May 28, 2011
Trojans beat Bears to reach semifinals
Simonetta tosses 3-hitter in Class A victory
Good pitching and timely hitting keyed a crucial sectional baseball win for Homer Central on Friday.
Tyler Simonetta tossed no-hit ball for five innings and Zach Blanden became the school’s all-time hits leader as the third-seed Trojans posted a 5-2 Section 3 Class A quarterfinal win over sixth-seed Chittenango.
After making the most of just four base hits — including home runs by Blanden and Zephan Kash — Homer traveled to second-seed Whitesboro (17-3) this morning for a semifinal contest. That first pitch was slated for 11 a.m.
“I can’t say enough about Tyler’s performance,” Homer coach Robert Nasiatka said of starter Simonetta. “I was a little worried because they saw him just a week ago, but he showed them something different today. He worked backwards against them. I give a lot of credit to assistant coaches Mike Gimblette and Kyle Lumpkin for that. They worked the batters hard, knowing their tendencies. Tyler was just magnificent today. He really looked sharp.
“If we are to move on, I now have six rested arms to pick from tomorrow against Whitesboro. It was nice to get the win because a lot of people said we could get to sectionals, but we can’t win in sectionals. Well, we won one today,” he added.
Simonetta lost the no-hit bid when Nic Bacon led off the top of the sixth inning with a single. Bacon’s hit triggered a three-hit inning as Chittenango scored two unearned runs.
With Bacon on third and two outs, Wes Burghardt bunted up the third base line, Simonetta bare-handed the ball and threw wide-right to first baseman Kash, who stretched but had the ball tip off the end of his glove. As the ball rolled away, Bacon raced home and Burghardt went to second. Losing pitcher Greg Jasek then hit a double to centerfield to score Burghardt for the Bears’ other run.
Until that point, Simonetta kept Chittenango off-balance with his multiple arm-angled releases and mixed speeds. When he struck out Erik Kurz for the final out of the third inning, Simonetta notched his 50th fanning this season. He finished with seven strikeouts and one walk in the game.
“I just threw the ball,” Simonetta said. “I have a good defense behind me and they take care of anything that is hit. It was more crucial for me to complete this playoff game and save our other pitchers so we can continue to do what we need to do.
“I never figured I would be 7-0 at this point,” he added of his pitching record for this season. “I thought I would do okay, but I didn’t think seven straight wins. I’m excited for the next game I pitch now.”
SIMONETTA BEGAN THE game Thursday with a 1-2-3 first inning and Trojan senior Ethan Forster had a 3-2 count when the umpires suspended the game because of thunder, lightning and rain.
Chittenango starting pitcher Jeff Pierce threw one pitch to strike out Forster as play resumed today and was then replaced by Jasek.
With two outs, Kash belted a solo home run over the left field fence as the Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Homer added two runs in the third with the aid of three Chittenango errors. With one out, Forster hit a fly ball towards right field that was dropped and he wound up at second base. Blanden followed with a double off the centerfield fence, but because centerfielder Devin Christopher looked like he could possibly catch the ball Forster had to hold at second until he saw the ball hit the ground before advancing to third base. Kash was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Andy Parker hit a ground ball to shortstop. Burghardt scooped the ball and raced to second for the force as Forster scored from third. Burghardt tried for the double play, but his rushed throw bounced past Mike Moon and out of play. That allowed Blanden to score and Parker went to second.
The third error of the inning came when Kurz tried to throw behind Parker at second base and the ball sailed by second baseman Bacon. Parker moved to third base, but never scored.
Blanden’s double was the 97th hit of his career and moved him past Tim Wern (1982-85) for the number one spot.
With a 3-0 lead, the Trojans added two final runs in the fifth inning. Simonetta singled and scored on Blanden’s one-out homer over the left-centerfield fence. When Blanden crossed the plate, he tied Wern for the most runs scored in a career with 80.
“Records are nice, but I never go into a game thinking I want to break a record,” Blanden said. “I just want to win every day. If a break a record, so be it.”
“ZACH HAS HAD a great career,” Nasiatka said of senior Bladen. “He has helped us for three years with his bat, his glove and his arm. He’s been a great role model for the younger kids.
“If you really look at three guys I’m going to miss next year, there were all key today,” he added. “That would be Tyler, Zephan and Zach. There are three seniors who did everything needed today to win the game.”
In this crazy season, the Trojans now face another back-to-back game day.
“Sometimes I think we play better on the second day,” Blanden said. “I’m not to worried about that. Whitesboro was here today and did get to see us play. That could be detrimental for our game plans tomorrow, but we just wait and see.”
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