SAEGERTOWN — The uniforms were a bit different and there were a few new teammates in the lineup, but Zach Wilson looked like Zach Wilson while leading the Meadville Italian Civic Club to a 13-0 six-inning win over French Creek Valley during Crawford-Venango American Legion baseball action at Ed Acker Field on Tuesday.
“My guys were engaged,” said ICC manager John Mottillo. “They came to play. It’s a rivalry and it is important to them. Our goal is to come out and play hard baseball every time out.”
It started with Wilson.
The right-hander went through his normal M.O. — start off slow before switching into dominant mode. And that slow start didn’t even hurt much. He walked Peyton Hearn with two outs in the first, but forced a grounder to end the inning. Wilson then walked the first two batters in the second before escaping unscathed thanks to a pair of strikeouts. And in the third, he gave up FCV’s only hit of the game, a single by Hearn. From there, Wilson allowed just one more baserunner, and that came on a fifth-inning error.
“I think (the second inning) got me going,” said Wilson. “I was throwing a lot of balls and walked the first two batters and I heard (FCV) talking. I managed to strike out the next two and get out of it on a ground ball. That is when I got zoned in.”
Wilson wasn’t done there.
He also excelled with a piece of lumber in his hands. His RBI single in the first gave him a 3-0 lead. Wilson walked in the second and added another single in the fifth. His courtesy runner, Tyler Blood, scored both times. And in the sixth, Wilson plated the mercy-rule runs with a two-run double that made it 11-0. For the game, he went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and a run. On the mound he pitched all six innings, allowing a hit and three walks while striking out four.
“Everyone loves getting hits,” said Wilson. “We have been working on our approach at the plate. And I am seeing the ball real well right now.”
Some of the credit for yesterday’s win can go to those aforementioned ‘new’ players. The ICC features several standouts from Cochranton and Maplewood. Ty Barzak played an outstanding center field and set the offensive tone early when he looped a ball into right field and it was misplayed for a two-base error. As Barzak sprinted to second, FCV tried to make a play but the ball went over second base and Barzak wound up on third. He scored on another error to make it 1-0.
Another key acquisition is catcher Noah Ross.
Dynamite with that catching gear on, Ross also sports a solid stick. He went 2-for-4 with a double, two runs and an RBI in the win. But his biggest contribution may be allowing Mottillo to keep Nick Frantz to shortstop. And if you ask Wilson, he’d agree.
“Nick is a great shortstop,” said Wilson. “Having Noah at catcher and Nick at short ... that makes us even better than we were going to be. I am glad to have him back there.”
Frantz had people in awe with his globe Saturday. The first flash came in the third after Hearn’s single. Peyton Crays hit a seeing-eye ball past the pitcher and to the first-base side of second. As the ICC faithful moaned about the sure single, Frantz ranged over, snared the ball and fired to first for the out to end the inning.
Then in the sixth, FCV was looking to get something going and extend the game. Pinch hitter Jonathan Woge hit an almost identical seeing-eye ball, maybe a bit slower and more to the first base side. Again the ICC faithful was ready to mark up the hit, and again Frantz came out of nowhere to make the stop and fire a bullet to first for the out. To sum up the plays in one word — spectacular!
“I like to follow the ball right off the bat,” said Frantz. “And I think I have a pretty good jump on the ball. And having caught, I think I have a good way of reading the ball. That is really it, just good reads.”
While neither play saved a run, they did keep FCV from starting any real rally.
Meadville scored early and often to take a 7-0 lead. Besides the three in the first, ICC added four in the second. The big hit was a two-run single by Wyett Smith. Meadville then scored a pair in the fifth thanks to an Alex McKay RBI single and a pair of errors to allow Smith to come around. The sixth saw Wilson’s two-run single. A throwing error on the same play scored a third run, and Wilson scored the final run on FCV’s sixth error of the game.
Nick Rinella was hit all four times he stepped in the batters box and scored three times. Wyett Smith was 2-for-2 with a run and two RBIs. Barzak scored twice in the win.
“Just an all around great effort,” said Mottillo. “And that goes for my coaching staff. Trevor Smith, Andrew Mook and Bill Ferguson are outstanding.”