Grosch’s go-ahead blast sparks offensive outburst, backs strong outing from Knapp in Dragons’ win over Corry
COLUMBUS, Pa. – Time and again this season, Warren sophomore Mitch Grosch has come up with a big hit.
He did so again on Wednesday, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Trailing 3-2 with two out in the fifth inning against Corry, he took a 3-2 pitch from Alex Shopene and deposited it over the center field fence for a 3-run home run.
That opened the floodgates for the Dragon offense, which backed an excellent outing on the mound by senior Derek Knapp in a 12-4 win at The Ballpark at Columbus.
“I didn’t know it was out when I hit it, I was just looking to put it over the second baseman’s head and get a base hit,” Grosch said. “I got it inner-half and didn’t miss it.”
The Dragons (12-4 overall, 5-2 Region 6), who are on the back end of a seven games in nine day stretch, were a little sluggish to start.
They gave up two unearned runs in the first inning, which was highlighted by the Beavers in the form of a Brandon Elchynski 2-run single that gave the home team an early 3-0 advantage.
Knapp, wasn’t fazed, however. After the first, he threw up four consecutive zeros.
“I know the guys behind me are going to make errors sometimes, but they come back strong,” Knapp said. “I know I have them behind me and they are going to make the plays.”
They certainly did that, and Knapp also kept the ball out of play often, striking out nine and issuing just one walk.
“I thought his curveball was really working out there and he got key outs when he needed them,” added Grosch.
Conversely, the Dragons were quiet in the early going against Corry starter Jake Sulecki, but were able to get on the board in the third inning on a double into the gap by Ryan Rafalski that brought in Colby Johnson, who singled with one out.
Knapp was dominant in the middle innings, allowing the offense to go to work. He struck out the side in the fourth and didn’t allow a runner to reach scoring position in the third, fourth or fifth.
That allowed the Dragons to chip away at the lead, getting another run back in the fourth when Austyn Cummings roped a triple into the right field corner. He scored when the throw into third base went awry.
It was part of a big day for the Dragons’ cleanup man, going 3-for-3 and finishing a home run shy of the cycle.
“This year, I’ve had more strikeouts than last year, but that’s just baseball,” Cummings said. “I’ve been in a little bit of a slump, but today I switched my stance a little bit and I felt like it clicked and I just feel like everything’s starting to come together. I feel real confident at the plate.”
Shopene relieved Sulecki in the fifth, and that’s when the floodgates opened for Warren, all with two outs.
Johnson walked and Owen Balas reached on an error to set the stage for Grosch’s home run.
Cummings and Aidan Morrison followed with back-to-back singles, and another error coupled with an RBI single by Knapp made it 7-3.
The offense continued rolling in the sixth, again, all with two outs.
Balas singled, stole second and scored on a single by Grosch. Cummings followed with another extra-base hit, a double that brought in Grosch.
Morrison reached on a fly ball that wasn’t fielded cleanly, allowing another run to score, and Nate Betts capped the frame with an RBI triple that brought in pinch-runner Ryan Arnold.
It’s an offense that had been producing up and down the lineup, scoring 46 runs in its last four games.
“We had a few funky games there where some kids were getting hits, some weren’t, but then we just all started to put it together,” Cummings said. “We’ve really got the team together this year. We’ve been going to dinner, breakfast, and it’s really starting to show because we’re all out there as a team. We’re all getting hits together. We’re keeping each other up. When one person has a bad play, we start getting it going, keeping that person up.”
Corry tacked on an unearned run in the sixth and Warren did the same in the top of the seventh.
Knapp echoed similar thoughts to Cummings’ on the Dragons’ offensive success.
“We’ve got guys that get on base at the top and guys in the middle that drive them in,” he said. “We’re just stringing hits together.”
Rafalski came on in relief of Knapp in the seventh and needed just six pitches to retire the side in order, including a strikeout.
And, while Harbor Creek clinched the Region 6 title with a win over Fort LeBoeuf on Thursday, the Dragons know they still have everything they want to accomplish right in front of them.
That includes hoping to exact a measure of revenge on McDowell, a team that handed them a 5-0 loss earlier this season, at UPMC Park on Friday.
“I know today some of us were like, ‘we’re getting pretty tired out here, we hope we get a few days off,’ but we’re going to practice tomorrow (Thursday), get a few swing in to stay fresh and then have a game in Erie, which will be exciting,” Cummings said.
NOTES: Every starter in the lineup recorded a hit except the red-hot Lance Baldensperger, who was robbed of extra bases in the sixth … Grosch is hitting a team-leading .519 … “Middle opposite-field, everything else just hit it where it’s pitched,” he said about his approach … The nine strikeouts by Knapp were a varsity career-high.
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Baldensperger cf 5-0-0-0, Balas rf-c 5-1-1-0, Grosch 3b 4-2-3-4, Cummings 1b-rf 3-3-3-1, Morrison c 4-1-2-0, Arnold cr 0-2-0-0, Leonard 1b 0-0-0-0, Betts ss 3-0-1-1, Knapp p-2b 4-0-1-1, Johnson lf 3-3-2-0, Rafalsk 2b-p 3-0-1-1, Gustafson cr 0-0-0-0, Totals 34-12-14-8
Jackson ss 4-1-0-0, Lesher 2b 4-1-2-0, Elchynski 3b 4-1-1-2, Richardson cf 4-0-0-0, Shopene 1b 3-0-0-0, Nichols c 3-0-2-1, James cr 0-1-0-0, Sulecki p 3-0-0-0, Yetzer rf 3-0-0-0, Ehrhart lf 1-0-0-0, Redrup lf 1-0-0-0, Totals 30-4-5-3
Warren 001 154 1 – 12 14 5
Corry 300 001 0 – 4 5 6
2B – Cummings (W), Johnson (W), Rafalsk (W), Lesher (C); 3B – Cummings (W), Betts (W); HR – Grosch (W); WP – Knapp; LP – Shopene
Knapp 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 SO
Rafalski 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO
Suleck 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO
Shopene 1 2/3 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 0 SO
Lesher 1 1/3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO
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JV: Warren 11, Corry 2
Hunter Loomis went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI to lead a strong offensive outing to lead the Warren JVs (12-2-1) to an 11-2 win.
Ethan Wilson was 2-for-5 with two RBI and three runs scored, while Nick Hussey had a double and a pair of RBI.
Tyler Gustafson, Hussey and Arnold were all strong on the mound, with Arnold tossing three hitless innings.
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Gustafson 3-1-1-1, Passmore 4-1-0-0, Swanson 3-2-1-0 Berdine 3-0-0-0, Wilson 5-3-2-2, Loomis 3-1-2-2, Borger 3-2-0-1, Maeder 1-0-1-0, Hussey 4-0-1-2, Arnold 3-1-1-0, Totals 32-11-9-9
Redrup 4-1-1-0, James 4-1-1-0, Willis 4-0-1-0, Powell 3-0-0-0, Gentilman 1-0-0-0, Yatsko 0-0-0-0, Ehrhart 3-0-1-0, Southerland 1-0-0-0, Sherwood 2-0-0-0, Dyne 1-0-0-0, Biondi 1-0-0-0, Richardson 1-0-0-0, Totals 25-2-4-0
Warren 010 316 0 – 11 9 2
Corry 200 000 0 – 2
2B – Loomis (2), Hussey; WP – Hussey; LP – Gentilman
Gustafson 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO
Hussey 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO
Arnold 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO