The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

May 6, 2014

Dragons attack early

Lakeside topples Geneva

SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — So much of the game of baseball rides on momentum. The Lakeside Dragons were able to grab the momentum early against Geneva, but had to fight tooth and nail through the final out in order to defeat the Eagles, 8-5, Monday afternoon at Lakeside High School.

Victor Tuttle picked up the win for the Dragons (3-8, 2-4 in Premier Athletic Conference) by going the distance, giving up 5 runs (4 earned) on 9 hits. He fanned 6 while walking 4 and hitting a batter.

The left-hander retired 9 of the first 10 batters he faced before getting banged around in the middle innings. In the last two innings, however, he found his form once again and was able to get the outs needed for the win.

“My release point was going away and I couldn’t really find it,” Tuttle said. “At the end of the game, I brought it back and was able to get the outs I needed. The key for me is to just throw strikes and let my defense take care of things.

“I love these guys, they really come to play and we’re starting to become a team.”

The Lakeside fielding did mishandle a couple of balls in the fourth inning when Geneva (7-6, 3-4) plated 2 runs, but otherwise it made all the plays. The defense also threw out two runners at home plate.

In the third inning, right fielder Ryan Cole fired a rope to catcher Jarred Zeman in plenty of time to nail the Eagles’ Chad Wisburth trying to score. An inning later, Steve Jewell was cut down at the dish when shortstop Matt Lunghuffer took a relay throw from Josh O’Block in left field and fired an absolute perfect strike to Zeman for the out.

“Those 2 key outs really stymied a couple of rallies for them (Geneva),” Lakeside coach John Anservitz said. “Cole made a great throw from right field and then Matt took a relay and just threw a pea right where it had to be. Give Geneva credit, they could have rolled over early when they were down, but they fought back and hit the ball in key situations. Those two plays, if they go the other way could have really changed the momentum.”

The Dragons, playing their first home game of the season due to weather and field conditions, jumped on Eagles starter Jack Frye early for a 3 run first.

Lead-off hitter Caleb Garcia reached on an error, then Tristan Hayford followed with a double to right-center.

After a one out walk to Nick Meola, Zeman delivered a bloop RBI single to left to score Garcia. Josh O’Block hit into a fielder’s choice to score Hayford. Then with Meola at third, O’Block took off for second, the throw from Geneva catcher Brent Bell appeared to be on-time, but was mishandled allowing Meola to score from third.

Frye, along with the Geneva defense settled down however,  retiring the side in order the next two innings.

 Then the Geneva bats got going. Connor DiGiacomo greeted Tuttle with a double to start the fourth inning. Then after John Sanchez reached base on an error, Steve Jewell got the Eagles on the board with an RBI single to plate Digiacamo.

Tuttle retired Justin Adams on a ground ball, then Ryan Nappi got around on a pitch for a double off the fence in left field. The hit scored Sanchez with the second run, before Jewell was gunned down on Lunghuffer’s relay throw to keep  Lakeside up by a run.

The momentum appeared to be swinging the Eagles way. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Frye picked off O’Block for the second out of the inning with nobody on. It looked like the Eagles would have the offense  back at work soon.

Instead the next four Lakeside hitters reached base. Tuttle started the two out uprising with a single to center. Then Cole reached on a misplayed ball at third. Lunghuffer followed with an innocent grounder to third that took a funny bounce at the last second allowing the Dragons to load the bases. Garcia then came up and capitalized on the mishap shooting a line drive back up the middle to score 2 runs and put Lakeside up 5-2. They would tack on one more on a hit by Hayford and seemed to have command back.

Not so, though, with one out in the Geneva fifth and Brandon Kovach and Frye on base, Cigiacamo sent a line drive over the head of Garcia in straight away centerfield for an RBI double, his second double of the game. Frye and Cigiacamo would both later score on wild pitches and the Eagles were back to within a run.

Tuttle however was able to battle through the adversity in the sixth and seventh inning. With two on and two out in the sixth, he got Frye to pop out to the shortstop to get out of trouble.

Then after the Lakeside offense put up two insurance runs courtesy of doubles from himself and Lunghuffer, Tuttle again got the outs he needed with runners on base to end the game.

The Lakeside bullpen was stirring in the middle innings, but Anservitz stayed with his starter.

“Victor has been the ace of our staff all year,” Anservitz said. “I believe in the kid. He was in that spot where with most kids, I probably would have pulled them, but he looked me in the eye and I was going to give him that chance.”

Frye took the loss for Geneva, tossing six innings giving up 8 runs on 9 hits. He struck out 6 and walked 2. Only 5 of the runs were earned.

“We came out a little flat today,” Geneva coach Jared Ziber said. “We’ve been doing that a lot lately. We did battle back, we scored enough runs to win and Jack did what he was asked to do. But you can’t give teams extra outs and that’s what we did today. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, when you give away runs and you’re not going to win.”

Shaffer is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

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