December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Little League baseball: Avon opens with big win

AVON — Avon showed why it is the two-time defending Little League Majors District 3 champion, using patience at the plate, aggression on the bases and power arms on the mound Monday in a 16-1 win over Elyria North at Veterans Park.
Avon scored three in the top of the first before blowing the game open with five in the second, four in the third and four in the fourth to end the game early via the 15-run mercy rule.
“Every year we’ve done it with excellent pitching and being aggressive on the base paths,” Avon coach Kevin McNamara said. “Anyone that is going to play us knows that. That’s what we are … kids that are going to be athletic and we’re going to be fundamentally sound. You saw that tonight.”
Avon had just five hits, but four of them were for extra bases. Aiden Dietz, Jack Roesch and Ben Yanoska each doubled while Jackson Myers slashed a two-run triple off the base of the fence in left-center.
“Our approach at the plate is if the pitcher is going to throw strikes, we’re going to put the bat on the ball and hit to win,” McNamara said. “We can’t be aggressive on the basepaths if we don’t get on base. We want to make the defense field the ball. Standing up there looking at pitches and striking out, that’s not what we’re all about.
“We very rarely put on a take sign and our philosophy is aggression. When I coach third base I tell my hitters to think aggressively, to get after the ball before it gets to the plate and put it in play. That’s what every kid on this team has had to do.
“Every team they come from in the city, when they come here we have to change their philosophy because when you play teams like we’re going to face in Tallmadge on Wednesday you have to be aggressive all the time.”
All game Avon put the pressure on the Elyria defense by taking the extra base and forcing them to make the right play in the field. Avon scored four runs on double-steals or errant throws.
Elyria was able to push its lone run across in the third. With two out Garrick Smalley walked. He went to second on a throwing error by Avon catcher Mark Steinmetz, then sprinted around third and home when Myers overran the ball in center.
That was the lone bright spot for the Elyria offense. Nine of its 12 outs came via strikeout as Avon pitching dominated.
“We played them last year in Minor-A, and we got goose-egged, 20-0,” Elyria coach Matt Carpenter said. “To come out and have it be kind of a game after the first inning, down just three runs, I was proud of my guys. They can throw pitcher after pitcher out there that can pop the glove at 65-70 miles per hour…my kids aren’t used to seeing that.”
Avon will now face its biggest challenge of the year Wednesday.
“Wednesday we head to Tallmadge, and they’re the top team,” McNamara said. “We feel that they are the team that we’ve got to beat, and for us to do that we have to hit the ball better and be a little smarter on the bases.”
Despite the loss, Carpenter said his team enjoyed its trip to Avon.
“They were happy to get that run up on the board and hopefully we can learn from this and get better,” he said. “We knew it was going to be rough. Avon is stacked and they have a lot of kids out here to choose from. They play a lot of travel ball. But everyone here at Avon is real nice and we love coming back here every year.
“Our kids never quit and Avon had great sportsmanship. They are good and they know they’re good, but they didn’t really let it show too much and didn’t show us up. That says a lot about them.”