By Ted Waddell
ELDRED May 14, 2002 It was a day of pain in the rain. It was a day fit for ducks.
In the wake of Thursday afternoons OCIAA Division V baseball game that was played in a persistent cold drizzle, the home team Eldred Yellowjackets (0-9, 0-5 OCIAA) are still searching for their first victory of the season.
The Spartans of S. S. Seward (10-5, 6-0 OCIAA) defeated Eldred by an 11-1 margin, thanks to a spate of spirited swatting and a series of Yellowjacket errors.
Both teams loaded the bases more than once in the contest. But the Spartans converted their scoring opportunities into runs, while Eldred left a lot of folks stranded on the bases and looking hopefully at the plate.
For the Yellowjackets, 2002 is a proverbial rebuilding year, as the coaching staff stands firm behind a lone senior (Justin Brundage), four juniors and a cadre of up-and-coming eighth, ninth and 10th graders.
Were a very young bunch of kids, Eldred Coach Frank Kean said. Were improving . . . theyll come around next year. As long as theyre having fun, thats what counts.
In the first inning, Seward scored twice to set the tone of a chilly day for Eldred. Dan Gass walked and Justin Gaucher reached on an error. Joe Yurchuk grounded out to send Gass across the plate. Later in the frame, Gaucher scored on an error.
The Spartans racked up three more runs in the second inning.
Eldred hurler Jeremy Harris served up a walk to Mickey Collins. James McAteer singled and Gass walked. Gaucher hit into a fielders choice, scoring Collins.
A single by Yurchuk and an error brought home the second run of the inning. Then Gaucher scored on an outfield error.
In the bottom of the second, the Yellowjackets recorded their only run of the soggy afternoon. John Harris walked and moved to second on a grounder by Brundage. John Harris danced home on a fielders choice by Jeremy Harris.
The Spartans were back on a scoring rampage in the third inning as they added three more runs to their tally. Brian Folkl walked, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a RBI single by Rob Gillespie.
Gillespie stole second and went home on an error. Gass drove in McAteer with a single.
In the bottom of the third, Eldred stacked the deck with a combination of walks and stolen bases, but couldnt get anyone across the plate.
In the top of the fourth, Jeremy Harris loaded the bases but escaped the inning without further damage as Seward went scoreless.
Seward pitcher Jack Harter started off the bottom of the fourth by walking a couple of Yellowjackets, but managed to prevent any Eldred players from crossing the plate.
In the fifth, Gaucher walked, Yurchuk singled and Harter walked to load the bases. After Kean replaced Harris with Brundage on the mound, the stage was set for Seward to score three runs.
Gaucher scored on a grounder by Folkl and a sacrifice fly sent Yurchuck home. Pinch-hitter Tom Andryshak then singled to score Harter.
In the bottom of the fifth frame, Eldreds hard core catcher John Tice caused a brief flurry of excitement on the home team bench and among a small bunch of die-hard fans as he legged it out to first base on a ground ball. After stealing second and third, however, Tice was left stranded in scoring position as Seward recorded the final out of the game.
The umps called the game at the end of five innings due to the inclement weather.
It was kind of cold and wet, and it seemed like a typical game to me, Tice said. We have a lot of young players, we had a couple of errors and our batting isnt up to par.
This is the 17-year-juniors third year behind the varsity plate.
It was cold, it was wet and my eighth-grade pitcher (Jack Harter) threw a three-hitter even though he walked quite a few batters, said Seward Coach Bill Steele.
Eldred helmsman Frank Kean said the Yellowjackets need to work on cutting down the number of errors if theyre going to get into the winning column. In Thursdays outing, they were charged with seven errors.
I think Florida (S. S. Seward) is a real strong team and they hit well, Kean said. We just keep on making mistakes . . . we continue to make seven or eight errors in a ballgame, and thats hurting us. Were a very young squad.
Asked for his take on the season, 14-year-old first-year varsity starter Patrick Kean replied, We started out pretty bad, but were getting better.