By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP —
When Ryan Zindash knocked down Edgewood 1-2-3 in the first inning Thursday afternoon, it looked like the Warriors and Falcons were headed for a pitchers’ duel.
The complete opposite happened, as Jefferson took a quick lead, saw it disappear then came back with a pair of runs in the bottom if the sixth to get the win, 9-7.
“We’re still a pretty young team, even though all the kids have gotten good seasoning this year,” Warriors coach Bill Lipps said. “There was a lot of good hitting today, and that is because both teams went and did what their hitting coaches teach them. We’ve got Lou Wisnyai here and Scott Barber with Jefferson, they’re probably two of the best players to come out of Ashtabula County. We have a rich history of baseball here, and they both have a wealth of wisdom to share with kids.
“It showed in this game.”
“I was really pleased with our approach at the plate today,” Barber said. “We did some very good things when we had opportunities. That’s a good thing for us as we prepare for our first tournament game Monday here against Orange.”
The two run-sixth that broke a 7-7 tie was typical of Jefferson (14-6, 8-2 in All American Conference) this season. Joey Piscsalko ripped a line-drive single to right center leading off. Kyle Ashburn followed with a single to right, and they moved up into scoring position on a wild pitch. Chris Wittenmyer delivered them both with a ringing shot over the left fielder’s head.
Ethan Pawlowski, who moved to the mound to start the sixth inning and quickly saw a 7-4 Falcon lead disappear, ended up as the winning pitcher.
Key hitting proved to be important for both teams, but especially in a positive way for the Falcons.
In ripping 14 hits, including five for extra bases, they got big hits early in taking a 5-0 lead after two innings.
Piscsalko led the way with three safeties, Scott Davidson had a pair, including a double and two-run triple in the second, Wittenmyer had a pair of hits, as did Ashburn, and Zindash did as well.
Defense did come into play in the contest, too.
The Warriors loaded the bases four times, but could only score three in the third and another in the fourth in that situation.
Zindash successfully escaped a first and third with no out spot in the second that did see the bags jammed. A spectacular running catch in short center by Piscsalko recorded the second out of the inning, and Matt Barber collared a foul pop up to end it without any damage.
A walk, one of five issued by Zindash, and pair of singles, aided by an error in center field, tallied the first Warrior run.
Tony Magda drove home the second with a single to center, and Nick Johnson got the third home with a fly to deep left.
After a pair of walks to lead off the fourth ended Zindash’s day on the hill, Colton Wilber entered and was greeted by a single by Andrew Graeb to tie the score at 4.
A sacrifice fly by Ashburn and single by Barber broke the tie until the Warrior sixth.
Then came the Falcon sixth.
“We really hit the ball tonight, didn’t we?” Barber asked. “So did Edgewood, and it came down to good plays on defense for us.”
Possibly the key to making sure the Warriors didn’t get momentum came in the fourth.
After the first pair of hitters walked against Zindash, Wilber gave up a single for a run. Another walk loaded the bags with nobody out. Louie Wisnyai drilled a shot at first baseman Barber.
He immediately fired home to Jesse Skvarek for a forceout then the Falcon catcher caught Graeb as he slipped rounding third, completing the unconventional double play, and Magda flied to right to close the frame.
Matt DiDonato had four hits for Edgewood (12-6), Connor McLaughlin, Wisnyai and Al Graeb each had a pair as Edgewood ripped a dozen hits.
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.