The ACME Baseball summer season in Ohio serves as an opportunity for high school programs to place less emphasis on winning games and to concentrate more on evaluating former junior varsity players and incoming freshmen, develop and improve individual player skills and gain invaluable experience for the entire team as it begins to ready itself for next year’s spring campaign.
Swanton baseball coach Tim McCarthy also subscribes to the philosophy of challenging his team by playing against the strongest competition possible to help achieve these goals. On Wednesday evening, at Mercy Field in Holland, that competition came in the form of the Fighting Irish of Central Catholic
The Bulldogs jumped on the Irish in the first inning, scoring twice to take the early lead. Roman Epely and Gunnar Oakes drew one out walks and a single by Josh Adcock brought Epely home with the first run. Oakes soon followed, diving head first across the plate after a wild pitch giving Swanton a 2-0 advantage.
Noah Johnston took the hill for the Dogs in the bottom of the first and looked very strong, setting down the Irish in order.
In the top of the second Swanton doubled its lead to 4-0. Brennan Spiess led off with and single and Justin Timpe reached on an error by the third baseman. After a strikeout and a double steal, Johnston lined a single to left driving in two and the Bulldogs looked to be rolling.
However, in the bottom half of the inning the Central bats came alive. They sent 10 batters to the plate with the first six all reaching base on four hits, one walk and an error and scored four times to tie the game at four a piece heading into the third.
The Dogs went quietly in the third but not so much the Irish. A base on balls followed by a triple gave Toledo CC its first lead of the game at 5-4. Two more walks, a stolen base and a fielder’s choice plated another run and Central was on top 6-4 after three.
Swanton catcher and incoming freshman Michael Lawniczak led off the top of the fourth with a blast to deep left center field for a triple and came home when Marek Spiess drilled a shot into left to pull the Bulldogs within one, 6-5. Zach Bloom followed with a line drive between short and third but the rally stalled and Swanton was unable to mount another threat for the rest of the game.
The Irish added an unearned insurance run in the bottom of the fifth inning and went on to a 7-5 victory.
Despite the loss Coach McCarthy likes how this team is developing, given the task of having to replace five graduated seniors. “We’re young,” he said of his squad that starts three freshman including standout Lawniczak behind the plate. “He has a chance to be special,” commented McCarthy on his talented catcher. “He has a strong work ethic and really works at his craft.”
The Bulldogs managed five hits and also drew six walks in the contest, displaying a patient eye at the plate. Johnston threw four innings and took the loss but the Dogs got solid relief performances from Bloom and Jordon Nyler in the final two frames. Swanton has a scheduled game tonight at home against Pettisville starting at 6 p.m. and opens up tournament play on Friday in Napoleon at 6:30 p.m.