Third inning sparks Jets past Huskies
MORRISTOWN – Pec Schmitt is on the lookout for pitching depth.
The first-year Union Local Jets head coach found some Wednesday evening.
He handed the ball to Bobby Stewart for his first career varsity start. Stewart responded and earned himself another start down the road.
The Jets, playing their first home game and first game against a team from Ohio, used a six-run rally in the third inning to fuel themselves to a 8-4 victory against Harrison Central.
“Bobby Stewart is the story of the game,” Schmitt said. “What a warrior he was today!”
The loss drops Harrison Central to 3-2 on the season.
“The level of intensity we’ve had the last couple of years and we’ve become accustomed to isn’t there right now,” Harrison Central head coach Mike Valesko said. “I don’t know if that’s young guys still trying to figure out their roles or what, but we have to come ready to go from the first pitch because teams have circled us on the schedule now. We have to match the other teams’ intensity or it’s going to be a long season.”
The Huskies actually jumped out to a three-run lead before Union Local’s offense got untracked.
Harrison Central scored a single run in each of the first three frames, but Stewart just continued to battle as he waited for his team’s offense to get going.
Stewart, batting in the ninth spot of the order, drew a lead-off walk to ignite the third inning. Shane Smolenak and Travis James followed with singles.
The hit parade continued when shortstop Tristen Bruce roped a single into left, scoring Stewart and Smolenak. Griffey Girty drew a walk and Matt Dunfee ripped a single that scored James and Bruce, who had moved up on an error.
Eric Dunfee continued the rally when he drove in Girty with a base hit.
“We preach first-pitch fastball,” Schmitt said. “We get it, we hit it and then we’re aggressive on the base paths. We got some clutch hits, too. We had a lot of great at-bats today.”
From there, Stewart settled in.
He had a rocky fourth inning. He allowed a lead-off single and sandwiched two hit batsmen around an out as Harrison loaded the bases.
He then induced a pop out to short and got out of the jam by getting a ground out to third.
“That’s kind of been us throughout the season so far,” Valesko said of his team’s inability to get a big inning started. “We just can’t get over the hump where we have a chance to bust an inning open. Our (hitting) approach isn’t real good right now, but it’s still early.”
Eric Dunfee and Cody Burnett produced RBI singles in the fifth as Union Local took advantage of one of four Harrison fielding errors to tack on two insurance runs.
The Huskies got a run back in the seventh on a RBI triple from losing pitcher Giovanni Rocchi, but Stewart got a come backer to end the game and finish the complete-game.
He fanned four, walked one and plunked two.
“Bobby threw 95 percent fastballs today,” Schmitt said. “We’re throwing guys out there and putting into the water quickly. He’s absolutely going to get the baseball again, too.” Linescore:
HC 111 000 1 – 4 8 4
UL 006 200 x – 8 11 3
HC – Rocchi lp (2K, 2BB), Saho 4 (1K, 1BB) and Staten. Rutter 2S; Staten 3S, RBI; Rocchi T, S, RBI; B. Mitchell S, RBI; Redish RBI.
UL – Stewart wp (4K, 4BB) and Burnett. Smolenak 2S, James 3S, Bruce 2S, 2RBI; M. Dunfee S, 2RBI; E. Dunfee 2S, 2 RBI; Burnett S, RBI.
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