August 20, 2014

Elyria
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Sectional baseball: Poskocil worth his wait in gold for Pioneers

ELYRIA – Good things come to those who wait, so the saying goes.
And sometimes, those who wait make good things happen.
“It was a long wait since my last outing,” said Dan Poskocil after he pitched Elyria to a 6-2 victory over Avon Lake in a Division I sectional championship game Friday. “I was eager to pitch. I was pumped up from the beginning.”
Poskocil`s previous pitching assignment was on May 5. It did not go well. He gave up seven runs and nine hits in three innings in a 10-1 loss to Strongsville.
It was so much different on Friday. Poskocil allowed eight hits, all singles, and walked only one – a meaningless free pass with two out in the seventh inning.
“He`s the man,” Elyria coach Steve Sunagel said. “He has proven it for 21/2 years. He`s the one we want with the ball in these games.
“Avon Lake is a great hitting team, but Danny got better as the game went on.”
Poskocil retired nine of the last 10 batters and didn`t allow a hit to any of them.
Now Poskocil and his teammates get another chance at Strongsville, a team that has defeated the Pioneers twice in 2009. Elyria (13-12) will play the Mustangs at Strongsville on Thursday afternoon at 4 o`clock in a district semifinal. Strongsville is ranked No. 1 in Ohio.
“We owe those guys big-time,” said Elyria senior Nolan Neuschaefer, who had two hits and scored twice. “We`re looking forward to playing them.”
Avon Lake leaves the tournament with a 12-10 record.
“We`ve hit the ball well off good pitchers all year,” Avon Lake coach Jeff Stratton said. “The credit goes to him (Poskocil). He mixed it up well and threw off-speed a lot. It wasn`t the fault of the guys at bat. It was all him.”
It was a good bit of slick fielding, too. Two double plays bailed the Pioneers out of trouble – in the third and fifth innings. The Shoremen had Tyler Beck on second with one out in the third. Kevin Morissette hit a sharp line drive to second that Justin Murray speared and relayed to shortstop Jon Koepf to double up the runner.
Jacob Neuschaefer started an equally impressive twin killing in the fifth after Avon Lake scored a run to make it a 6-2 game. Neuschaefer, the right fielder, grabbed a line drive off the bat of T.J. Thompson and fired to first to catch Tyler Jeske straying too far from the bag.
“The defense was great,” Sunagel said. “When we play without errors we can match up. That`s true with any team, but if we play good defense, we`re there.”
The Shoremen also turned two double plays. The first got them and pitcher Ben O`Connor out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the opening inning. The second came an inning later.
But two Avon Lake errors in the fourth inning let Elyria break a 1-1 tie and earn two runs. Jacob Neuschaefer scored from second when Seth Harshberger`s groundball was misplayed. Harshberger was driven in by a two-out single by Nick Toney.
Elyria took a 1-0 lead in the first when Nolan Neuschaefer and Koepf singled and Jacob Neuschaefer and Harshberger walked. The Shoremen tied it in the fourth on three straight hits by Joe Latsko, Nick Brill and Jeske.
Jamie Kauffman and Beck singled to start Avon Lake`s fifth. Ryan Kirkpatrick moved them up with a bunt and Morissette scored Kauffman with a sacrifice fly to center.
The Pioneers scored their final runs in the sixth. Deke Monk doubled in pinch runner Brandon McDonald and scored on a high throw to the plate.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.