Swanton twice overcame two-run deficits and a five-run bottom of the fourth inning allowed them to take the lead for good in what amounted to a 13-10 win on Saturday to open the Bulldogs’ baseball season.
Helping them turn the tides on the mound was Adam Lemon who pitched the final 3 2/3 innings.
“We had a freshman (Lemon) come in and kind of took control,” said Bulldog skipper Josh Siewert. “Some young guys had to step into the outfield — we had a couple guys get hurt, some position changes. Everybody was aggressive. We had a sour taste in our mouth from last year. Got a little better attitudes (this year) and they’re hungry.”
Down 2-0 after the top of the first, Swanton tied it in the next half inning thanks to Ryan O’Shea’s two-run double to left field.
Then, in the bottom of the second, Drew Smigelski’s double brought home Johnny Heckert for a 3-2 Swanton advantage. The Bulldogs got another in their half of the third to bring the margin to 4-2.
However, a four-run top of the fourth for Northwood put them back in the lead. With the bases loaded, Kaleb Brossia recorded an RBI single. Two more runs scored via wild pitches, and an Elias Pecina RBI single plated another for a 6-4 Rangers’ lead.
Northwood pitchers lost some command in the bottom of the inning, allowing the Dogs to put five runs on the board. Garrett Swank walked to start the frame off Pecina who came on in relief of Nolan Wagner. He stole second and later rode home on an errant attempt to pick him off at second.
Smigelski would walk for the Dogs, then following a groundout, Kaden Curtis reached by way of a base on balls. Austyn Gossett was then hit by a pitch to load the bases and another hit by pitch brought home Smigelski and tied the game at 6-6.
Hunter Gowing was also hit by a pitch and a bases loaded walk scored another Bulldog run, putting them on top by a run. They got another bases loaded walk for a run, plus Swank’s run-scoring single for a 9-6 lead through four innings.
“Last year we would have been swinging at pitches over our head. So we were a little more disciplined. And took the walks, and took advantage of passed balls. Just were a little smarter on the bases and at the plate,” Siewert said of the Dogs taking advantage of their oppportunities.
Lemon set the Rangers down in order in both the fifth and sixth innings.
“Really good,” said Siewert of Lemon’s performance in relief of Heckert. “We had him picked to start last week, our opener, and it got canceled. And he started the JV game the other day and was not very good. He had a confidence thing in his head and he came through.”
Gossett was again hit by a pitch in Swanton’s half of the fifth and would later score to push the lead to 10-6. In the sixth, O’Shea drove in a run, Swank scored another, and a bases loaded walk brought in O’Shea bumping Swanton’s lead to 13-6.
A few Bulldog errors and Gage Reed’s two-run double helped the Rangers score four in the top of the seventh, however, they would get no closer.
If weather cooperates, this week Swanton is at Pettisville Tuesday, hosts Maumee and Delta Wednesday and Thursday, and welcomes North Central on Saturday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.