An impressive 9-3 blasting of Boardman on April 28 enabled the Fitch baseball team to split four games last week.
Thanks to that break-even stretch, the Falcons have stayed above .500 for the season at 11-8 and are looking to get hotter over their final few regular season games before starting the state tournament.
"We play six games in six days this week," said Fitch head coach Wally Ford on Sunday night, Aril 29. "We play Canfield twice, Struthers, Mooney and a doubleheader with Columbiana. That's good because it will get us ready (for the tournament)."
One thing that is certain is that Fitch's bats are ready for those upcoming playoffs. Fitch averaged six-and-a-half runs per game last week because of some strong hitting throughout the lineup.
"We are hitting the ball well 1 through 9," said Ford. "(Anthony) Paris started slow but he is becoming more consistent for us. (Logan) Kane has been doing some clutch hitting for us too."
Paris had a big RBI hit in the first inning against the Spartans as the Falcons flew out to a 3-1 lead after one inning of that contest. Kane would collect a clutch RBI as Fitch posted three runs again in the second stanza. Being able to hold a 6-1 lead after two frames was key because it kept Fitch comfortable the rest of the game.
"We were lucky to get out of a first inning jam," Ford explained. "We gained confidence after that."
While seniors Paris and Kane were confidently going on with their business, the super sophomores who are scattered throughout Coach Ford's lineup also began attacking the Spartans. Zack Miller had two doubles and a single, Scott Pierce had an RBI double and Shane Vitullo had a couple hits and a scored a couple runs.
"There are times we are starting five or six sophomores," said Ford incredulously. "Miller had a big game versus Boardman as did Pierce and Vitullo."
Also coming up big against Boardman was junior Kevin Sierra. This speedy outfielder and lead off hitter has done wonders whenever he steps into the batters box. He had three hits and scored multiple times last Saturday.
"Kevin Sierra is our catalyst," said Ford excitedly. "Whenever he gets on base he's been a spark for us."
Freshman Noah Suchora sparked the Falcons from the pitcher's mound earning the win. Suchora, who got relief help from sophomore Mike Bobonick, wasn't very sharp allowing nine walks, but he limited Boardman to just four hits. It has been pitching like that lately, however, that has coach Ford concerned.
"The pitching has been kind of spotty," he said seriously. "Control problems have led to walks and errors. We have a lot of young pitchers starting. They have had some good games and they have had some games when it's hard for them to get the ball over the plate."
True to coach Ford's comments, Fitch's pitching gave up seven hits and committed three errors in a 6-4 loss to West Branch on April 27. The Falcons only booted the ball once in an 8-4 loss to Beaver Local on April 25, but gave the Beavers eight hits. The upsetting part of that game was that Fitch held a 3-0 lead after three innings only to allow Beaver Local to have matching four run innings in both the top of the fifth and sixth. Once the Beavers gained the lead, they built a dam around the Fitch offense and held the Falcons at bay the rest of the game.
"We jumped out to an early lead then we started coasting," said a disappointed Ford.
In Fitch's only other win of the week, a 9-4 walloping of West Branch on April 24, starting and winning pitcher Alex DiFrancesco was able to wiggle out of trouble in the bottom of the second inning then watched happily as his offense scored him seven runs in the top of the third. He was relieved by Alex Cooper who threw three innings of much needed relief. The senior duo of Paris and Kane were at it again offensively as both had first inning RBI's. Zarek Bell and Pierce each had a pair of hits.
A performance like that one in Beloit is what Ford would like to see from his boys the rest of the regular season. It would be even greater if the high octane offense would carry into the playoffs. The Falcons will be the number three seed in the tournament and will take on East in round one. If the Falcons successfully pick off the Panthers, they will get a much anticipated rematch with Howland.
"Playing Howland would be exciting," said Ford enthusiastically. "This would be the third year in a row for us and they got us the first two. There would be no lack of motivation for that game."