Swanton baseball resumed their meeting with Patrick Henry from April 18 which was halted in the top of the sixth inning Friday, playing a total of four more innings as the Bulldogs tallied three runs in the top of the 10th inning for a 7-4 win in Northwest Ohio Athletic League action.
The teams elected to also play a five-inning non-league game with Swanton taking that contest, again by a 7-4 final.
But, while the Bulldogs won the day, the real heroes were a few Swanton parents who got the field ready in the hours leading up to the game. After several days of intense rainfall, many area fields were unplayable, including Garrold Parratt Field in Patrick Henry where the game was originally scheduled to be.
“The way that the weather’s been, we’re just thankful to play a couple games,” said Swanton coach Tim McCarthy. “We had a few parents come out here at 12:30 today and push water off the field. They’re the real MVPs so to speak. Of helping out and doing what we could to get that game (the first game) finished especially.”
In the first game, the Dogs took control with one gone in the top of the sixth. Billy Nowakowski doubled to right center to start the rally. Then, Devon Crouse reached on a dropped pop up at first, also allowing Nowakowski to get to third. They grabbed the lead for good when Zach Zawodni dropped down a perfect bunt and Nowakowski got in just ahead of the tag for the 5-4 lead.
“He’s been one of our better bunters this year,” said McCarthy of Zawodni. “It was one of those times where I guessed that he’d throw a strike and he did. Zach executed it and we were able to score a run.”
However, they did not stop there. A walk reloaded the bases, followed by Hunter Mix’s two-run single to reach the final tally.
Nowakowski did allow a two-out single by Axel Shanks in the bottom of the frame, but he struck out Kolton Holloway to thwart the opportunity.
Austin Luce started on the mound for the Dogs and pitched three plus innings before running into trouble in the ninth, then Nowakowski finished it off for the win.
“Austin’s getting better with command and pounding the strike zone,” said McCarthy, speaking on his team’s pitching in game one. “He seems to have a little bit of a mental lapse once in awhile, where he gets in trouble walking guys. Billy’s done a really good job for us coming in in relief. Just comes in and throws strikes. He was able to kind of wiggle out of that (ninth-inning jam). And we were able to score some runs after.”
Swanton fell into a 3-0 hole in the second game before battling back. In the bottom of the first, they scored a pair on Roman Epley’s RBI double and a hit by pitch to Derek Floyd with the bases loaded, cutting the Patriots’ lead to 3-2.
Then, after Christian Petersen doubled the PH lead by scoring on a wild pitch in the top of the third inning, Swanton scored five times over the next two innings to take control.
The first two came with runners on second and third in the home half of the third. Luce walked on a pitch that ended up at the backstop, allowing Nowakowski to score, plus Floyd came home when the throw to the plate in an attempt to get Nowakowski went awry. A sacrifice fly then plated Luce for a 5-4 Bulldog lead.
Mix registered a one-out single in the bottom of the fourth, making his way to third on multiple wild pitches. He scored on a Michael Lawniczak flyout. Epley, who walked in the at-bat succeeding Mix, later scored on a wild pitch to put the score at 7-4.
“After giving up three in the first inning, we showed a little resiliency bouncing back and found a way to win,” said McCarthy of the second game. “Hunter (Mix) had a real nice day at the plate all around. Both games.”
Three pitchers worked the second game for Swanton. Jayde Kruzel went the first two innings, Mix came in and finished the third, then Floyd went the fourth and the fifth.
The Dogs were back in action Saturday, falling 8-2 in a game versus Central Catholic at Mercy Field.
Swanton has a long week ahead if weather permits. They are at St. John’s today, then host Wauseon in a makeup game Wednesday, travel to Clay Thursday before hosting Cardinal Stritch Friday and visiting Ottawa Hills Saturday.
The Dogs also learned where they will open up play in the state tournament in Division II. They are at Bryan Friday, May 17 at 5 p.m. in a sectional final.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010