Norwin beats Kiski Valley in rout
NORTH HUNTINGDON - Kiski Valley pitcher Blake Pavlic had a great opening to his start against Norwin, striking out leadoff hitter Drew Rutkowski on a 3-2 pitch.
Things only got worse from there.
Pavlic didn't make it out of the first inning as he was roughed up for eight runs - seven earned - in two-thirds of an inning as Norwin (4-2) blew out Kiski Valley 9-5.
"If you pull him too early, you never let him struggle through it," Kiski Valley head coach Bob Shaffer said. "Maybe it was a poor decision on my (part) staying with him that long, but he has to learn. If he pitches out of it, you're a hero and if not, you're a heel. I'll put that on me as long as they keep playing hard."
Pavlic struck out the only two batters her retired, but surrendered five hits, walked three and hit a batter. He threw 41 pitches, only 17 for strikes. In contrast, reliever Jon Moore threw 32 pitches, 23 for strikes, in 3 1-3 innings of two-hit relief.
"He's had some control problems, on and off, all year," Shaffer said. "The last game, he pitched well. He hit his spots every time and this just wasn't his day."
Were it not for the first inning, Kiski Valley (1-4) might have stayed with the perennial playoff contender. The Vikings held Norwin to only one run and three hits in the last five innings.
"That keeps me encouraged because it's extremely discouraging for a coach whenever they don't care," Shaffer said. "These kids showed that they do care because it's awfully hard to stay in a game whenever you're down eight runs."
It could have been a greater margin of victory for Norwin were it not for one swing of the bat by Ed Lynch. The Vikings catcher ripped the first pitch he saw in the sixth inning from Norwin starter Matt Pozzuto over the center field fence for a grand slam that closed the gap to four.
"If that would have happened in the third or fourth inning it would have helped a lot," Shaffer said. "We might have been able to knock their pitcher out. A lot of things went into that; we had a couple of good hits and got some bunts down."
Still, even a grand slam loses a bit of its luster when it comes in a four-run loss because of an eight-run first inning.
"When you're a young team, you're going to have a lot of innings like that," Shaffer said. "The one thing is they didn't quit, so that to me is a good thing."