Meadville Tribune

Sports

April 10, 2014

Spa defense keys win over ’Wood

CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS — “Those were the first double plays in a live game in four years, they told me,” said Cambridge Springs’ first-year head coach Brad Wheeler.

We ask, really?

“Tapper,” said Wheeler, calling to third baseman Juston Tapper in the dugout. “Was that the first double play you’ve ever been a part of at the varsity level?”

Tapper answered that it was.

“And you’re a junior,” said Wheeler. “Your freshman or sophomore year, you never had a double play?”

Tapper shakes his head, no.

“And we had two in one game?” Wheeler asks, knowing full well what the answer is.

Tapper nods, yes.

Wheeler smiles. “Yeah,” he says.

The Cambridge Springs defense stole the show during Thursday’s Region 3 showdown with Maplewood, turning two inning-ending DPs and making just one error in the field while defeating the Tigers 5-1.

“Just like Maplewood, we’re in the same boat,” said Wheeler, whose team improved to 1-3 overall and 1-1 in Region 3 with the win. “This is our fourth time on the field and this is our fourth game. We haven’t even practiced on our field yet. So we’re gym rats right now. And it’s just nice to be out playing.

“Turning (double plays) in the gym is a little different than turning it out here,” he added.

In the fourth inning, Cambridge Springs had a 3-0 lead, but Maplewood (0-3, 0-1 Region 3) was threatening. Kyle Weldon led off the frame with a base hit. Kyle Nuhfer drew a walk. And Dalton Fosburg hit a single to left to score Fosburg and put the tying runs on base with just one down.

But Noah Marvin, who had a good game offensively, going 2-for-3 with a double and a walk — hit a grounder to shortstop Hunter Cox. Cox lobbed it to second baseman Jake Kuhn for the out at second. Kuhn relayed it to first baseman Colton Cox in time to get Marvin, putting an end to the Tigers’ rally.

Then in the seventh inning, Cambridge now led 5-1. But Maplewood was once again mounting a comeback. Fosburg and Marvin drew back-to-back walks to lead off the frame. But the Spa’s closing pitcher, Gavin Hohn, earned the first out of the frame with a strikeout.

He then delivered to Tyler Mattocks. Mattocks hit it to Hunter Cox at short — 6 ... 4 ... 3. Game over.

“Totally awesome,” said Hohn. “The defense did great. It’s good to have confidence in them when you’re pitching.”

Along with earning the save on the mound with three scoreless innings of work, Hohn, the Blue Devils’ lead-off batter, also had a terrific day at the plate. He reached base in all four at-bats, swatting three singles and hitting into an error. He also scored twice.

Hohn led off the first inning with a knock, and later came around to score on a single to shallow right by Colton Cox. Cox later scored on a Maplewood error. And, still in the first, Steele Henderson reached on a fielder’s choice and later scored on a wild pitch to give the Devils’ that early 3-0 lead.

Cambridge tacked on two more runs in the fourth inning. The Blue Devils had four singles in the frame. Tapper, Hohn, Kuhn and Hunter Cox had the hits. Kuhn’s drove in Nick Peters, who reached on a fielder’s choice. Cox’s hit scored Hohn.

Earning the win on the mound for Cambridge was Kyle Alward. He pitched the first four, allowed one run on six hits and walked three.

“They worked hard on the pitching in the gym, I’ve got to give them that,” said Wheeler. “It’s a great turnaround from the first three games.”

The loss went to Fosburg. He allowed five runs — only two earned — on seven hits while walking one and striking out four during four innings of work. Nuhfer pitched two strong innings in relief, allowing just one hit while fanning four.

The Tigers pitchers just couldn’t get the run support they needed. The Tigers had seven hits. Marvin had his single and double. Weldon hit a pair of singles and walked in three appearances. Clutch at-bats, though, were hard to come by as the Tigers stranded nine base runners.

“Pitching went very well,” said Maplewood head coach Robert Finkbeiner. “It was an improvement from (Wednesday) against Saegertown, obviously. So, that’s a plus. Defense, we had a few miscues. But it was really about the offense. We could not get a timely hit. We had guys on base. That’s going to hurt you.”

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