BAY VILLAGE — It was supposed to be an incredible match up, a clash of the titans between two of the West Shore Conference’s elite teams on a gray and blustery day at Bay’s newly christened ball park Thursday. By the end it was more like a Chuck Wepner prize fight or a Buffalo Bills Super Bowl as the host Rockets pummeled, baffled and battered the Avon Eagles, 11-2.
The Rockets (10-4, 7-2) got their victory with a balanced and complete game in all phases and a fine pitching performance from senior Marty Schuerger.
“That was the first time we saw all four phases, pitching, defense, baserunning and hitting,” Bay coach Joe Cheney said. “But more importantly, we played for seven innings. We’ve shown flashes for three or four innings and get a 5-0 lead and then they come back for a pair here and two there and before you know it we’re 5-5 and it’s a struggle.”
For his part, Schuerger went six innings, scattering six hits and yielding Avon’s only two runs in a shaky third inning before settling down and allowing only three baserunners in his final three innings.
“I like working ahead and getting the hitters off balance. I’ve had some mistakes, but I can work around them,” Schuerger said.
“Marty’s been solid all year. He throws a heavy baseball, it has a lot of sink on it, it’s hard to elevate on him,” Cheney said of his pitcher. “On a cold day like this, Marty loved to pitch. He mixed it up and he kept Avon off balance and they’re a good hitting ballclub.”
In contrast, Avon coach Frank DeSmit’s starter was unbeaten freshman Logan Doenges, who served up Bay’s early lead with a four-walk first inning en route to giving up five runs in two innings.
“Well, we had a freshman start. He’s probably been one of our most consistent pitchers so far so we thought we’d put him out there and see if he could handle it,” DeSmit said. “The ump didn’t help him much and I think he got a little tight. They have good hitters there, they hit mistakes. And they cleared the bases a couple of times. So they got us.”
The Rockets did hit, but were also opportunistic, plating 11 runs on 10 hits. The most notable of which was Chris Francati’s crushed homer down the left-field line in the second, which took Bay out to a 5-0 lead and sealed Doenges’ fate.
“I was just trying to drive it,” Francati said. “I’ve kind of been in a slump lately, so it felt good to get a drive off the bat.”
Bay also enjoyed multihit days from Jake Crossan, Will Wilson and Dan Schwede. Bay’s offense was so balanced that its 10 RBIs were equally divided by five hitters. In addition to his two doubles and two runs, Crossan also worked a scoreless seventh inning of relief.
But it wasn’t anywhere close to fun and games for Avon (11-7, 7-4), who compounded its offensive woes with four errors and a pair of wild pitches and passed balls.
“A completely awful game. Obviously Bay was enjoying it with the way they were yucking it up,” DeSmit said. “Not much we can say. We came out and played one of our worst games of the year.”
Whether this game will be seen as a fulcrum on which a WSC title pivoted remains to be seen as the season unfolds, but it sure looked like two teams moving in opposite directions.
“The one thing that we’re excited about is the last three years we’ve been struggling and we really need a good year,” Francati said. “I mean last year we had six wins. The year before that, five, and the year before that, like seven. Now everyone is just loving it. Everyone’s all in and it’s just a really big team effort right now.”
“We’re a few games behind those guys is all I know,” DeSmit said. “We’re just gonna play and see what happens and figure it all out at the end.”
Contact Fred Steiner at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.