Ed Townsend | Democrat
Sophomore pitcher Justin Swarthout got his first taste of varsity baseball Tuesday as Tri-Valley hosted Sullivan West. Patrick Pierce’s five RBIs and five strikeouts in a two-inning relief stint helped lead Sullivan West to an 8-2 victory.
SW junior spoils Tri-Valley opener with five RBI
Story by Ed Townsend
GRAHAMSVILLE April 12, 2013 Two Northeast Pride Showcase team players shined in Grahamsville Tuesday as both Sullivan West's Patrick Pierce and Tri-Valley's Rodney T. Jester delivered three hits. But Pierce’s at bats pushed across five runs to help lead the Bulldogs to an 8-2 win.
Brad Hemmer doubled, singled and drove in one run for Sullivan West, 1-1.
Tuesday's game for Tri-Valley, the defending Section IX Class C Champion, was its season opener. They played Sullivan West in a scrimmage a week ago in brutally cold weather.
Both squads recorded no runs the first two innings with Tri-Valley sophomore starter Justin Swarthout getting three strikeouts in the first inning and retiring the Bulldogs in order in the second inning.
Sullivan West got on the board in the third inning. Cody Franskevicz walked and Hemmer smacked a double putting runners on second and third for Pierce who came through with a two-RBI single.
The Bulldogs’ fourth inning proved to be the death blow. With one out, Owen Andres singled and consecutive walks to Blain Reddish and starting pitcher Karl Knecht loaded the bases. Infield grounders by Sawyer Erlwein and Brad Hemmer scored two runs and then Pierce cleared the bases a three-run double.
The Bears brought in Jared Nash to pitch the remaining innings. Pierce relieved Knecht and struck out five, though Tri-Valley did manage to push across two runs in the bottom of the seventh on a double by Michael Foster.
Sullivan West coach Jim O'Connor had high praise for his team's timely hitting. "We were such a young team last year and this is a great bunch of kids,” said O’Connor. “They're very talented, but you have to do the little things and the biggest thing I'm trying to help my kids with is to get them to play a full game whether you're up or down."
Tri-Valley coach John Rusin is in a similar position to what O’Connor faced last year coaching a very young team.”
"Sullivan West took advantage of the breaks and we didn't get our leadoff runners on," Tri-Valley coach John Rusin. "We have a lot of young guys (Swarthout, Jared Nash and Donovan Flores) and so there are those opening game jitters. But I saw a lot of good things and a team that most definitely backed their pitchers up and there was no quit in these guys."
Rusin added, "Sullivan West made all the routine plays, had timely hitting and took advantage of our mistakes."
Tri-Valley is returning just six players from last year’s 18-5 team. Part of the new Tri-Valley pitching staff this year includes Swarthout who was later relieved by sophomore Jared Nash. Other Bear’s pitchers include Jester and junior Alex Brown.
Rusin singled out catcher John Anzano saying, "he had a big game behind the plate and he called a great game as I gave him the reins early and he was able to call the pitches." Anzano also had two hits.