Worst to first.
That's what Eisenhower baseball coach Jon Vincent has been preaching to his team since the Knights' last place finish in region play a season ago.
Ike moved one step closer to realizing its goal, improving to 4-0 in the region with a 10-0 victory over county rival Youngsville Saturday at Werner Park in Russell.
Times Observer photo by Allen Seybert
Eisenhower’s Aaron Lundmark smacks a pitch for a first inning base hit in front of Youngsville catcher Broc Horn during a region baseball game between the teams Saturday morning at Werner Park. The Knights improved to 3-8 with a 10-0, five-inning victory.
The Knights (6-8, 4-0) have two region contests remaining and a win in either would lock up at least a share of the region title. Ike hosts Mercyhurst Prep on Monday before wrapping up the regular season in Youngsville on Wednesday.
Saturday's game was a thing of beauty - at least from the Knights' perspective - and Vincent couldn't have been happier with the way his team played.
"Up until these last two games we'd been struggling to hit with runners in scoring position," he said. "Against Iroquois we broke out a little bit and that continued today. (Youngsville) gave us some help with some walks and a couple of errors, but when we put the bat on the ball it was good, solid contact."
YOUNGSVILLE (0): ab-r-h-rbi: Marino, cf, 2-0-0-0, Frazier, 2b, 1-0-0-0, Lewis, p, 1-0-0-0, C. Linkerhof, lf, 3-0-0-0, Craig, ss, 2-0-0-0, Dininny, 1b, 2-0-0-0, Horn, c, 2-0-1-0, McLaughlin, rf, 2-0-0-0, Henry, 3b, 2-0-0-0, J. Linkerhof, 2b, 1-0-0-0, Totals: 18-0-1-0
EISENHOWER (10): ab-r-h-rbi: Hastings, 2b-lf, 3-1-0-0, Lundmark, c, 4-1-2-1, Jackson, p-2b, 2-1-0-0, Hunt, ss, 2-1-1-1, Rutsky, 1b, 2-0-1-0, Arford, rf, 2-2-0-1, Fedorchuk, cf, 0-1-0-1, Spicer, 3b, 3-2-1-2, Williams, lf-p, 2-0-2-2, Deppas, cr, 0-1-0-0, Totals: 20-10-7-8
Youngsville 000 00 - 0 1 2
Eisenhower 602 2x - 10 7 1
2b-Spicer (E), Williams (E). WP-Williams. LP-Lewis.
WARREN (3): ab-r-h-rbi: Thomas, ss, 4-2-1-0, Bevevino, c, 5-1-1-1, Morrison, p-2b-3b, 4-0-0-0, VanOrd, 3b, 5-0-3-1, Walters, pr, 0-0-0-0, Fantaskey, pr-2b, 0-0-0-0, Jaskolka, rf, 3-0-1-1, Dorunda, 2b-p, 4-0-1-0, McMeans, 1b, 1-0-0-0, Maeder, lf, 2-0-0-0, Danielson, cf, 4-0-1-0, Totals: 33-3-8-3
FORT LEBOEUF (1): ab-r-h-rbi: Van Damia, c, 4-0-0-0, Rose, 2b, 4-0-0-0, Lockhart, ss, 4-1-2-0, Bastow, p, 4-0-0-0, Yost, lf, 3-0-1-1, Latsko, cf, 4-0-1-0, Litz, 3b, 4-0-0-0, Peters, 1b, 4-0-0-0, Carroll, ph, 1-0-0-0, Dombkowski, rf, 2-0-1-0, Totals: 32-1-7-1
Warren 000 010 002 - 3 8 0
Fort LeBoeuf 000 100 000 - 1 6 1
2b-Bevevino (W), VanOrd (W), Lockhart (F). WP-Dorunda. LP-Rose.
Vincent also praised the play of his defense and said some minor position changes in the field are paying off.
"I think we're stronger in the field with guys where they are now," he said. "Eric Hastings made three great plays in left today and this was only his second game out there this season."
The game between county rivals actually started last month before rain caused suspension in the top of the first inning. Play started Saturday with two Eagles aboard, two outs and a 2-2 count on batter Sawyer Dininny. Vincent called on pitcher Aaron Jackson to give him one strike and the senior did just that, blowing a fast ball past Dininny to end Youngsville's threat.
The Knights broke the game open in their first at-bat, hitting up Eagles pitcher Josh Lewis for six first-inning runs. Hastings led off with a walk and Aaron Lundmark singled ahead of back-to-back walks drawn by Jackson and Kyle Hunt. Hunt's walk forced Hastings home and Ike led 1-0.
After an out, Shane Arford worked a bases loaded walk to make it 2-0 and Jeb Fedorchuk's sacrifice fly pushed the lead to three. Before the inning was over, Trevor Spicer collected a two-run double and Ryan Williams had an RBI double of his own to make it 6-0.
Williams took the ball from Jackson in the top of the second and pitched four masterful innings. Williams struck out three batters and allowed only a Broc Horn single in the fourth inning.
Williams and Lundmark added RBI singles in the third inning to push the gap to 8-0 and two unearned runs in the fourth made it a ten-run Knights lead. Williams set down Lewis, Caleb Linkerhof and Cory Craig in order in the top of the fifth to end the game via the ten-run rule.
Eisenhower finished with just seven hits, but took advantage of seven Youngsville free passes. Lundmark and Williams belted two hits each and Hunt, Joe Rutsky and Spicer also had hits.
The Knights can lock up the region title Monday with a win at home against Mercyhurst Prep. Youngsville (3-11) hosts Iroquois that same day.
Warren 3, Fort LeBoeuf 1, 9 innings
WATERFORD - Warren didn't bring its best offensive performance to Waterford on Saturday, but the bats showed up when needed most.
RBI doubles by Andrew Bevevino and Kevin VanOrd in the top of the ninth inning broke a 1-1 tie and kept the Dragons in the hunt for a region title with a 3-1 victory over the Bison.
"We weren't hitting the ball as well as I'd had hoped early on, but we kept plugging away," said Warren coach Jeff Passaro. "We got some key hits in the ninth from Kory (Thomas), Andrew and Kevin and that was the difference in the game. This really was a must win for us if we want at least a share of the region title."
Fort LeBoeuf actually scored first in the contest, scoring on a Tyler Yost RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning. Warren was able to tie things up in the top of the fifth thanks to a clutch two-out hit by Matt Jaskolka.
Thomas reached base on a walk and advanced to third on VanOrd's two-out single. Jaskolka was up next and singled home Thomas to tie the game at 1-1 - a score that would hold until the ninth.
Starting pitcher Hank Morrison ensured the game got to extra innings, holding the Bison to just one run in seven innings of work. Eddie Dorunda took over in the eighth and earned the victory.
"Hank pitched another great game," said Passaro. "He pitched us past McDowell last Thursday and was strong again today. It's a shame he couldn't get the win because he deserved it."
After a scoreless eighth inning, the Dragons finally broke through in the ninth. Thomas again started the rally with a single and he raced home on Bevevino's RBI double. After a Morrison fly out, VanOrd added a double of his own, plating Bevevino and providing the winning margin.
The Dragons (12-2, 7-2 Region 8) are back in action Monday, hosting Meadville on Senior Recognition Day. Warren can clinch at least a share of the region title Wednesday with a victory at Corry.