For the third time in four victories this season the Eagles found themselves mired in a deep hole early in a ball game only to somehow climb out of it.
This time around, Conneaut trailed Region 6 opponent Slippery Rock 6-1 after four and a half frames.
The Eagles then rallied for 11 runs over the fifth and the sixth innings en route to a 12-7 victory.
“At some point we have to start playing better at the beginning of the game,” said Conneaut head coach Todd Greenawalt. “We’ve been in every game that we’ve lost this year, but we haven’t always been able to come back. Our kids are fighting, and I love how they compete. It’s just taking them a few innings to start digging in.”
The win improves Conneaut’s record to 4-7 on the year and 2-4 in the region. Slippery Rock, which entered the game in second place in Region 6, slipped to 5-5 overall and 3-3 in the region.
“Some days we seem to not start so well,” said Conneaut junior Cole Baker. “Then we figured out that, hey, we’ve got to win these region games to have a chance at the playoffs. We needed a kick in the butt to get going.”
Conneaut got the jolt it was looking for in the fifth inning when Baker, Chase Gallo and Brandon Sherman led it off with three consecutive singles, finally getting somewhere against Slippery Rock starter Cody Stephenson.
Up until that point, Stephenson had allowed only three base hits through four innings, and one unearned run on two errors in the third.
Stephenson had also led the Rockets to a 6-2 victory over Conneaut the last time these two teams met.
“We seem to not be able to hit (Stephenson) for some reason,” said Baker.
All that changed in the fifth. Sherman’s hit through the left side of the infield scored Baker. Then with two outs, Joe Durovey reached on an infield error, allowing two more runs to score, cutting Slippery Rock’s lead to 6-4.
The Rockets added one more run in the top of the sixth to make it 7-4. Travis Lausher drove the run in with a single, his second of the game. He was 2-for-2 with an RBI, two walks and three runs scored out of the lead-off spot.
For the bottom of the sixth, Slippery Rock replaced Stephenson with Joe Barnhart. The Eagles jumped all over him.
Luke Graham led it off with a double down the left field line. Baker followed that up with an RBI double to left. Gallo singled to right center. And Sherman knocked a single to center to bring Baker home.
The Rockets quickly removed Barnhart and put in Mitch Robinson.
Conneaut’s back-up outfielder Chris Norris welcomed Robinson to the mound by smacking his first offering into right field, scoring Gallo to tie the game at 7-7.
Jordan King later launched a double to deep center field to bring in two more runs, which put Conneaut on top 9-7.
Graham got back to the plate wth two outs and knocked a two-run single to the right center gap, making it 11-7.
And Baker got back up and had his second RBI hit of the inning with a single, plating King for the final run of the game.
“When you get a couple guys that square balls up, it seems to be contagious,” said Greenawalt. “At some points in games this year we haven’t been able to square balls up and we keep going down and down . (On Wednesday), we had some guys square up the ball and we scored 11 runs in two innings.”
Baker then took the mound in the seventh and allowed two singles, but neither runner would score, giving him the win in relief. He pitched the final three innings, allowing two runs on six hits with two strikeouts.
He also led the team at the plate, going 4-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and three ribbies.
King started and pitched the first four innings. He allowed five runs (four earned) on four hits with three walks and two Ks.
Gallo, Sherman and Graham all had two-hit games for the Eagles.