Ford City's Retzer pitches gem in final Sabers appearance
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Pitching for the final time in a Ford City uniform, Justin Retzer had one last memorable outing Wednesday against his school's biggest rival.
Retzer allowed one run and two hits in seven innings, striking out 10 to help Ford City get the upper hand at Kittanning, 7-1, in the final game of the season for both teams.
Mike Fennell and Caleb Zablocki hit two-run singles for the Sabers (8-7), who have won two straight against Kittanning and ended the season on a three-game winning streak.
Retzer got his 10th strikeout with the final pitch of the game. Ford City's No. 1 pitcher said it was just the way he wanted to finish.
“Getting that last strikeout was very nice to end the game, my season and my senior year,” Retzer said. “It was really good beating (Kittanning) because they beat us in every other sport this year. It's pretty nice to get a win against them.”
Christian Miller drove in the only run for Kittanning (3-13) with a fourth-inning sacrifice fly that scored Sam Keibler, who led off with a double. That double and a first-inning single by senior catcher Blake Davis were the Wildcats' only hits, though Kittanning put additional runners on base by way of Ford City errors.
“When things don't go our way, they really don't go our way this year,” said Davis. “Occasionally we'd get those timely hits, but a couple times today, we put ourselves in position to score and couldn't get the hits we needed.”
Ford City jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI double by Brandon Dineley and Fennell's two-run single down the third-base line. The Sabers scored their fourth run in the third on a Kittanning throwing error.
That was more than enough support for Retzer, who despite having an ERA under 2.00 recorded just his second win of the year.
“A lot of the games I've pitched, we've only scored two runs,” Retzer said. “That made it tough because I can't strike everybody out or make every out. It's definitely nice to have the team scoring runs for me.”
Kittanning held Ford City without another run until the seventh inning. Relief pitcher Logan Slage allowed three runs in five innings.
Slage, a sophomore, and his teammates will be able to build on this season; nearly everyone returns next year. Against Ford City, Davis was the only senior on the field for Kittanning.
“We had a lot of young kids that got a lot of playing time this year. I was happy with how they played,” Davis said. “I'm going to remember that 12-inning game we played against (Section 5-AAA runner-up) Mars. Even though we lost (4-1 on April 25), that was the longest game and one of the best games I've been a part of.”
Ford City stands to lose slightly more to graduation — there are four seniors on the roster — but the Sabers' departing players can take credit for the team's first overall winning record since 2009.
“When we beat Freeport (2-1 on April 4), and I struck out 16; I'm definitely going to remember that,” Retzer said. “We had a good year, but it would've been nice to make it to the playoffs.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.
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