One win away
MAYNARD – Maynard can wrap up its first Steele and Cook Ohio Valley Baseball League championship under Laney Simone Sr.’s watch.
The fifth-seed (20-7) rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning Sunday to stun No. 3 Lafferty, 3-2, in game two on the sun-baked Firemen’s Field diamond before nearly 350 fans.
Game three of the best-of-5 series is set for tonight at Lafferty’s Community Park at 6. A win by the Dodgers (20-8) would force a game four Tuesday night back in Maynard. Game five, if needed, would be Wednesday in Lafferty.
“I’ve never been so proud of a team,” Simone stressed after watching his squad come from behind for the second consecutive game. “You guys never quit.”
Trailing 2-0 since early in the game, Maynard was finally able to get something going against Lafferty righthander Travis Stephens, who had only allowed three harmless singles through five frames.
After scoring a run in the sixth on Max Schimmel’s sinking liner to left that plated B.A. Holloway, Maynard chased Stephens with two hits and a walk to start the seventh.
“We ended up in the sixth right where we wanted to with our leadoff hitter coming up,” Simone explained. “We had our chance there (in the sixth). We scored a run, but we got to where we wanted to.”
D.J. Busby, who had a third of Maynard’s nine hits, laced a double over Paul Demarchi’s head in left leading off. Mark Cisar worked a walk after a nine-pitch at-bat and Zach Kinnick came through once again. He smacked the first pitch he saw for a single through the left side of the infield that chased home the fleet-footed Busby with the tying run.
“Zach looked at me for the bunt sign,” Simone admitted. “I didn’t give it to him because he can’t bunt for heck. I’m not letting him bunt. He’s my No. 3 guy, so let him hit.”
The Dodgers switched pitchers as Mark Smyth, the game one hard-luck loser, came on in relief of Stephens. Smyth quickly got ahead of Holloway 0-2, but served up the game-winner when Holloway singled to right-center to score Cisar.
“I was looking fastball away and he gave it to me,” Holloway explained of the final at-bat. “I just took it to right.”
Holloway said winning game two was real important.
“It’s huge to go up 2-0. Huge,” he added. “It’s huge because if we had lost and gone back to Lafferty tied at one, it would be a tough series to pull out.”
Lafferty manager Jordan Barbina was disappointed with the loss, but said the season isn’t over yet.
“It’s the first one to three (games), so we’re still alive,” he noted. “They’ve only got two. We’ve got that never-say-die attitude. We’ve been resilient all year. We’ll be back.”
Maynard’s rally made a winner of lefty Sam Vincenzo, who struck out 13 and walked four in going the distance. He scattered three hits and tossed 117 pitches, of which 69 were strikes. He retired 14 of the final 18 batters he faced, and came up with a crucial pickoff to end the Lafferty seventh.
“That was really big,” Simone said of the pickoff, which came with runners on second and third and Barbina, the Dodgers’ leadoff hitter, awaiting a full-count pitch.
“Sam pitched a heckuva game, no matter what it looked like on paper,” Simone praised. “He got the big outs when he needed to.”
Lafferty, as it did in game one, dented the plate first as Barbina singled sharply up the middle leading off the game. He stole second and third, and with two outs, he caught everyone sleeping with a delayed steal of home. After the first pitch to Austin Curry, Barbina broke for the plate when catcher Michael Androsko threw the ball back to Vincenzo. Barbina just made it under Androsko’s tag on a bang-bang play.
The Dodgers used a little two-out lightning in the second to make it 2-0. Smyth lined a two-out triple to right-center and scored two pitches later when the ball was low and in the dirt. It trickled through Androsko’s feet and he couldn’t locate it initially. Smyth scored easily.
“We didn’t hit the ball again,” Barbina, who missed game one, allowed. “We had a couple of fielding problems and a couple of other things didn’t go our way.”
In addition to his game-winning single, Holloway added a double in the sixth that jump-started a rally. Tyler McGary had a double for Lafferty.
The attendance figure, as calculated by Barton manager Billy Timko, was 347.
Simone was unsure of who would get the ball tonight. It could be either Cisar, the game one winner, or Logan Hudson. Barbina, when asked, said “Smith, or was that, Smyth?”
Busby, the slick-fielding shortstop, has five hits in the first two games of the championship series.
Web Gems No. 1 went to Lafferty shortstop Bernie Thompson for his diving effort to snag a drive up the middle in the first inning. Then, while still lying on his stomach, he flipped to Justin Curry for a force out.
No. 2 went to Vincenzo for his pickoff move, and No. 3 was a combination between the Dodgers’ rightfielder Zeke Wharton and first baseman McGary. Wharton made a running catch of a line drive with a runner on first and one out in the fifth. He fired a strike to McGary to complete the inning-ending double play.
The game took 1-hour, 42-minutes.
Lafferty 110 000 0 – 2 3 2
Maynard 000 001 2 – 3 9 0
Batteries: Stephens, Smyth (7) and Jellison. Vincenzo and Androsko.
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