By Pete Chiodo
Facing a Class A team with just one win on the season, Meadville head baseball coach Bruce Stewart was hopeful that his Bulldogs would be able to handle Maplewood.
Still, “You never know going in,” he said. “It’s not like we were blowing the cover off the ball. We were scoring a couple runs a game. You never take anybody for granted, because you never know.”
Stewart and company went out and grabbed their first run-shortened victory of the season, defeating the Tigers 10-0 in six frames on Monday at Eldred Glen.
“Not bad,” said Stewart, whose team improved to 3-5 with the win. “We’ve still got some stuff to work on. We changed the lineup a little bit and that seemed to string it out and we seemed to be more cohesive. At least we got some hitters with runners in scoring position. That seemed to be the thing we’d been struggling at the last few games. So I think it worked, for the most part.”
The Bulldogs’ offense had seven base hits while both of the team’s pitchers were solid.
Thomas McCloskey worked the first three and had one base hit with three strikeouts. Freshman Dom Pruskowski finished the game off, allowing three hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
“All the pitchers threw well,” said Stewart. “Thomas threw well. Dom came in and pitched well.”
There were some positive signs for Maplewood (1-6) as well. It was actually a tight 3-0 game through the first three innings. Starter Joel Robinson allowed only three hits through the first three innings before Meadville opened the game up against the bullpen.
And, offensively, while Maplewood’s base hits were limited, the Tigers had numerous hard-hit knocks to the outfield.
“Overall, as far as the progression of our season is going, I can’t complain too much,” said Maplewood head coach Robert Finkbeiner. “Obviously, the score isn’t the way we’d like it. But this was one of our best games offensively. We had a lot of good at-bats, some decent hits. Pitching-wise it was nice. We had a couple bad walks. But I’m not disappointed. It’s progress.”
Meadville got on the scoreboard with three runs in the first inning. Zach Darling led it off with a walk. Trevor Smith was hit by a pitch. And Ted Williams laid down a beautiful bunt for a single to load the bases.
Duncan Brode brought Darling home with a sacrifice fly to center. Then with two outs, the Tigers’ defense dropped a fly ball by Zach Grill, allowing two more runs to score.
It would stay that way until the fourth. Maplewood had a handful of runners in scoring position in the interim, but Meadville’s defense did a nice job of stranding them there.
“We’ve been playing good defense all year,” said Stewart. “We had a couple miscues, but it didn’t hurt us. We were able to work our way out of it and battle through.”
The Bulldogs broke the game open with five runs in the fourth. McCloskey led it off with a single. A pair of walks loaded the bases. And then Williams drove all three runners in with a triple deep into the gap in right-center.
Williams later came around to score on a Tigers error. And Matt Keenan, who was running for Brode who reached base on balls, scored on a sacrifice fly by Hopkins.
Hopkins’ shot was over the fence in left field, but it was pulled back in on a nice catch by Robinson, who went to the outfield after his stint on the mound.
Meadville finished it off in the sixth. Williams drew a lead-off walk and later scored on a wild pitch. Tyler Price reached on an error and, with two outs, scored on a single to right by Pruskowski.
Williams had a productive day at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a triple, two walks, three runs scored and three RBIs. Pruskowski was 2-for-4.
Offensively for Maplewood, Josh Kohnen hit a double. Robinson, Carl Douglas and Dalton Fosburg each had a single.