Warren quartet powers Steelheads to tournament final

Photo submitted to the Times Observer The Erie Steelheads 16U travel baseball team, featuring Warren baseball’s Mitch Grosch, Nick Hussey, Micah Passmore and Ryan Rafalski, finished second at the Mercyhurst High School Tournament. All four Dragons were instrumental in the teams 4-2 record and trip to the tournament final.

ERIE – Warren’s Mitch Grosch was phenomenal for the Erie Steelheads 16U team during the Mercyhurst High School Tournament this weekend.

The junior third baseman went 9-16 with two doubles, a homerun, five RBI and 10 runs scored through six games to help the Steelheads reach the tournament final. The Young Bucks 18U defeated the Steelheads, 6-2, in the final.

Grosch’s Dragon teammates, junior Ryan Rafalski and sophomores Micah Passmore and Nick Hussey were also instrumental in the team’s success. Passmore was 5-14 with a pair of doubles, two runs scored and a run driven in. Rafalski was 2-14 with a RBI and run scored and Hussey scored twice as a courtesy runner.

On the mound, Rafalski allowed just two runs, both earned, over five innings on three hits. He walked four and struck out six. Hussey gave up six runs, five earned, in six innings. He gave up five hits, walked 10 and struck out four. Grosch allowed nine runs, all earned, in four innings on eight hits. He walked 10 and struck out five.

Steelheads 12, Team New Era 0, 3 innings

Mitch Grosch

Grosch went 3-3 with a double, a homerun, three RBI and two runs scored to lead the Steelheads to a 12-0 rout of Team New Era.

Micah Passmore was 1-2 with a double, RBI and run scored and Ryan Rafalski went 1-1 with a run scored in the win as well.

Grosch started the game with a bang, he homered on the second pitch to put the Steelheads up 1-0. With one away and runners on first and second in the inning, Rafalski hit an infield single to load the bases. An error and sac fly allowed two more runs to score to make it 3-0 after one inning.

With one out in the second, Passmore reached on an error and took second on another error. Grosch came to the plate with two away and ripped a double on the first pitch to score Passmore and make it 4-0 Steelies.

Following a Mason Bender (Fairview) 2-run homer in the third, Rafalski was hit by a pitch. He stole second and moved to third on Cody Smith’s (Harbor Creek) single. Cameron Williamson’s (Harbor Creek) single scored Rafalski and made it 7-0. One out later, Passmore shot a double to left to score Smith and put the Steelies up 8-0. Williamson scored when Jared Bielanin (McDowell) reached on an error and Grosch followed with a single to plate Passmore and make it 10-0. Following a Matthew Shepard single to load the bases, Casey Smith (Harbor Creek) hit a 2-run single to end the game via the 12-run rule.

Micah Passmore

Steelheads 6, Flood City Elite 4

Grosch scored the go-ahead run and Rafalski threw three innings in relief to help the Steelheads to a 6-4 win over Flood City Elite.

Grosch drew a leadoff walk to start the game, then scored when Bender walked with the bases loaded. Rafalski followed with a RBI single to make it 2-0, and Williamson drove in the third run with a one-out single later in the inning.

Flood City came back to score a pair in the second, and tied the game at 3-3 with a run in the fourth.

With one out in the fifth Grosch and Shepard both reached on errors. Casey Smith doubled to score Grosch and put the Steelies up 4-3. Bender followed with a 2-run double to make it 6-3.

Flood City picked up a run in the seventh, but Rafalski shut the door to preserve the win.

Grosch finished 0-3 with a walk, but reached base and scored three times. Passmore went 1-3 with a double and Rafalski was 1-3 with a run driven in.

On the mound, Rafalski allowed one run over three innings. He gave up just one hit, walked three and struck out four.

Steelheads 8, Hot Corner Griffs 3

Grosch and Passmore combined to score half of the Steelheads runs in an 8-3 win against the Hot Corner Griffs in Sunday’s opening game.

For the third straight game, Grosch opened the scoring. He hit a leadoff single to start the contest, then came home on Bender’s one out single to right.

The Griffs tied it at 1-1 in the bottom half, and both teams went scoreless until the fifth.

Aidan Kelly (Erie Cathedral Prep) hit a one out single, and with two away, Grosch walked to put runners at first and second. Shepard singled to load the bases and Casey Smith followed with a single to right that scored Kelly and Grosch and put the Steelies up 3-1. Bender followed with a 2-run double to make it 5-1.

Williamson doubled with one out in the sixth, but was thrown out at the plate on Passmore’s single. Kelly doubled in Passmore to give the Steelheads a 6-1 advantage.

The Griffs got one back in their half of the sixth, but the Steelheads got a pair of insurance runs in the seventh.

Grosch hit a leadoff single and came home on Casey Smith’s infield single. Bender grounded into a fielder’s choice, but a run scored on the play to make it 8-2.

Steelheads 8, Americans Showcase 7, 6 innings (Semifinals)

The Steelheads hung on for an 8-7 win against the Americans Showcase in a back-and-forth affair during the semifinals.

Grosch singled to start the game, and Nick Hussey came on as a courtesy runner. Shepard followed with a single and, one out later, Bender brought Hussey home with an infield single. Rafalski was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Cody Smith singled and Williamson hit a sac fly to give the Steelheads a 3-0 lead.

With Grosch pitching, Showcase answered with a four-spot in the home half. Showcase scored the runs on three hits, three walks and a pair of fielder’s choice.

Grosch helped himself in the second. The first two batters were both hit by a pitch to bring him to the plate with two on and no outs. With a 1-0 count, Grosch ripped a double to left to bring in a run and tie the game at 4-4. Hussey again entered as a courtesy runner. Shepard hit a sac fly and with two outs, Bender doubled to plate Hussey and push the lead to 6-4.

Showcase looked primed for a big inning in the third. A hit batter and consecutive singles had the bases loaded with no outs. Grosch worked out of it with the lead. One run scored on a double play, but Grosch got the next batter to strike out to keep the Steelies ahead, 6-5.

With Bielanin on first following a leadoff walk, Grosch grounded into a fielder’s choice. He moved to second when Shepard walked and scored on Bender’s 2-out single.

Williamson was hit with one out in the fifth and Passmore singled him to second. Hussey came in to run for Passmore, and with one away, Bielanin was hit to load the bases. Grosch singled to left to score Williamson and give the Steelheads an 8-5 advantage.

Showcase scored a pair in the home half, but Casey Smith allowed only a single runner in the sixth to close out the game.

Grosch finished 3-4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored. Passmore went 2-3 with a double and Hussey scored twice as a courtesy runner.

On the mound, Grosch gave up five runs, all earned, in his three innings of work. He allowed five hits and five walks and struck out four.

Young Bucks 6, Steelheads 2 (Finals)

The Steelheads ran into a tough Young Bucks 18U team in the finals and dropped a 6-2 decision.

Grosch and Shepard hit back-to-back singles to start the game. A pair of fielder’s choice plated Grosch to put the Steelheads on the board.

The Young Bucks tied it in the second thanks to an error, then grabbed a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in the third. The Bucks got to Hussey with a walk and RBI double to start the inning. A single and pair of walks scored another and they picked up their third run on a fielder’s choice for a 4-1 lead.

Kelly hit a double in the fifth and scored on a pair of wild pitches to make it 4-2. It was the last run the Steelheads would score in the tournament. The Bucks scored one each in the fifth and sixth innings to take home the tourament title.