AVON — The ability to take a punch and bounce back quickly isn’t just an essential virtue in boxing, but also a valuable team skill in baseball with its staccato waves of momentum.
Avon demonstrated this point Saturday afternoon as they responded to each shot administered by North Olmsted to secure a 6-5 victory in non-league play.
It may have made sense that a meeting by two teams named Eagles would result in almost mirror image performances as both teams scratched and scraped to score and advance runners while relying on fairly effective pitching with a few quirks thrown in.
The teams exchanged a pair of one-run innings before North Olmsted (7-4-1) spackled together a two run sixth that included a dropped third strike, a wild pitch, a hit batsman and a passed ball. Those developments were capped by pinch hitter Tommy Sullivan’s RBI liner to right that boosted the visitors to a 4-2 lead.
Not to be outdone in the “quirky inning” competition, Avon (7-3) roared back to score four runs on four hits in its half thanks to a two-RBI, bases-loaded, game-tying single by senior Brian Baker. And just for good measure, there was a botched strikeout, a sacrifice fly and sophomore Jeff Laraway hustling down the line to turn a sacrifice bunt into a bunt single.
“I just had some runners on and I knew that we were down so I had to take my opportunity to knock them in,” said Baker, who had two hits, as did senior Jonny Morales. “We’ve always tried to be sure that we can beat them every inning. So every inning we come out so that if they score we try and top that each time.”
North Olmsted kept Avon’s winning pitcher Jeff Laraway honest in the top of the seventh by pushing across a run before Laraway shut the door.
“It’s good to see us respond when they do come out and put up a couple of run,” Avon coach Frank DeSmit said. “We got some clutch hits, we’ve done a nice job of getting guys on and trying to get into good hitter counts. And I told the guys that I hope we’re going to be one of those teams that starts to swing it better as the weather heats up.”
North Olmsted’s occasional miscue proved to be fatal in a game this close against such a similar opponent.
“There isn’t ever any rally that doesn’t have a walk or an error in the middle of it, and we were 100 percent on that score,” North Olmsted coach Tim Murphy said.
However, North Olmsted’s silver lining may come in the form of junior starting pitcher Dan Krull. Making his first varsity start, Krull threw four impressive innings, allowing an earned run and demonstrating some pinpoint control and impressive breaking pitches.
“He was really sharp,” Murphy said. “He threw awfully well. His pitch count wasn’t all that high, but he was supposed to pitch Tuesday and we got rained out.
“We did OK. We moved runners around OK. We did get picked off. … It was one of those games. But it was a good day. I got to use a lot of guys that we don’t use everyday in some different positions and that’s what Saturdays are for.”
Contact Fred Steiner at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.