SULLIVAN TWP. — Greg Maust picked up his first win of the season in style Friday.
The Brookside junior held Black River to just two hits, while striking out seven and walking three in a 3-0 shutout in Patriot Athletic Conference play.
The win was the Cardinals’ third in a row as they improved to 4-4, 2-2. The Pirates fell to 2-6, 1-3.
“Greg has been a workhorse for us,” first-year Brookside coach Brad Bomback said. “He’s had two starts prior to this, but he hadn’t had a win yet because we just haven’t had the offense at that point. Today, we had a few timely hits and got some runs in, and that finally got him the support that he needed.”
Maust got off to an rough beginning, hitting the first two batters and allowing Black River to load the bases with two outs. However, he coaxed a fielder’s choice ground out to second to end the threat, and he settled down from there.
Aaron Conley broke up the no-hit bid with a leadoff double in the bottom of the fourth. Conley, however, was caught stealing third after a botched bunt attempt by Nick Morrow, and Maust wound up facing the minimum in that inning.
The Pirates did threaten in the fifth and sixth innings, putting two runners on in each. However, Maust — with some help from his defense — got out of both jams unscathed.
The big one came in the sixth. After back-to-back walks put runners on first and second with one out, Maust got reserve Ted Bowersock to pop up to short. The umpire called Bowersock out under the infield fly rule, which allowed the runners to advance. However, Brookside shortstop Hunter Skolnicki alertly tagged Conley for an unassisted double play to end the threat.
“My fastball was moving, and I had a good curveball,” Maust said. “I was able to move the ball around the plate and keep their hitters off-balance. My defense and my offense came together today and we were able to have a good game.
“(Black River) has good hitters. But my defense made some great plays behind me when we needed them to. I have to give the credit to them.”
Brookside broke the scoreless tie with a run in the second, after Pirates second baseman Nick Filak dropped a two-out liner off the bat of Josh Bomback, and the ball caromed off his glove into right field. Tim Crnko, who had a two-out single and took second on a passed ball, scored on the error to make it 1-0.
It stayed that way until the fifth, when Brookside put together another two-out rally that gave Maust some insurance.
With leadoff hitter Ryan Blotzer on second after a walk and a stolen base, Skolnicki, Phil Donelan and Cameron Drew delivered back-to-back-to-back singles to make it 3-0.
“I know these guys can hit, and we’ve been working on getting more aggressive at the plate,” Bomback said. “I told them, ‘If we put the ball in play and make guys make plays, we’re gonna do well.’ We just have to put the bat on the ball and make them make plays.
“I’ve been real proud of them. Our bats are coming around. We’re playing virtually mistake-free baseball. We’re definitely putting everything together.”
The hits also chased Black River starter Jackson Weinzatl (0-2) from the game. Weinzatl scattered six hits and three runs (two earned) in 4⅔ innings, striking out five.
“Our pitching was great,” Black River coach Dozier Hendershot said. “That’s two games in a row where we’ve been really tough, pitching-wise. But a couple of mishaps defensively cost us.
“We just can’t find a way to get a clutch hit, and our baserunning lately has been not good. If we’re going to keep making mistakes like this, it’s going to be rough for us.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.