BLAIRSVILLE — The batting lineup for Blairsville produced from top to bottom on Monday, saving some of the starting rotation’s key arms in what may mark the Bobcats’ busiest week of the regular season.
In their first of four scheduled games this week, the Bobcats scored eight runs in the first inning and limited Saltsburg to just one hit en route to a 15-3 win in a Heritage Conference baseball game Monday at WyoTech Park.
The game, which was shortened to five innings due to the mercy rule, was originally slated to be played in Saltsburg but was moved to WyoTech Park.
Three young Blairsville pitchers, starter Zack Olechovski, Nathan Seitz and Corey Ramsden, combined to one-hit the Trojans.
“It was definitely important to try to get a couple different people out there on the mound and save some arms for the rest of the week,” said eighth-year Blairsville coach Mark Zerfoss. “It was almost as important as coming away with a win. But they played Homer-Center relatively tough, and Homer has a nice squad, so to come out of here with a win like that, against their ace, it’s definitely a confidence builder for us.”
Blairsville (3-0) had seven hits and a walk in the top of the first inning to jump out to an 8-0 lead on Saltsburg ace Ian Satler. John Distefano cracked an RBI-double in the inning, Scott Thompson, Ricky Shirley, Alex Parkhurst and Anthony Faulk each stroked RBI-singles, and Cameron Livingston belted a two-run single.
The Trojans (1-3) answered with a run in the bottom of the first, only to have Distefano triple and score on a sacrifice fly in the top of the second to again stretch the Bobcats’ lead to eight runs, 9-1.
“They got the breaks today and we didn’t,” first-year Saltsburg coach Mark Palmer said. “They had a lot of seeing-eye singles early in the game, but that’s what wins games. We were out in front of the pitcher (and) we weren’t sitting back (and) driving the ball. We were in a hole, but anything can happen in the first inning if you stay up (and) stay attacking the ball. We didn’t (and) we kind of folded.”
Faulk doubled and then scored on an RBI-single from Livingston to increase Blairsville’s lead to 10-1 in the top of the third. Two batters later, Distefano ripped an RBI-single to score Livingston, making it an 11-1 game.
Burke Oday and Austin Morris drew back-to-back bases-loaded walks in the bottom of the fourth to trim the Bobcats’ lead to eight runs, 11-3. But Blairsville drilled four straight singles in the top of the fifth to score four runs and balloon its lead to 12 runs, 15-3.
Ramsden issued a two-out walk in the bottom of the fifth before striking out a swinging Jimmy Beitel to end the game.
“We had a couple starters who weren’t here and we had some young kids filling in for them, and they all did a nice job stepping up,” Zerfoss said. “I know it was relieving to our pitchers, who are very green, yet, when it comes to pitching. So it was comforting and it gave them some confidence and relaxed them, which I know was very helpful.”
Distefano paced the Bobcats by going 4-for-4 with three runs scored. Livingston went 2-for-2 with three runs scored and four RBIs, and Faulk finished 2-for-2 with four runs scored. Shirley singled twice and drove in three runs, and Thompson and Ramsden each singled twice.
Olechovski struck out one and walked two in two innings to earn the win.
Morris registered Saltsburg’s lone hit, a single in the third inning.