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May 12, 2009

 

Leader Westhill trips up Trojans

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

Despite not having its’ A Game going, Homer Central hung tough with OHSL Liberty Division baseball leader Westhill only to have some gutsy pitching by Warrior ace Pat Lemmo and some clutch hitting prove to be the difference.
Michael McMullen had a big two-run homer in the the top of the fourth inning and the Warriors pushed across three key runs in the top of the seventh to post the 8-4 road win to improve to 9-0 in division play, 12-2 overall.
Homer falls to 5-3, 11-3 overall.
“We can’t expect to score 15 or 20 runs every game,” said Westhill coach Bob Weismore. “This was a tough game. Luckily, they (Homer) made some mistakes which gave us a chance to score and we capitalized. We did leave a lot of guys on base, but we capitalized at the right point. It really is a team effort. One guy may have a good game one day, but someone is there to pick him up the next day if he is struggling.”
“Homer has a very good pitcher,” Weismore continued, in reference to Trojan starter Dan Miller. “He throws the ball well and kept us off balance.”
There was another factor that Weismore pointed to as well for his Warriors not being as sharp as usual.
“Our biggest enemy may have been having three days off,” he chuckled. “We had our prom Friday, so the guys were off (from baseball) Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We won’t do that again.”
As for Lemmo, who went the distance scattering three hits, four walks and striking out six Trojan batters.
“He is a D-I pitcher if he concentrated more on baseball,” said Weismore. “He is a well-rounded student. He’s vice-president of the National Honor Society. He is narrowing his choices down to a few D-3 schools, including Ithaca College.”
For Homer coach Robert Nasiatka, it was another game where is guys battled a very good team.
“It was just like the Bishop Ludden game,” said Nasiatka “We are right where we want to be, but we can’t get over that seventh inning hump. It is something we need to work on.
“Does it show we can compete down the road in sectionals?” he continued. “Yes. To battle Westhill and their best pitcher 4-4 into the sixth inning, 5-4 into the seventh is good. Do I like to lose? No, but it shows these guys that they can battle and that is a good sign. The true sign will be how we bounce back Wednesday.”
Miller went six-plus innings with five strikeouts, four walks and eight hits surrendered. The senior saw two Westhill runners on base in the first inning and again in the second, but got out of trouble. That didn’t happen in the top of the third inning.
McMullen walked and moved to second on a wild pitch. A flyout to medium centerfield allowed McMullen to reach third base. With two outs, Ryan Malley (2-for-3) singled to centerfield and McMullen scored the first ruin of the game. An error allowed Malley to reach third base and Lemmo scooted to second base. Another wild pitch allowed Malley to score for a 2-0 Westhill lead.
Homer answered in the bottom of the third. Ricky Newman led off the inning with a walk. With two outs, Zach Blanden (2-for-4) hit a home run over the right field fence to knot the score at 2-2.
The Warriors used the long ball in the fourth inning to regain the lead. Dan Karleski (2-for-5) got an beat out a grounder to second base, but the result throwing error allowed him to move to second. McMullen followed with a towering two-run home run to left-centerfield for a 4-2 Westhill advantage.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Trojans loaded the bases. K.J. Reese walked. Newman followed with a sacrifice bunt. The throw was wide and both runners were safe. Brandon Simonetta singled and loaded the bases. With one out, Blanden singled to right-centerfield which scored Reese and Newman and moved Simonetta to third. On the throw to the plate, Blanden hustled to second base. After a quick mound conference, Lemmo got tan infield pop-up and ground out to end the inning.
The winning run came in the top of the sixth inning. Karleski got an infield single deep in the hole at shortstop. He stole second base and was hit by a perfect throw from Trojan catcher Zach Randolph that struck the runner at he stepped on second base. Neither the shortstop nor second base could get to the throw and the ball caromed away, allowing Karleski to race to third base. Karleski then crossed the plate after a wild pitch for a 5-4 Warrior lead.
The insurance runs in the seventh gave Westhill some breathing room. Mike DeCarr led off with a double that just eluding Zach Blanden’s glove. Malley bounced a single up the middle off of Miller’s glove to score DeCarr. Newman came on the pitch for the Trojans, Pinch-runner Len Graf stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Lemmo walked and stole second. With one out, Nate Nigolian hit a sacrifice fly that allowed Graf to score and Lemmo moved up to third base. Lemmo would score on a passed ball.
Lemmo retired the Trojans 1-2-3 in the seventh to end the game.
Nasiatka knows it was a couple of key mistakes and some luck that really turned this game in Westhill’s favor.
“We did have some mistakes made by some people that don’t usually make those mistakes,” said Nasiatka. “But, look at the seventh inning. A bloop double and a tipped ball off the glove of Miller. If we get out of that, it is still a 5-4 game and a a completely different game.
“Dan pitched well,” he continued. “Ricky came in and pitched well. Our goal is to grow for this and to make the changes you need to make.”
Homer will be back in action Wednesday traveling to Solvay for Liberty Division play at 4:30 p.m.