Ike starts strong, falters late against Cambridge Springs

Eisenhower looked to be on its way to another Region 3 win Wednesday as the Knights held a 3-2 lead over Cambridge Springs heading into the sixth inning.

Things suddenly unraveled at that point as the Blue Devils walked six times (including two HBP) and picked up four hits en route to an 8-run inning and 10-3 win over the Knights.

“This was just a killer loss,” Eisenhower assistant coach Rick Rohlin said. “They’re a solid team and we were up 3-2 going into the sixth inning. It was a pitcher’s duel and then everything fell apart.”

Eisenhower (1-2 overall, 1-2 Region 3) pitcher Nick Smelko cruised through the first five innings, but struggling after getting the leadoff man to fly out in the sixth. He walked the next three batters to load the bases and gave up a RBI single to Jaden Grubbs to tie the game at 3-3. He then hit Tristen Findlay with a pitch to score another run before giving way to Owen Trumbull.

“Nick Smelko was just fantastic,” Rohlin said. “His first 85 pitches, he was outstanding. He just ran out of gas.”

Eisenhower struck first in the bottom of the second. Paul Swanson reached on an error and Zane Alexander came in to pinch run. Alexander stole second and third before scoring on a ground out with the infield in.

“That was a total manufactured run,” Rohlin said. “There was no play (at the plate). It was very impressive. We just have to get this guy on base.”

Cambridge answered in the fourth, taking advantage of an error to tie the game at 1-1. The Blue Devils took a 2-1 lead in the fifth when Levi Henderson’s double plated Walker Cunningham.

The Knights would take the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Drew Williams led off with a walk and moved to third on Drake Gens’ double. Williams scored when Smelko put down a squeeze bunt, and Dakota Chase’s single plated Gens to give Eisenhower the 3-2 advantage.

Smelko went 5 1/3, giving up seven runs (six earned) on five hits while walking five and striking out three. Trumbull pitched 1 2/3 innings of relief. He surrendered three runs on three hits, walked one and struck out two.

“Trumbull did a solid job with his first varsity experience,” Rohlin said. Despite the setback, the Eisenhower coaching staff is pleased with what it has seen from the young Knights team so far.

“We’ve played three games and competed in all of them,” Rohlin said. “That makes us feel pretty good.”

The Knights are scheduled to host Saegertown Friday before traveling to Cochranton Saturday.

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CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS (10) – Swab, cf, 4-1-1-1, L. Henderson, lf, 4-1-1-2, Schultz, c, 3-1-1-2, Wheeler, 3b/p, 4-0-1-2, Crays, 1b/p, 2-2-1-0, A. Henderson, rf/2b, 2-1-1-0, Wheeler, ss/p, 3-1-0-0, Cunningham, dh, 2-1-1-0, Eakin, dh, 0-0-0-0, Grubbs, dh, 2-1-1-1, Findlay, p/1b, 2-1-0-1, Team 28-10-8-9

EISENHOWER (3) – Williams, ss, 3-1-1-0, Gens, 3b, 4-1-1-0, Smelko, p/1b, 1-0-1-1, Chase, 1b/cf, 3-0-1-1, Swanson, c, 3-1-0-0, Rohlin, 2b, 3-0-1-0, Trumbull, cf/p, 2-0-0-0, Gray, dh, 2-0-0-1, Benson, lf, 2-0-0-0, Beers, rf, 1-0-0-0, Team 24-3-5-3

Cambridge Springs 000 118 0 – 10 8 2

Eisenhower 010 020 0 – 3 4 3

2b-L. Henderson (C), Crays (C), Gens (E). WP-Wheeler. LP-Smelko.