JEFFERSON — The Cowle Post 151 18U Dugout Bruisers quickly seized control

of their own American

Legion tournament on Friday in Jefferson.

The Bruisers kicked off the round-robin tournament with a 12-2 mercy-rule victory over Edinboro Post 489. In their second game of the day, the team jumped out to an early lead over Sandusky Post 83 and survived a late scare to win 5-3.

“We knew coming in that this was going to be the better of the two teams, we knew we were going to have to battle,” Nick Stoltz, a recent Geneva graduate, said after the second victory. “So, it was kind of nice to get a warm-up game in the morning, get the bats going and everything and that’s what won us this game. The runs we put up early, we needed every one of them.”

Stoltz led off the game with a double that deflected off the third-base bag. Ryan Boruszkowski knocked in the former Eagle with a single and came around to score on a base hit off the bat of Zachary Houghtaling.

Logan Newell, a 2019 Grand Valley graduate, smacked a ball to center field to drive in Houghtaling, but was thrown out at third to end the inning.

Recent Edgewood graduate Jacob Zappitelli scored a run in the second and, in the third, a pair of former Mustangs manufactured the team’s fifth when Newell plated Nick Reichek, who led off the inning with a triple.

Facing a 3-0 deficit in its first at-bat of the game, Sandusky loaded the bases with no outs via two bloopers and a hit-by-pitch. Stoltz, the game two starter, escaped the inning

with only one run on the board, thanks in large part to a one-out double play — with runners on first and second.

Reichek fielded a hard-hit grounder at third, stepped on the base and fired the ball across the diamond to end the inning.

“That’s how we drew it up,” Stoltz said with a laugh.

The future Baldwin Wallace baseball player struck out the first two batters of the second and did not allow a base hit until he was

removed with two outs in the third inning to keep his pitch count below 45 — so he is eligible to throw again on Sunday.

“Coming in, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to throw, I was a little sore, but I threw,” he said. “It didn’t start the way we wanted it to, but we figured it out and started to find it a little bit at the end. That’s a good team, we’ll see them again.”

Ian Barnes, Kevin Spehar, Jon Susnik and Newell teamed up to finish the game on the mound.

With two games today and at least one Sunday in addition to a potential championship bid, preserving arms was key for coach Joe Zappitelli.

Only one pitcher will not be able to throw again this weekend due to pitch count.

“Winning the game was most important, but No. 2 was making sure that … what we want to do is get through the first day and have most of our pitchers still available,” Zappitelli said. “With the heat, especially, it’s a little harder to manage your staff. Fatigue is setting in a little bit too, but yeah, it definitely is important to have some depth in the pitching staff.”

From the plate, Reichek and Boruszkowski led the way with four hits on the day and both scored three runs. Reichek also drove in two.

Stoltz and Susnik each collected three hits and three runs. Zappitelli drove in

three runs and scored one.

Newell went 2-for-3 and drew two walks and a catcher’s interference.

He drove in four runs and even managed to reach base safely on the only out he made — a run-scoring fielder’s choice.

The Bruisers are scheduled to take on Meadville Post 111 at 10 a.m. today and Wayne County Post 68 three hours later.

They will take on Millcreek Post 773 at 10 a.m. Sunday and the championship game will be played later that day at 4 p.m.

“We gotta win this,” Stoltz said of the tournament. “(Sandusky is) one of the better teams, we’re going to see Wayne County or something, they’re the other team to beat. We took care of one and gotta take care of the other and then win the thing.”