For the second consecutive season the Fitch baseball team has won the All American Conference championship.
The Falcons collected the coveted crown by sweeping Howland in a home-in-home series last week. Fitch tamed the Tigers 8-3 at Eastwood Field May 7 then came back one day later at home and clinched the league with a 10-6 triumph.
It was the 18 runs and 29 hits that enabled Fitch to hurt Howland. In the first game against Howland, a single run by the Tigers in the second inning and one by Fitch in the top of the third had the game tied 1-1 through five frames. In the visitor's portion of the sixth, however, the Falcons started spanking the baseball all over Eastwood. Phil Socha singled and Luke Peterson doubled to help load the bases for Fitch. Sophomore Dominic DiFrancesco rattled the Tigers' cage with a two-run double to make it 3-1 Falcons. Kyle Benyo blasted a three-run homer to double his team's run total. Socha would also add a two-run double to give Fitch eight runs for the day. He would finish the game four for four. Shane Vitullo had an RBI hit to plate Fitch's first run in the third inning.
The Howland Tigers traveled to Austintown May 8 where they were foiled by the Falcons with 16 hits including six in the opening inning. That early outburst was highlighted by another Benyo three-run bomb. Scott Pierce plastered a homerun of his own in the home half of the fourth as Fitch cruised to the conference crown.
It would have been easy for the Falcons to relax and sit on the laurels of winning a championship, but that is not how head coach Wally Ford has built this bunch. A couple days after taking the two tilts from the Tigers, Fitch came back and easily swept a doubleheader from West Branch 10-0 and 8-1.
While the offense was once again enormous in the opening game, the pitching by Noah Suchora stole the show. Suchora sliced the Warriors allowing just one hit in six innings. He also struck out three to earn the win. Pierce provided the punch at the plate with three hits including a homer and also scored three times. Benyo kept sizzling with another homerun. Peterson had a double, two singles and two RBIs and Vitullo had a double, a single, two RBIs and three runs scored.
Vitullo would use that first game performance as a springboard to help the Falcons sweep the Warriors. The senior smacked four more hits in the nightcap to give him six hits in the double dip. Zack Miller had a pair of hits and two RBIs. Benyo would not be left behind as he knocked in three runs.
Perhaps all of the momentum Fitch's offense has had the last few games began on May 5 when North Canton Hoover came to town. The Falcons certainly were looking to prove themselves to be a worthy contender in the upcoming Division I state tournament and a win over a tough Division I outfit like Hoover would be a great way to do so. Patrick Gerberry pitched six and one-third innings striking out four while the Falcons ripped 15 hits in a defining 9-3 victory. Nick Heitzer went three for three to aid the offense. Socha went 3 for 4. Pierce, Vitullo, Miller and Peterson all collected two hits.
Ford's Falcons have earned the top seed in their bracket of the state playoffs meaning they also earned a first round bye. Fitch was scheduled to meet the winner of the opening round match between Warren Harding and Boardman May 13.