ELYRIA — It would be easy for the pitching performance of East’s Christian Stanziano to get lost in the shuffle of a 12-1 mercy-rule victory over crosstown rival West in a Little League Senior (ages 14-15) district final at Vic Janowicz Park on Saturday.
After all, it was the second straight double-digit decision for East, now headed to the state tournament at Berlin Hiland on July 21. It had sent West to the losers bracket with a 10-0 win earlier.
However, on closer inspection, Stanziano was pretty darn good on the mound on a hot, humid night, limiting West to just three hits and one unearned run.
He struck out seven, walked four and worked out of a couple of early jams that prevented West from inflicting any early damage.
Through the first four innings, West got its leadoff hitter aboard but managed to score just once, and that came after East had already built a pretty safe 10-0 lead through three innings.
Stanziano never lost his focus and kept the ball low in the strike zone. West had just one fly-ball out the whole game.
“I felt good,” he said. “It was really hot. I was trying to get them to ground out, couple punchouts — just not let them score. I was just trying to put the game away, get out of this heat and get home and relax.”
“He was in control all day,” East manager Jeff Saxton said. “He kept his emotions on the mound. He did not let (a couple early errors) get to him. He stuck to his game plan and kept the ball really low. He’s a good low-ball pitcher.”
Not only did Stanziano do well on the mound, he drove in three runs. His sacrifice fly brought home the game’s first run in the first inning and he added a two-run double in the top of the fourth to secure the mercy-rule margin.
East took advantage of seven West errors and kept the heat on with aggressive baserunning all evening. East stole eight bases, led by Josh Cathey with three and Jagar Shaffstall and Nick Saxton with two each.
“Part of our game plan is always aggressive running,” said the elder Saxton, a veteran of more than two decades of coaching. “We made some baserunning mistakes the first game that we didn’t capitalize on. We corrected those things. We ran the bases well and put pressure on them all day.”
“(East) has a tough team,” West coach Greg Raycher said. “Some of our kids – this is their first year in All-Stars with the 90-foot bases and getting the jitters out. Our kids were used to seeing high-ball pitching all year, but coming into this time of year you have to be ready for good, solid pitching.”
Shaffstall and Gregor each had two hits for East. Shaffstall, Saxton and Cathey had RBIs. Alec Raycher, Dale Harris and Alex Schuster had the only hits for West.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at (440) 329-7135 or email@example.com.