Hussey shuts down McDowell, Warren bats come alive in win

Warren pitcher Nick Hussey fires to the plate during the fourth inning of a game against McDowell at Legion Field, Monday, April 22, 2019. Hussey was strong for the Dragons, giving up just one run over five innings on two hits while walking three and striking out six in a 7-1 win over the Trojans.

Warren pitcher Nick Hussey made a mistake on the first pitch of Monday’s game against visiting McDowell.

It was, for all intents and purposes, the only mistake he made all day.

McDowell’s Matt Shepard, Hussey’s mound opponent, deposited that pitch over the right field fence to put the Trojans ahead 1-0. Aidan Morrison responded with a RBI double in the home half, and Austyn Cummings hit a 2-run homer of his own in the third to give Warren the lead for good in a 7-1 win.

“Nick commanded the ball really well,” Warren coach Rick Eaton said. “To give up that homerun and come back shows our fortitude.”

Hussey struck out the side after the Shepard home run to keep the Dragons (5-3) within striking distance of the Trojans (5-3).

Warren centerfielder Lance Baldensperger and his Dragon teammates take on Slippery Rock on Friday in the D-10 Class 4A semifinals at Ainsworth Field in Erie.

“Nick’s got great composure,” Morrison said. “We knew (Shepard) was a good player and always has a big role.”

Warren got the run right back in the home half.

Mitch Grosch drew a 1-out walk and Morrison came to the plate with two away. He lined the first pitch he saw to the fence in the left-centerfield gap to plate Grosch and tie the game at 1-1.

Both pitchers worked 1-2-3 seconds and a double play in the top of the third erased a leadoff walk for the Trojans.

Grosch set the table in the third when he walked with two outs. Cummings stepped in the box and took the first pitch high to right field. He hustled down the first base line thinking Chris Juncho would have a play on it, but the ball kept sailing and eventually landed beyond the fence for a 3-1 Dragons lead.

base coach Jeff Eaton after hitting a 2-run homerun in the third inning of a game against McDowell at Legion Field, Monday, April 22, 2019. Cummings’ blast put the Dragons on top for good as they went on to top the Trojans, 7-1.

The Trojans had their best scoring opportunity in the fifth.

With one away, Sam Crowley walked and Nate Hayes singled to put runners at first and second. Hussey got Shepard to pop out to short for the second out. Dan Snyder stepped in, but Hussey quickly jumped ahead in the count. The 1-2 pitch hit the dirt, bounced to the backstop and suddenly the Trojans had a pair in scoring position. Snyder worked the count full then hit the next pitch on the ground down the third base line. Just as Warren third baseman Micah Passmore moved to his left to field the ball, it hit third base and bounced in the air. Passmore quickly recovered, grabbed the ball as it was coming down and tagged Hayes as he was sliding into the bag. The tag came just before Crowley could touch the plate.

“This was an overall team effort,” Eaton said. “We kept making plays.”

The Dragons tacked on some insurance runs in the home half.

Hunter Loomis led off with a single and Lance Baldensperger bunted pinch-runner Ryan Arnold to second. With one out, Cummings walked and Morrison followed with a sharp ground ball single to right. Arnold scored to put Warren up 4-1. Passmore walked to load the bases, and close the book on Shepard’s day on the mound.

Warren shortstop Ryan Rafalski throws to first to complete a double play, while McDowell's Nate Hayes slides into second during the third inning of their game at Legion Field, Monday, April 22, 2019. Rafalski and the Dragons defeated the Trojans, 7-1.

On a full-count pitch, Ryan Rafalski punched a liner into right to score a pair and make it 6-1.

“We got some key hits from Aidan, Austyn and Raf,” Eaton said.

Grosch came on in relief for the sixth. With two outs, he issued a walk and hit a batter, but got Noah Timpano to strike out to end the inning.

Arnold hit a single with one out in the sixth and Baldensperger followed with a walk. Grosch hit a grounder between the pitcher and first base. Both players converged on the ball and it looked like Grosch would beat the play to the bag. Hunter Sorenson flipped to Shepard for the out on a close play. Arnold took advantage of the confusion at first and raced home for a 7-1 Dragons advantage.

“Our confidence comes from hitting,” Eaton said. “We worked hard on not giving at-bats away.”

Warren second baseman Tyler Gustafson throws to first to record an out during the seventh inning of a game against McDowell at Legion Field, Monday, April 22, 2019. The Dragons beat the Trojans, 7-1.

Rafalski worked a 1-2-3 seventh to close out the game.

Hussey was dominant. He gave up just the one run on two hits over five innings. He walked three and struck out six. Grosch and Rafalski each worked an inning of relief. They surrendered no hits, walked one and struck out three.

“That team doesn’t strike out much,” Eaton said. “They’re usually putting the ball in play.”

Shepard, a Mercyhurst commit, went 4 2/3. He gave up six runs, all earned, on four hits. He walked five and struck out eight.

“We didn’t let him get in a groove,” Morrison said. “We got hits when we needed them.”

Morrison had two hits and two RBI. Cummings and Rafalski added two RBI each and Grosch drove in another.

It was a good start to what figures to be a long week for the Dragons. They hit the road today for a clash with Erie Cathedral Prep. They return home Wednesday for a region game with Corry, then go back on the road for a contest at Meadville Friday before closing out the week with Bradford at Legion Field Saturday.

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MCDOWELL (1)

Shepard p-1b 4-1-1-1, Delgado lf 1-0-0-0, Snyder lf 1-0-0-0, Simmers c 0-0-0-0, Jackson dh 3-0-0-0, Hower cf 3-0-0-0, Juchno rf 2-0-0-0, Jones 3b 2-0-0-0, Timpano 2b 3-0-0-0, Crowley 2-0-0-0, Brink pr 0-0-0-0, Hayes 1b 1-0-1-0, Sorenson p 1-0-0-0, Totals 23-1-2-1

WARREN (7)

Baldensperger cf 2-0-0-0, Grosch 2b-p 2-2-0-1, Cummings lf 2-2-1-2, Morrison c 3-0-2-2, Passmore 3b 2-0-0-0, Rafalski ss-p 3-0-1-2, Berdine 1b 2-0-0-0, Swanson rf 3-0-0-0, Loomis dh 2-0-1-0, Arnold dh 1-2-1-0, Totals 22-7-6-7

McDowell 100 000 0 – 1 2 0

Warren 102 031 x – 7 6 1

DP-McDowell 1, Warren 1. 2b-Morrison (W). HR-Shepard (M), Cummings (W). SB-Arnold (W).

IP H R ER BB K

McDowell

Shepard (L, 2-1) 4.2 4 6 6 5 8

Sorenson 1.1 2 1 1 1 1

Warren

Hussey (W, 1-0) 5 2 1 1 3 6

Grosch 1 0 0 0 1 2

Rafalski 1 0 0 0 0 1

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