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Dragons come up short against Olean to close regular season

Warren senior second baseman Colby Johnson attempts to turn a double play as Olean’s Nick Crandall bears down on him during the third inning of Wednesday’s game at Legion Field.

The final game of the 2018 regular season wasn’t exactly what the Warren Dragons had in mind, but they certainly have plenty to look forward to.

In a cross-state showdown between two teams with big postseason aspirations, it was Olean, aided by five Warren miscues, that came out on top at Legion Field on Wednesday, 7-4.

“They hit the ball well – they’re 12-2 for a reason,” Warren coach Rick Eaton said of Olean. “We made a couple of mental errors and a couple of physical errors that added to their run total. We were a little flat coming off the big win yesterday (Tuesday against Harbor Creek).”

On the same day the Dragons learned they would be playing Meadville in the D-10 Class 4A quarterfinals on Tuesday, the senior class of Nate Betts, Derek Knapp, Colby Johnson, Adam Irwin and Owen Balas took the field for the final time at home.

Olean, which improved to 13-2 with the win, never trailed in the game, and got on the board early against Knapp, taking advantage of a Warren miscue to get on the board, which was followed by a RBI single off the bat of August Brainard-Brunelle.

The Dragons, who matched Olean’s 11 hits, cut the deficit in half in the second inning, with an RBI double off the bat of Johnson scoring Betts, who walked with one out.

Warren (13-6) made Olean starter Dylan Vincent, a Canisius commit, labor through four innings, as the senior threw 86 pitches.

He gave way to Kyle Crandall, although not before a 2-run single from Jack Dwaileebe made it 4-1 in the third inning and an RBI single from Crandall extended the lead to 5-1.

“They’re a good, solid team, a good hitting team,” Eaton said.

Warren was able to get one more run off Vincent in the fourth. Knapp and Johnson led off with back-to-back singles and Mitch Grosch, who was 2-for-2 with a pair of walks to raise his average to .508, singled to bring in pinch-runner Tyler Gustafson.

“He’s the caliber of pitcher we’re going to see in the playoffs, so it was a good game for us,” Eaton said.

Ryan Rafalski came on in relief of Knapp in the fifth and pitched well, giving up a pair of unearned runs in the sixth inning, striking out four and walking one.

“Pitching wise, it was good,” Eaton said. “We got our pitching in that we wanted to get in. Both pitchers threw well.”

Those runs, however, proved to be a major difference.

Trailing 7-2 going to the bottom of the seventh, Aidan Morrison singled and Lance Baldensperger doubled to put two on with no out.

Following a sacrifice fly from Balas, Betts singled to put two on again, and Johnson’s RBI infield single made it 7-4, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Rafalski.

The sophomore worked a 3-1 count before hitting a ground ball toward the middle that Vincent was able to snare, getting Johnson at second to end the game.

The Dragons will erase this one quickly and look ahead to the playoffs.

Despite being the better seed, Warren will make the two hour trip to Slippery Rock University to battle the Bulldogs at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, the first game of a leadoff tripleheader in 4A, which will be followed by Hickory against the winner of the first round game between Slippery Rock at General McLane game (Friday) and Grove City vs. the winner of Oil City at Fort LeBoeuf in the nightcap.

Harbor Creek will play at UPMC Park on Tuesday against the winner of the Corry at Sharon first round game Friday.

The Warren-Meadville winner will face the Hickory-Slippery Rock/General McLane winner in the semifinals next Friday.

“You always have to plan ahead with your pitching,” Eaton said in reference to the postseason. “Everyone for us has thrown on Tuesday and today. Everybody will be available come Tuesday.”

– – –

OLEAN (7)

Chapman cf 4-2-2-0, Crandall ss-p 4-0-3-2, Vincent p-ss 4-2-0-0, Parr 3b 3-2-3-0, Larue cr 0-0-0-0, Dwaileebe rf 3-0-1-1, Brainard-Brunelle 1b 4-0-1-1, Captio 2b 4-0-0-0, Butler lf 3-1-1-0, Prizel c 3-0-0-0, Totals 32-7-11-4

WARREN (4)

Grosch 3b 2-0-2-1, Cummings 1b 4-0-0-0, Morrison c 4-0-1-0, Arnold cr 0-1-0-0, Baldensperger cf 2-1-1-0, Balas rf 3-0-1-1, Betts lf 3-1-2-0, Knapp p-ss 4-0-1-0, Johnson 2b 4-0-3-1, Irwin dh 2-0-0-0, Rafalski ss-p 2-0-0-0, Gustafson cr 0-1-0-0, Totals 30-4-11-3

Olean 202 102 0 – 7 11 1

Warren 010 100 2 – 4 11 5

2B – Chapman (O), Baldensperger (W), Butler (O), Johnson (W), Brainard-Brunelle (O); WP – Vincent; LP – Knapp; SV – Crandall

Olean

Vincent 4 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO

Crandall 3 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO

Warren

Knapp 4 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO

Rafalski 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO

– – –

JV: Warren 7, Olean 2

The Dragons wrapped up an excellent 13-4-2 campaign with a 7-2 win.

Mitch Grosch and Ben Berdine each went three innings on the mound. Grosch struck out seven and Berdine five, while Ethan Wilson had a tidy 6-pitch inning with a strikeout as well.

Offensively, the Dragons had eight hits, led by Berdine’s two. Berdine, Tyler Gustafson and Micah Passmore all had RBI, while James Swanson scored two runs.

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