Joey Begany slammed three hits — including a pair of doubles — with two RBIs, while Angelo Cruz, Dominic Piazza and Noah Bland each had two hits in the 9-5 victory played under a hot sun with a stiff wind blowing out.
Elyria Catholic (11-13) advances to the district tournament next Tuesday at Parma’s Tri-C diamond to face either state-ranked Independence or Trinity.
“We were sharp at the plate,” Elyria Catholic coach Bruce Lisicky said. “The warm weather helped us. We haven’t had any games in the 80s before. We’ve been hitting the ball well all season but today they were really beginning to fall. I told the kids in the fifth when it was still a tight game (tied at 3) they shouldn’t be satisfied with just three runs and that the balls are going to stop dropping.”
They Panthers listened to their coach, scoring three runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to take a big lead before Black River (10-16) staged a late rally with two in the seventh. The Pirates scored two runs before a pop-up ended the game with the bases loaded.
Elyria Catholic pitcher Chris Tomshack was sharp early as he struck out six of the first nine batters and finished with 10 strikeouts before being relieved in the final two innings by Begany.
“Chris was really cruising along but he started getting tired as his pitch count went up, so I changed pitchers after five,” Lisicky said.
The game’s only downside for Elyria Catholic was when designated hitter Piazza dislocated his shoulder sliding into home plate in the fifth.
“But I think he’ll be back ready to play by Tuesday,” Lisicky said.
Begany was comfortable at the plate in getting his three hits and five total bases.
“I was looking for fastballs and able to make contact,” he said.
He was not as sharp, though, on the mound in his two innings, giving up two runs, two hits and two walks.
“My fastball wasn’t really moving,” he said. “But I was never worried because of our big lead and faith in my teammates’ defense.”
Bland lived up to what he was looking for at the plate.
“I was looking for a first pitch fastball and tried to keep it in play,” he said. “It was one of my best games of the year.”
In three of his at-bats, he swung at the first pitch, getting a double, single and fly out to deep center field. He walked in his other trip to the plate without swinging.
“We made some mistakes early that put us in a hole, but we battled back,” Black River coach Dozier Hendershot said. “These kids never quit.”
Black River has two make-up games left on the schedule, while Elyria Catholic will play Vermilion and Wellington on Friday and Saturday to wrap up its regular season.
Contact Jerry Rombach at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.