A third loss in five days was not the worst thing that happened to the Fitch baseball team on Monday.
Prior to Fitch’s game at Uniontown Lake, the Ohio High School Athletic Association ruled that the varsity and junior varsity teams must forfeit the games played by brothers Kevin and Alex Sierra this season. According to the OHSAA, the two boys from Puerto Rico are ineligible to play high school sports in this state due to residency restrictions. Both of the Sierra’s parents still live in Puerto Rico as the brothers came to Austintown to live with relatives. One of the relatives the Sierra kids live with is their grandmother and until she receives legal custody of the two boys they will remain ineligible. The only problem with that scenario, however, is that Kevin and Alex already attend classes at Fitch meaning that the OHSAA may rule that the transfer of custody to the grandmother is only being done for athletic reasons. It is uncertain when or if the Sierra brothers will regain any eligibility, but the Fitch baseball program can continue its season without any other penalties.
Of course, just playing out the remaining schedule may be penalty enough for these upstart Falcons. Fitch was foiled twice by Lake in its attempt to pick up some wins in the Federal League. The Blue Streaks stymied the Falcons on Monday 5-1, which wasn’t too bad considering the local kids were coming off a 22-3 drubbing by Lake on May 5.
Fitch not only fell in the conference, but it was squeezed out of a nonconference win against Niles on May 7. Actually, the Falcons were suicide squeezed. With the score tied at six in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Red Dragons excellently executed a suicide squeeze bunt that pushed home the winning run in a 7-6 extra inning win. Hurting the Falcons was the fact that their hurlers allowed 11 walks to the Red Dragons. Jake Eynon did all he could offensively to bail out his pitching teammates with a double, a single, three RBIs and two runs. Ron DeAmicis also had a pair of hits and a pair of ribbies.
That close loss by the Falcons added to the misery this rebuilding squad has endured this entire season.
All of the heartbreak heaped upon the young Falcons so far would be erased if they started fresh in the Division I state tournament that began this week. Fitch had a grand opportunity to at least win one game when it played underdog Chaney on May 10. The downtrodden Cowboys are a good match for the Falcons in the opening round at Cene Park because they are even more inexperienced than Fitch is. Should the Falcons feast on the Cowboys as expected, they will shoot into the second round against Howland on May 11. The Tigers earned their bye because they are on top of the All American Red Tier and play with the confidence these green Falcons aspire to obtain.
Regardless of what happens in the tournament, Fitch still needs to complete its regular season slate and its final few Federal League games. That Federal League line up starts with a game at Boardman on May 12. The rival Spartans visit Fitch the following day then a home in home series with Canton McKinley is set for next Tuesday and Thursday.