Maynard closes out Barton
By KIM NORTH
Times Leader Sports Writer
CRESCENT – In do-or-die games, it’s usually the player that you wouldn’t expect that takes a step forward and leads his team to victory.
Enter Logan Hudson.
Monday night, Maynard’s righthander started Game 2 of the best-of-3 Steele and Cook Insurance Ohio Valley Baseball League playoff quarterfinal series with Barton. However, the Shadyside product never made it out of the third inning and was tagged for five runs and seven hits on 65 pitches.
One night later, the Wheeling Jesuit University junior-to-be pitched his team to the semifinals with a gutsy mound effort as fifth-seeded Maynard eliminated the No. 4 seed and defending champion Braves, 7-2, on sun-drenched Henning Field.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to do it, but I did,” Hudson said. “I didn’t have my best stuff (Monday), but you can’t have your best stuff every day. Last night was a fluke.”
With the cherished victory over its long-time rival, Maynard sets a date with the top-seeded Wheeling Cardinals. The game is scheduled for tonight at 6 at Kovalick Field on the campus of West Liberty University. The Cardinals (18-4) ousted No. 8 Shadyside (5-16) by a 3-0 count Tuesday.
The other semifinal tonight has No. 3 Lafferty (18-5) treking to Edwin J. Bowman Field to meet second-seeded Weirton (18-4). Game 2 of each series will resume Friday at Lafferty and Maynard, respectively. Should a Game 3 be needed, those games would played Sunday at undetermined locations at 1 p.m.
“We knew we needed to win this series,” Hudson allowed. “Now we can focus on the next round and get ready to go.”
Deadlocked at two after three innings, Maynard took advantage of a pair of costly errors by Barton, one in the fourth that allowed two runs to score, and another in the sixth that resulted in two more tallies.
Laney Simone Jr. drilled a leadoff single to left in the fourth. He was sacrificed to second by Michael Androsko. A D.J. Busby single to center moved Simone to third. He would jog home on a double to left field by Mark Cisar. Zach Kinnick then roped a shot to Anthony Rocchio at second for out No. 2, but Rocchio’s throw to third attempting to double-up Busby was off the mark and sailed out of play, allowing both runners to score for a 5-2 cushion.
Androsko lined a single up the middle with one out in the sixth. He hustled to third on Cisar’s single to left-center, and the throw skipped past third baseman T.J. Sliva and rolled towards the Barton bench where losing pitcher Mike Muklewicz made a valiant effort to stop the ball, but it bounced over him and out of play, allowing Androsko to score and Cisar to take third. Kinnick laced a single to center to cap Maynard’s scoring.
“You can’t throw the ball around like that, but the guys were trying to make plays,” Barton manager Billy Timko explained. “You can’t fault them for that. That’s the way the game of baseball goes.
“Maynard played really good baseball … for that matter, the entire series was very well played,” Timko added. “After I got thrown out (Monday) I got to see the game from the fan’s perspective. Wow, what great baseball this is.”
Busby started the game with a Baltimore-chop infield single and raced to third on another two-bagger by Cisar, this one to the left field corner, for a 1-0 lead.
The Braves (15-8) answered with a run in their first at-bat when Jourden Yager tripled on the first pitch he saw and trotted home when Dustin Hynes dropped a single behind shortstop with one out.
Androsko’s infield single off Muklewicz’s glove with two outs in the second allowed Ryan Jarvie to score, making it 2-1. Jarvie led off with a walk, went to second on a wild pitch and took third on a groundout.
Barton evened things in the third as Nick Rocchio smacked a leadoff single to left. A groundout moved him to second. With two outs, he stole third, and when the ball got away, he righted himself and chugged home for a 2-2 reading.
Hudson wasn’t overpowering, he struck out four and walked two. He scattered nine hits and stranded eight Braves on the basepaths. He threw 96 pitches, 61 of which were strikes.
He especially came up big in the bottom of the sixth when Nick Koval and Ryan Kreiter slapped back-to-back leadoff singles to left. However, Hudson settled down and got a comebacker that advanced the runners to second and third. he then struck out the next hitter before getting a soft liner back to him to end the threat.
The Braves tacked on a run in the seventh and had a mild threat going when Maynard manager Laney Simone Sr. started to the mound, only to be waved off by Hudson.
“It was my game to finish,” he stressed afterwards. “Mark (Cisar) already had told me that he wasn’t coming in to relieve me. It was all up to me.”
Hudson’s effort also drew rave reviews from his manager.
“What can you say about Logan? We went back and forth all day trying to figure out what we were going to do (pitching-wise),” Simone Sr. noted. “We had a game plan, we just needed to execute it, and we did.”
Cisar had three of Maynard’s 10 hits. Busby and Androsko each had a pair. Only three of Maynard’s runs were earned.
Muklewicz finished with three Ks and four base-on-balls. He needed 113 pitches, of which 78 were strikes. Yager, Hynes, Koval and Kreiter all had two hits each for the Braves.
A moment of silence was taken during pre-game ceremonies for long-time Times Leader Sports Writer Rich “Hoot” Gibson, who had been hospitalized, before passing away early this morning. Gibson is a former OVBL manager and player.
The three Web gems all went to Maynard, with Busby, its slick-fielding shortstop, having a hand in all three. No. 1 occured when he ranged far to his right, fielded the ball and threw off balance to first to nail Mackenzie Koehler in the seventh. No. 2 arose when he snagged a deflected ball off Hudson’s glove and rifled a strike to first to get the speedy Yager. Finally, he was involved in a crucial pickoff play in the fifth.
Maynard 110 302 0 – 7 10 2
Barton 101 000 1 – 3 9 2
Batteries: Hudson and Androsko. Muklewicz and Hynes.
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org