Swanton baseball ran into a buzzsaw facing Otsego pitcher AJ Mancini Saturday morning, falling to the Knights 7-2 in the Bulldogs’ home opener.
The junior went five winnings, surrendering just one hit while striking out four batters.
Otsego’s offense did not waste any time either, scoring four runs in the first two innings. A leadoff walk from Will Varner in the top of the first came around to score on a single from Austin Meier.
Down 1-0, the Bulldogs threatened in the bottom half of the inning. The threat started with Michael Lawniczak reaching on an error, then he moved to second on a bad pickoff attempt, and later stole third. Roman Epley walked to put runners on the corners, however, Mancini retired the side with a strikeout of Derek Floyd.
Ben Gray and Zach Davies singled for the Knights in the top of the second, but Davies was the only one left on base as Gray was thrown out trying to get to third on Davies’ hit. However, Rancin Loftis followed with a walk, then both he and Davies moved up on a wild pitch.
The Knights took a 3-0 lead when Varner belted a two-run single. The next hitter, Ian Kress, popped one up, but a drop by the Bulldog infielder scored Varner to make it 4-0 after two.
Both offenses went quiet over the next few innings, but Otsego completed their scoring with a three-run fifth.
David Silva singled to lead off the inning, then he got two more bases thanks to a pair of wild pitches. Meier followed with a walk to put runners on the corners. Corey Hollar then drove in Silva with a base hit, putting the difference at 5-0.
A well-executed sacrifice bunt from AJ Thomas put two Knights in scoring position, while a hit by pitch of Gray loaded the bases with one out. Davies hit into a fielder’s choice in which Swanton’s Hunter Mix would tag the bag at third, however, his throw home was not in time and the Knights extended the lead to 6-0.
A Loftis base hit brought in the final run for the Knights.
Swanton finally dented the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth off Otsego reliever Jeremy Avers. Zach Bloom led off with a walk and he would steal second, then after a strikeout, Epley doubled to trim the deficit to 7-1.
Floyd’s RBI single scored Epley to equal the final score.
Austin Luce took the loss on the mound for the Dogs. He went three innings, allowing four runs on five hits with two strikeouts.
Wyatt Lake and Mix combined to finish the outing.
Varner paced the Knights as he went 2 for 3 with a walk and two RBIs. Epley went 2 for 2 with a walk and an RBI to lead the Bulldog offense.
After traveling to Waite today, Swanton is at Eastwood Tuesday, hosts Delta Thursday, visits Sylvania Northview Friday, and hosts North Central on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010