Deer Lakes baseball surges past Burrell in 7th
The way Burrell and Deer Lakes were stranding runners in Wednesday's Section 3-AA opener, it was easy to figure the first team with a clutch hit would win.
That's exactly what happened as Lancers junior Zach Hudecek lined a two-run single to right-center with two outs in the seventh, lifting Deer Lakes to a 4-2 victory at windswept Huston Middle School field.
Burrell (0-3, 0-1) was clinging to a 2-1 lead in the seventh after the leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth.
Deer Lakes' Kevin Begley reached base on a force play and took third on Todd Coleman's double.
Adam Fredley bounced to short to score Begley with the tying run.
A hit batsman and a walk set the stage for Hudecek.
“I just wanted to hit a line drive somewhere, get a run in and make a name for myself in this organization,” Hudecek said.
It was Hudecek's third single of the day, and it brought home pinch runner Pat McMurray and Jimmy Fiel with the decisive runs.
“He's been on the baseball the past few games,” Lancers coach Jon Pedrosky said of Hudecek. “All his hits were up the middle today, and he just teed up on that fastball and drove in two huge runs for us.”
Winning pitcher Dom Chiera retired all four batters he faced after relieving Coleman with two outs in the sixth.
“Against Burrell, it's always something like this,” Pedrosky said. “Todd Coleman kept us in the game, especially in this cold weather. But you always expect it to come down to the last inning against Burrell.
Bucs right-hander Nick Artman went the distance, pitching out of several jams, including the top of the sixth when Deer Lakes (1-2, 1-0) had the tying run at third and one out.
But Artman fanned Josh Plocki and pinch hitter Dom Richards to preserve the slim Burrell advantage.
Burrell coach Mark Spohn had confidence in Artman despite a pair of visits to the mound in the seventh.
“He was still pitching well enough and still had some pop on the ball,” Spohn said.
The hitting star for Burrell was Austin Devore, who doubled and scored the first Bucs run in the second then drove home Corey Arabia with another double in the fourth.
Artman helped his cause in the second with a sacrifice fly to center that brought home Devore.
Deer Lakes thought it had a run in the top of the second.
With the bases loaded and two out, Matt Olesnivich was hit by a pitch, but the umpires ruled Olesnivich didn't adequately try to avoid the pitch.
Olesnivich then popped up, and Burrell catcher Shane Cornuet made a fine catch, backpedaling toward first base.
“We were hoping to cash in early, but we weren't able to,” Pedrosky said.
The Lancers got on the scoreboard in the fourth when Begley led off with a walk and stole second. He went to third on a bouncer back to the pitcher and scored on Fiel's force play.
Burrell's three losses have been by a total of five runs.
“We'll get better,” Spohn said.
George Guido is a freelance writer.