LIBERTY CENTER – Swanton baseball used the momentum of a six-run bottom of the first inning to propel them to a 12-4 victory in the NWOAL opener on Wednesday.
The game was rescheduled from Monday and was moved to the Tigers’ field, however, the Bulldogs were still the home team on the scoreboard.
Liberty Center took the early lead in the top of the first, 1-0, after an RBI-single by Joseph Everson plated Austin Like.
The Bulldogs recorded five walks in the home half of the first, including bases loaded walks for Michael Lawniczak, Dean Sego, and Jonny Shanks to put them on top 3-1.
“I pulled the kids aside before the game started and said normally guys that throw hard, they’ll mess up,” said Swanton mentor Tim McCarthy, referring to Krugh. “We wanted to be disciplined in the box and we did a good job.
“We’ve been preaching that from day one, as far as learning the strike zone and being disciplined. We got a little sloppy towards the end, but for the most part, we did a really good job of approaches at the plate.”
However, it was not just walks that led to Swanton runs, they also knocked in three.
Brennan Spiess was next up and he ripped a single to plate two runs. Then, fellow freshman Roman Epley followed with a single for another and the Bulldog lead was 6-1.
“It is fun to watch these young kids. We have freshmen stepping up,” said McCarthy. “This team could be special if they keep improving.”
With still an out left to get, Liberty Center coach Ryan Zeiter replaced Krugh with Dylan Sexton and after a Bryce McComb single, he got a fly out to finally end the inning.
Sexton also got involved offensively for the Tigers, reaching with an infield single in the top of the third, then scoring on a passed ball three batters later to pull his team within four.
But the Dogs kept exposing Tiger pitching, scoring five runs on four hits in the next half inning.
Sego started the rally with a leadoff walk, but LC then got a pair of quick outs. Epley singled to score Sego after he stole second in the previous at bat, followed by a McComb walk to put runners on first and second.
Then, a Jordon Nyler single plated Epley, Gunnar Oakes’ infield single scored McComb, and Lawniczak drilled a two-run double to left to extend the Swanton lead to 11-2 through three.
Liberty Center took advantage of a few mishaps in the field from Swanton in the fourth as they added a pair of runs on just one hit to make it an 11-4 game.
The Tigers replaced Sexton on the mound with Austin Bachman in the bottom of the fourth, however, he also gave up a run.
It started as Brennan Spiess drew a one-out walk and then stole second. He was brought home on a hit from Epley to equal the final score.
Liberty Center chose to call the game after their at bat in the sixth, giving the Dogs the win.
Epley got the win on the mound as he pitched five innings, allowing four runs on five hits while striking out two. McCarthy was encouraged by what he saw from the youngster.
“We played yesterday, we played today, we play tomorrow and we play two Saturday,” he said when talking about the Dogs’ busy schedule last week. “So it is kind of all hands on deck (with our pitching staff). We got what we needed out of Roman.”
He also went 3 for 4 at the plate with three RBIs. Lawniczak was 1 for 3 with a walk and also had three RBIs.
On Tuesday, the Dogs traveled to Hilltop and defeated the Cadets 6-2. However, they dropped their first game and fell to 1-1 in league play with a 2-1 loss at league favorite Bryan on Thursday.
Noah Johnston was the winning pitcher for Swanton against Hilltop. Epley, Lawniczak, and Brennan Spiess each notched a pair of hits.
Against the Golden Bears, Oakes, Shanks, Lawniczak and Brennan Spiess each finished 1 for 3. Nyler went six innings on the mound, allowing just two runs on seven hits.
The Dogs then dropped a doubleheader on the road at Rossford Saturday, falling 6-3 in the first game and 12-6 in the second.
Swanton hosts Delta today in NWOAL action, travels to Evergreen for a non-league contest Wednesday, to Montpelier in NWOAL action Thursday, and Cardinal Stritch on Saturday.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010