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Cummings blasts two homers, but Dragons come up just short against Meadville

Warren pitcher Colby Johnson fires a ball to the plate in the sixth inning.

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – A missed opportunity.

That’s likely how Warren baseball will view its 6-5 District 10 quarterfinal loss to Meadville Wednesday at Critchfield Park.

Trailing 4-3 and with the bases loaded in the sixth, the Dragons couldn’t put the ball in play against Meadville reliever Nick Frantz. The Bulldogs scored a pair in the seventh, one on an error, and got the Dragons to whiff twice with the tying run at the plate to end the game.

This despite two big home runs from Austyn Cummings.

“We fought back,” Warren coach Rick Eaton said. “We needed to come up with a clutch hit.”

Warren pitcher Adam Irwin tosses a ball to first for an out during a District 10 quarterfinal game against Meadville at Critchfield Park in Slippery Rock, Wednesday, May 23, 2018. Irwin was forced to leave the game due to injury after two innings and the Bulldogs went on to beat the Dragons, 6-5.

A pair of miscues allowed Meadville to put the first run on the board. Wyett Smith led off the second with a double to right, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error to put the Bulldogs up 1-0. They threatened again later in the inning after Warren starter Adam Irwin hit two batters and surrendered a single to load the bases. Irwin got Frantz to ground out to end the threat, but was forced to leave the game due to muscle tightness.

“Those hit batters let us know something was off (with Irwin),” Eaton said. “That’s uncharacteristic of him.”

Nick Hussey came on in relief to start the third and ran into some trouble with two outs. With runners on first and second, he hit Tony Cappellino with a pitch to load the bases. Cole Potase, the Bulldogs’ leading hitter, followed with a 2-run single to left to put Meadville up 3-0. Cappellino scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-0.

Derek Knapp drew a one-out walk to become the Dragons’ first baserunner of the game in the bottom half. James Swanson came in as a pinch runner and managed to “steal” second under unusual circumstances. With an 0-2 count, Ryan Rafalski took a pitch inside and started jogging to first, with Swanson making his way to second. Rafalski felt he had been hit by the pitch, but no dead ball was called. The plate umpire had Rafalski return to the batter’s box, but Swanson was allowed to stay at second because time wasn’t called until he was on the base.

Swanson was stranded at second as Meadville starter Chad Neugabauer cruised through the first three innings without giving up a hit and striking out five.

Warren third baseman Mitch Grosch throws to first for an out during a District 10 quarterfinal game against Meadville at Critchfield Park in Slippery Rock, Wednesday, May 23, 2018. Grosch was 2-4 with a pair of runs scored, but the Bulldogs narrowly edged the Dragons, 6-5, to advance to the semifinals and end Warren’s season.

Colby Johnson came in to record the final out of the third, and worked a clean fourth for the Dragons, the first inning Meadville didn’t put at least one runner on base.

“Nick did a good job,” Eaton said. “And Colby came in and shut them down.”

Warren got things going a bit in the fourth. Cummings stepped in to lead off the inning and blasted the first pitch he saw well past the right field fence for Warren’s first hit of the game.

The Dragons roughed up Neugabauer in the sixth. Mitch Grosch led off with a single and Cummings walked to put runners on first and second. One out later, Lance Baldensperger walked to load the bases. Colby Johnson reached on an error and the mistake allowed the Dragons to plate a pair and make it 4-3. Nate Betts was hit by a pitch, ending Neugabauer’s day. Frantz came on with the bases loaded and induced a pair of strikeouts to end the Warren threat.

Smith got things going for the Bulldogs in the seventh with a leadoff triple. Johnson got Alex Knox to strikeout, but Cappellino reached on an error and Smith scored on the play. Potase followed with a RBI double to make it 6-3 Bulldogs going into the final half inning.

With one away, Grosch singled and Cummings worked the count to 3-1. He launched the 3-1 pitch over the right field wall to pull Warren within one at 6-5. Frantz was able to get a pair of swinging strikeouts to end the game and send the Bulldogs on to the semis.

“In these situations, you almost want to play a perfect game,” Eaton said. “We didn’t do that today.”

Cummings finished 2-3 with two runs scored and three RBI, while Grosch finished 2-4 with a pair of runs.

Johnson pitched 4 1/3 innings of relief. He allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

Smith and Potase were both 3-4, with Smith scoring three times and Potase driving in three.

Neugabauer went 5 1/3 and gave up three runs, all earned, on two hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Frantz went 1 2/3, gave up two runs, both earned, and got all five outs via strikeout.

– – –

MEADVILLE (6)

Rinella, 3b, 3-0-0-0, Frantz, c/p, 3-0-1-0, Mook 1b/c, 4-0-0-0, Wilson, lf, 3-0-1-0, Smith, rf/1b, 4-3-3-0, Knox, ss, 4-0-1-0, Cappellino, 2b, 2-1-1-1, Beck, cr, 0-1-0-0, Potase, cf, 4-0-3-3, Steiner, dh, 2-0-0-0, Team 29-6-9-4

WARREN (5)

Grosch, 3b, 4-2-2-0, Cummings, 1b, 3-2-2-3, Gustafson, 1b, 0-1-0-0, Morrison, c, 4-0-0-0, Baldensperger, cf, 3-0-0-0, Johnson, dh/p, 2-0-0-0, Betts, lf, 2-0-0-0, Balas, rf, 3-0-0-0, Knapp, 2b, 2-0-0-0, Swanson, pr, 0-0-0-0, Rafalski, ss, 3-0-0-0, Team 26-5-4-4

Meadville 013 000 2 – 6 9 1

Warren 000 102 2 – 5 4 2

2b-Smith (M), Cappellino (M), Potase (M). 3b-Smith (M). HR-Cummings (W) 2. WP-Neugabauer. LP-Irwin.

Pitching

Meadville

Neugabauer 5.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K

Frantz 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

Warren

Irwin 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

Hussey 0.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K

Johnson 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K

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