By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
ANDOVER TOWNSHIP —
Things had been rolling well for the Grand Valley Mustangs early in the 2013 baseball season. Then, Friday afternoon, the Pymatuning Valley Lakers put it all together in an 8-0 Laker win over the Mustangs.
In the second meeting, this time at PV, on Tuesday afternoon, it took a tad longer for the Lakers to open things up, but when they did —with a six run fourth inning — it was more than enough to finish GV again, this time, 11-1.
“Again, as we did the other day, we got timely hitting,” PV coach Nathan Smith said. “We also got a great pitching effort from Darren (Petrowski). He kept his composure the whole game. He could have lost focus after that first inning, but he didn’t, he threw strikes, and he is finally fitting into his position in our rotation with Hunter (Rhoades).”
Rhoades kept the Mustangs off balance with a wide assortment of breaking balls on Friday, and Petrowski did it in this game, too, but the key was a six-run fourth inning when the Lakers (4-6, 4-3 in the Northeastern Athletic Conference) broke open a 1-1 tie.
Mason Lipani got it going with a bloop to center. Collin Winkler sent a shot up the middle, but the shortstop was able to barely snare it bur his throw to first was wide, putting runners on second and third. Petrowski sent another bloop to left-center to score the tie breaking runs.
Four hits, two more errors, and six runners crossed the plate in the inning.
Meanwhile, Petrowski was mowing down Mustang hitters, allowing four hits and an unearned run while walking only one and fanning six.
“I thought that Kyle (Orgovan) did a great job of keeping the ball down in the strike zone early in the game,” Mustang coach Russ Bell said. “Pymatuning Valley is on a roll right now, and you can’t give them too many opportunities to score. We did in that big inning, and it was pretty big for them as well to get out of that first inning for us like they did.”
Heath Martin singled with one out in the top of the first. With two outs, an error at third base and another in center field gave the Mustangs their first run, but Petrowski induced a liner to third to end the frame, and the best GV (8-6, 6-3 in NAC) was able to muster after that was runners at first and second in the second with one out.
A sharp grounder to shortstop Jon Burford led to a forceout at second, but his throw was wide of first baseman Mason Lipani.
In a daring move to get something going, though, the runner from second never slowed down, and an alert Lipani pounced on the errant throw from Burford and fired home to Travis Kiser to complete an unconventional inning-ending double play.
GV never had more than a single runner in an inning the rest of the way, and when PV loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth with nobody out and a 9-1 lead, all it took was a single to right-center by pinch-hitter Rhoades to end the game.
“I’ve been telling the kids all along,” Smith, in his first year at PV said, “that all we need to do to get rolling is to take advantage of the other teams mistakes. We need to jump on them whenever we can. The kids have hit well the last week, and things are falling together for us.”
Travis Kiser had a pair of hits and three RBI. Tim Cross scored two with a pair of hits, Chase Thurber had a pair of hits, including a double leading off the bottom of the sixth. Lipani and Winkler each scored twice, and Petrowski and Rhoades each had two RBI.
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.