After numerous attempts to get the year rolling, the Falcons finally were able to feel the infield dirt under their spikes when they traveled to Massillon on April 7 to play Jackson. The fact that Fitch fell to one of the Federal League favorites 5-3 was irrelevant. Just getting on the diamond after nearly 10 days of waiting out the inclement weather was victory enough for head coach Wally Ford’s brood.
Fitch and Jackson each scored two runs in the first inning of the season, then after falling behind 3-2, the Falcons retied the game in the top of the third. A two-run rally by the home team in the bottom of the sixth sent the Falcons home with their first league loss. Junior Logan Kane collected a pair of doubles and a pair of RBIs to pace the Fitch offense. Senior Ron DeAmicis added two hits. Sophomore Kevin Sierra scored two runs. Starting pitcher John Michael Valentine took the loss although he struck out five and did not walk a batter over six innings of work. That sweetheart of a performance by Valentine eased some of the uneasy feelings coach Ford had about his inexperienced pitching staff.
“(Valentine) pitched a nice game,” said the coach recently. “He threw a complete game in his first start (of the season). (Jackson) has a very good lineup.”
A few days later, Ford was able to showcase his own lineup. With the weather turning awesome over the weekend, the Falcons took advantage and played a doubleheader at home versus Columbiana. The only thing hotter than the upper 70s temperature was the two team’s offenses as the Falcons and Clippers combined to score 38 runs. Unfortunately for Fitch, most of those runs were claimed by Columbiana as the two schools split the twinbill. Fitch won the first game, 6-3 and lost the nightcap, 20-9. Still, Fitch’s hitters came to the doubleheader holding lethal bats.
“We are hitting the ball really well,” Ford announced. “We even had 14 hits in the loss (to Columbiana). We are putting our bats on the ball.”
In game one, Fitch senior Jake Eynon energized the home team with a double, a single and two RBIs. Senior starting pitcher Sean Mancino made out nicely in his first assignment of the season striking out eight to pick up the win.
“Mancino pitched well,” said Ford. “He earned that win.”
Game two may have been dominated by the Clippers, but it saw the youth of the Falcons shine through. Freshman Zack Miller, who got a hit in his first varsity action in Massillon, gave a glimpse into Fitch’s near future with three hits and two runs scored in game two. Pitcher Scott Pierce threw well in relief. Fellow freshmen Mike Bobonick and Shane Vitullo also got their spikes dirty as members of the varsity over the weekend.
“These freshmen did well,” Ford bragged. “They will see a lot of varsity time.”
The Falcons as a team will also see a lot of time on the field as their schedule really starts to kick in. A couple of conference home-in-home battles with Massillon Perry and North Canton Hoover hang in the balance on Fitch’s upcoming slate. Road games at Warren Harding and Canfield will help Ford’s kids prepare for those four Federal contests as will another double-dip this Saturday versus Warren JFK.
Photos special to the Town Crier
Fitch senior Jake Eynon gets a lead off first base in Sunday’s double header against Columbiana.