The Swanton baseball team continued its strong start to the season with a 5-4 victory over Northern Buckeye Conference favorite Eastwood on Monday.
“We knew they were gonna be good. They had all their guys coming back from the regional team last year,” said Swanton head coach Tim McCarthy of Eastwood. “We wanted to test ourselves and the kids showed up. All around. Good at bats. Played really well defensively, and held on at the end.”
The game started with a good defensive series for the Bulldogs. First Eastwood got a leadoff walk from Cade Boos who stole second, but Grant Hirzel’s sacrifice bunt attempt was unsuccessful as he was thrown out and then Boos was also gunned down.
The next Eagle batter, Jacob Pickerel, was hit by a pitch, while Tyler Haas singled to put runners on first and second. But, Swanton starter Noah Johnston drew a groundout from the next hitter which ended the threat.
Swanton’s offense would answer the call with five runs on five hits in the bottom of the second.
Josh Adcock walked to lead off the inning, then Zach Zawodni’s bunt moved him to second. A Johnston double plated Adcock to give the Dogs the early lead.
However, they did not stop there.
Zach Bloom laced a single scoring Johnston, followed by a Xavier Williams walk and Roman Epley’s infield single. Hunter Mix grounded out to score Bloom to make it 3-0.
Gunnar Oakes completed the Bulldog onslaught with a two-run single.
“It was good to see the bottom of the order get on base with big hits there,” said McCarthy of the inning. “We got a guy on, Zach (Zawodni) got a bunt down and (the offense) came through.”
As the rain began to lightly fall in the top of the sixth, the Eagles looked to claw their way back into the game.
The first four batters reached in the inning as both Haas and Tyler Schmeltz drove in runs, cutting the Swanton lead to 5-2. McCarthy then made the choice to take out Johnston and bring Bloom in for relief.
Following a fly out, Brendan Halko singled to bring home another run and make it 5-3. Then, Jacob Zatko’s ground out plated a run to put it at 5-4, before a shallow fly ball off the bat of Pickerel ended the inning.
“I think I might have went with him a little bit too long,” said McCarthy on the decision to take out Johnston. “But his pitch count wasn’t bad, and the competitor and the senior that he is, he didn’t want to come out. I rolled with him. Maybe a little bit too long. But, I had a lot of confidence that Zach (Bloom) would come in and get the job done.”
Swanton also shut down the Eagles in the top of the seventh.
Boos reached on a fielding error to begin the frame, where a bunt moved him into scoring position. Bloom fanned Pickerel for the second out, then McCarthy gave a free pass to Haas which brought Schmeltz to the plate.
The decision paid off for the Dogs as Schmeltz flew a ball out to left that Jonny Shanks made a running catch on to end the game.
“He’s not going to Bowling Green for no reason. He’s a good player,” said the Swanton coach of Haas. “It won’t be the last time he gets intentionally walked I’m sure.”
The Bulldogs (5-0) return to action Thursday when they travel to Delta for a non-league match-up.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010
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