May 11, 2010
Trojans awakening tops CHS
Homer Central baseball coach Rob Nasiatka was talking Monday afternoon about how his team has had the habit of getting off to a slow start in games this season.
“We’re not a good wakeup team,” he said, “and we need to get over that before sectionals start, providing we get in. We tend to get going about the third inning. It’s like our hitters smell blood, and a ‘We can hit this pitcher’ mentality gets going. This is a very, very young team, and it’s nice to see them do that. It’s been a nice season, and hopefully we can keep this roll going.”
The Trojans, who trailed host Cortland High 2-0 after one inning and 4-2 after three at Beaudry Park, woke up with a vengeance. They pulled to within a run, at 4-3, after four innings before exploding for six runs in the fifth inning, when they sent 10 men to the plate, en route to a 10-4 OHSL Freedom Division triumph over their rivals.
Homer improves to 5-6 in league play and 7-7 overall.
For Cortland coach John Tobin, whose team dipped to 4-5 in the league and 5-7 overall, the long game on a chilly afternoon had a familiar look to it.
“We just don’t make the plays,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s the same old story. We gave them too many outs and they took advantage of it. Right now we’re not making the plays.”
The prime example to support Tobin were the three CHS errors in the decisive fifth frame.
“Homer did a nice job of staying in the game early. That’s a nice young team,” added Tobin. “They scratched for everything they got and put some good at-bats together. We felt good at the start of the game, but when it went south things started to snowball. I think the kids panic a little; they just have to relax and get outs.”
Homer’s offensive outburst came as starter and winner Brent Quinlan was giving a strong pitching performance to improve to 2-1 on the season, the sophomore giving up five hits and just two earned runs with eight strikeouts in five innings of work. Reliever Zach Blanden came on after Cortland had put men on second and third in the sixth — on a walk and a double to left by Brycen Dunn — and retired the next six batters in a row, three via strikeout, to finish the game.
“Quinlan pitched great again,” Nasiatka said. “We’ve been able to keep him on the shelf, working on different pitches,. This was just his second start of the season. We worked him in as he’s getting used to going from JV to varsity.”
“When the offense gets going, we get pumped,” said Quinlan, who also has three saves this season, “so it didn’t bother me that much to be behind. It makes it more special for me that this win came against Cortland.”
“Quinlan pitched fine, but he was wild high and we helped him a bunch,” Tobin said.
THE HOSTS DIDN’T waste any time taking an early lead. Quinlan nicked leadoff man Tony Whitt with a pitch to start the first, and after he was sacrificed to second by Brian Hughes Whitt took third on a wild pitch and scored when the throw to third from the catcher went into left field. Justin Burns singled to right one out later, stole second and came home when a fly ball to right by Brandon Watkins was mishandled for a two-base error.
Homer came back to tie the score in the top of the third. Blanden doubled to the rightfield fence with one out and took third on an infield error that allowed Mike Hartnett to reach first safely. Hartnett then stole second and Blanden in turn stole home on the late throw to try to get Hartnett, who subsequently scored on a single to center by Andy Parker.
Cortland retook the lead at 4-2 in the bottom of the third. Alex Stacy, who started and took the mound loss for CHS, walked with two outs, right after Homer centerfielder Kevin McNeil had made a spectacular diving catch of a line drive to left-center by Hughes. Burns then reached on an infield error, Stacy going to third on the play, and they both came home when Watkins doubled off the leftfield fence.
Homer got one run back in her fourth as Alex Nelson walked, went around to third in a pair of wild pitches and finally scored on a single to left by Blanden.
Parker led off the winners’ big fifth inning by ripping a single just inside third base and down the leftfield line, and advanced to third on two more wild pitches. McNeil then reached on an infield error to put men on first and third before Kash, who fouled off six pitches with two strikes on him, finally singled to right to score Parker. Quinlan reached on an infield error to load the bases, at which point Burns came in to relieve Stacy.
Alex Nelson greeted him with a two-run single to right, and after the next two batters struck out Blanden beat out an infield single to load the bases. Hartnett then stroked a two-run single to left before a wild pitch scored Blanden with the final run of the inning, making it 9-4 for the Trojans.
CHS LEFT TWO men on in the bottom of the fifth and mounted the aforementioned sixth-inning threat before Blanden came on to finish things up. Homer loaded the bases on Tony Whitt, the third Purple Tiger pitcher of the contest, to start the sixth before he retired the next three batters. Blanden’s lead-off home run to left in the seventh, his third round-tripper of the season, closed out the scoring and wrapped up his 4-for-5 day at the plate with the homer, a double, two RBIs and three runs scored.
“I always try to get my pitch, get on base and help the team,” the junior said. “That’s what a leadoff man is supposed to do. When we get down, we just keep battling. For some reason, we seem to always get in a hole the first few innings, then the bats spark us and we start playing better defense. It’s a cumulative response.
“We’re used to it; it’s how we play. Somehow we seem to spark at the same time, and we ride on our bats.”
In addition to Blanden, McNeil went 2-for-4 with a run and Parker was 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run for the winners. Watkins finished 2-for-4 with the double and two RBIs for CHS.
Both teams were slated for league road games this afternoon, Homer visiting Fowler and Cortland traveling to Mexico. Both are then home on Thursday, Cortland against Jamesville-DeWitt at 4:30 p.m. and Homer against Fulton at 4:45 p.m. in the Trojans’ Coaches vs. Cancer game.
CORTLAND JVs rolled past Homer 15-5 to improve to 7-3 on the season. The Purple Tigers broke open a 3-3 game with four runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and seven in the seventh. Cody Cranston went 4-for-5 with a triple, double, three RBIs and two runs, while Connor Griffin went 3-for-5 with three doubles, two RBIs and three runs, winning pitcher Cory Broyles was 2-for-5 with two doubles and four runs and Justin Sidebottom was 2-for-4.
Broyles fanned eight batters over the first five innings and reliever Sidebottom had three strikeouts in two innings as they combined on a six-hitter.
Dylan Shattuck had a triple for Homer (3-7), while Nate Cole and Connor L’Hommedieu both doubled.
Cortland is at Mexico today, while Homer visits Fowler.
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