SPRINGFIELD TWP.: Tournament openers probably can’t get any better than this one was for Springfield.
The Spartans were productive, efficient and wrapped things up quickly with a 17-3 rout of visiting Kenmore in a Canton Division II sectional semifinal under bright blue skies despite chilly temperatures at JEDD Park.
Everybody in the Springfield lineup crossed home plate in a 10-run second inning. As a result, the Spartans needed only to get through 4½ innings to win by the mercy rule.
The low-stress result was welcomed, since No. 6 seed Springfield (14-7) prepares for a stiffer challenge this afternoon at No. 2 seed Alliance in a sectional final.
“We put the ball in play, made some stuff happen and we were aggressive at the plate today,” said Springfield coach Scott Swan. “We ran the bases hard and we’re playing pretty good ball right now.”
The Spartans rapped out 15 hits and batted around twice. Senior right-hander Mitch Stubbs (6-1) allowed two hits in the first four innings.
“Having a senior leader out there on the mound sets the tone right off the bat,” said Swan. “And then we were able to pick it up from there.”
Stubbs struck out five and walked none. He also contributed a run-scoring single in the third. Obviously, the run support made his task a whole lot easier.
“Just throw strikes and have your defense back you up,” said Stubbs. “ I throw a good curveball, and that sets up my fastball.”
Senior Kyle McLean led off with the first of his three hits and scored on the first of junior Michael Perkins’ two RBI singles for a 1-0 lead in the Springfield first. But that was a mere prelude to what happened the next inning.
Six hits, two errors, a couple of misjudged fly balls that went for hits, two walks and a hit batter resulted in 10 runs and an 11-0 lead. Sophomore Sean Rosen had two doubles and three RBI in the second and junior Shane Robinson scored two runs.
RBI singles by senior Aaron Mason, sophomore Rocco DiLauro and sophomore Collin Hefner keyed a five-run fourth that increased the lead to 17-2.
“Our inability to field a ground ball and catch a fly ball is what really hurt us,” said Kenmore coach Joe Nauer. “Nothing more I can say about the situation. Teams like this you can’t give extra outs to. That’s what we did today. When you can’t make a play like that, nothing good is going to come out of that.”
Kenmore (7-12), which faces two City Series games with Ellet to complete its season, did score twice in the third inning on Zack Heavilin’s double and Robert Zganjar’s groundout.
The Cardinals added a run in the fifth on Zganjar’s two-out single.
“Our goal is always to jump out early,” said Swan. “I was surprised we scored that many in the second inning. One batter kind of fed off the other and it snowballed from there.”
Swan realizes today’s game against Alliance will be a formidable obstacle.
“They’re a No. 2 seed for a reason,” he said. “They are a tough team and any time they’re playing at home, it’s going to be a challenge. But we’re going to show up and play ball as hard as we can with Collin Floyd, our No. 1 pitcher, on the mound and take our chances.”
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