December 18, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
29°F
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H.S. Baseball: Avon plays clean game, takes advantage of sloppy inning by Elyria

Avon Elyria 4

Avon’s Ian Long beats the throw to steal second base past Elyria’s Ben Haywood. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

AVON — It wasn’t anything spectacular, but the Eagles will take it.

Avon took advantage of four Elyria miscues in the fourth inning to open the season with a 3-0 non-conference win over the Pioneers at All Pro Freight Stadium on Monday afternoon.

Elyria’s Jaeger Shaffstall, who was making his debut at third base, made two throwing errors, one to start the fourth inning, and the Pioneers’ Ben Haywood and Marques Inman added two others that led to a pair of runs for Avon.

“I knew it was coming, we’ve only been outside three times,” Elyria coach Eddie Piazza said. “They played hesitant not to make a mistake. Once they get over that, I think we’ll be OK. We kind of got like afraid of the ball, afraid of contact and afraid of making mistakes.

“All the stuff you do in the gym doesn’t compare to out here. That’s the biggest thing.”

Ian Long provided the only RBI of the game as he then sent a single down the third base line to score Jonny Morales, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, to make it 3-0. His hit was the only one in the inning.

“I saw a guy on second, I knew I had to score him,” Long said. “We were only up 2-0, it wasn’t big enough for us. I knew we needed more runs if we wanted to carry out the win.

“At first I tried to hit it to the right side of the field, but he threw an inside pitch and I turned on it, got it down the third base line and it stayed fair.”

Avon’s pitching was superb, along with its flawless defense, which didn’t have an error and included a pair of double plays.

Starting pitcher Alex Tomko allowed just four hits in five innings. Jake Sopko gave up hits to Haywood and Conley but was able to get out of it with an inning-ending double play, before Morales picked up the save, sending Elyria down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh.

“This is the blueprint of how we’re going to have to play this year — good, solid pitching, play clean defense and scratch a few runs out,” Avon coach Frank DeSmit said. “Tomko picked up pretty much exactly what he did last year. He’s very good at locating and he mixes his speeds up. He’s not going to come in and blow people away, but he’s very precise. He’s smart and knows what he’s doing out there. He pitched well.”

Elyria starter Brad Conley also was strong. Other than the nightmare fourth, he allowed just four singles in four innings. All three runs were unearned.

Matt McFrederick and Justin Victor pitched a scoreless inning each. Victor struck out two of the three batters he faced.

Avon will have to play its next three games without seven of its seniors because of a class trip to Washington, D.C. The stretch starts Wednesday as the Eagles host St. Vincent-St. Mary before hosting St. Ed’s on Thursday and Olmsted Falls on Saturday.

Contact Steve Walker at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.