The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

June 10, 2014

One more time

County’s seniors take to the diamond for a final game

JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP — Cotton Field at the Havens Baseball Complex in Jefferson has seen some great ballgames since coming to the community several years ago. Monday afternoon, a group of outgoing seniors from county schools got together for one last game in front of home fans, but with several odd occurrences taking place in the Ashtabula County Senior All-Star Game. The oddities came down to a simple fly ball as the Deuces rallied in the bottom of the sixth inning to claim a 14-13 win over the Erasers.

The strangeness began with the teams taking the field with just 8 players each and using the same dugout and continued on with the boys playing unconventional positions leading to some strange plays in the game.

After the Erasers rallied with a 5-run sixth to take a 13-12 lead, it came down to Jefferson’s Steve Houser to secure a win and hold the Deuces at bay.

It didn’t happen.

Caleb Garcia of Lakeside led off the bottom of the sixth with his fourth hit of the game, a ringing line drive to center. Conneaut’s Mike Teed followed with a similar drive into the gap between the 2 outfielders that went for a triple, tying the game at 13-13. Jefferson’s Joe Piscsalko promptly brought home the game-winner with a high fly ball to left field. It was caught easily enough, but the throw home didn’t arrive nearly on time, and after these 16 friends and serious competitors in high school days had played a game of sillyball most of the day, a few seriously good plays brought the lid down on their careers.

Garcia told his teammates as he led off the sixth, “I’m gonna hit a home run. It’s my time, I can just feel it coming.”

He did hit the ball hard for that single, though.

“I had a lot of fun today,” he said.

His teammate, Nick Meola, after a senior year of injury and disappointment in dealing with it, was happy.

“It was definitely worth playing here today,” the future Dayton tight end said. “It was disappointing to miss so much football and almost all of basketball this year, but I took care of myself and did what I had to do to play some baseball, and today made it all worthwhile.”

While not your classic all-star game, there were some solid efforts along with all the fun. The kids didn’t have to deal with strict coaches leading them, although Jefferson’s Scott Barber did get in some good zingers at times when it seemed appropriate.

As the game ended, the smile on his face as he gathered with all the players on the field said it all.

“This was all about a good bunch of kids having fun, and we sure did,” he said.

The Erasers got off to a fast start with 4 first-inning runs. With 1 out, a walk and single set up a 2-run double by Geneva’s Connor DiGiacomo. Meola followed with a triple to left that nearly corkscrewed the left fielder into the turf before rolling to the fence. Victor Tuttle of Lakeside grounded out to plate Meola and it looked like it could be one of those long games.

Garcia answered by reaching on a passed ball on a third strike for the Deuces in the bottom of the first and after the first of his pair of steals, Teed drove him home with a double, stole third, and Piscsalko grounded out to cut the lead in half, 4-2.

Things stabilized until the bottom of the fourth. Down 6-3, The Deuces had 4 straight hitters reach base, and, with the only fielding miscues of the game figuring in, 4 more Deuces’ runs came across, capped by a single to center by Cole Erdel of Jefferson.

Of the 4 home runs in the game, only 1 went over the fence, and that was a 2-run shot down the right-field line by Meola in the fifth that gave the visitors their second lead of the game at 8-7.

Geneva’s Justin Adams came on and induced Phil Yan of Geneva to ground to third. In a tactical move, Adams made his first pitch an underhand effort to throw off the timing of Yan, and it threw everybody off kilter. Getting back to normal, Garcia doubled, a hit batter and walk were next, and Ryan Zindash of Jefferson cleared the bases with another double. Erdel homered for 2 more runs, and a 12-8 Deuces lead looked oddly safe.

Two-run homers for DiGiacomo and Tuttle keyed the 5-run sixth that took the lead back for the Erasers. Then came the finale.

“This was a lot of fun,” DiGiacomo said. “It’s a good way to finish off our senior years, too, even if we only had 8 players on each team.”

He had 3 hits, scored 3 times, and drove home 4 runs. He also was involved in a spectacular defensive play in the third inning. Leading off, Piscsalko sent a screamer between first and second. DiGiacomo dove to spear the ball, but his toss while off balance went wide for a throwing error, and it led to the only run of the frame on a triple by Edgewood’s Joey Zappitelli.

Meola scored 3 times on 3 hits with 3 RBI, and Tuttle drove home 3 runs as well.

The top 2 guys in the Deuces lineup each tallied 4 times. Garcia had 4 hits to go with a pair of steals, and Teed, in addition to being the only pitcher to record a 1-2-3 inning on the hill, tallied 4 with 3 hits and 2 RBI.

Piscsalko scored 3, Zindash drove home 3 with 2 hits and 2 runs, and Erdel plated 4 runners with his 2 hits.

Ethan Pawlowski, also a do-it-all guy in this game, “had a lot of fun today, and that’s all I cared about for this game.”

Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.

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