Baseball: Getting back into the swing of things

With the weather finally beginning to cooperate – although not without a few more raindrops and grumbles of thunder – the Port Allegany baseball team went 3-1 in a pair of doubleheaders last week, splitting with Kane on Thursday and sweeping Otto-Eldred on Saturday to improve to 5-2 on the season.

But after almost three full weeks since their last game, the Gators struggled to get back into the swing of things when they finally got back on the field in Kane, dropping a 3-2 decision in the opener before rebounding to take the nightcap 11-2.

“Give credit to Kane for making us pay, but we didn’t play well. We didn’t deserve to win,” coach Nate Zitnik said of the first game, when Port stranded several baserunners and the three Wolves runners who scored got on base via a walk, an error, and a hit batsman.

Scoring wasn’t a problem in the second game, when Rickie Bova’s solo home run and doubles by Seth Lowery, Camrin Stuckey, Sam Kysor and Garrett Drabert highlighted an 11-run outburst.

“Rickie busted out. He roped that one; it was a great hit,” Zitnik said. “Everyone contributed. I couldn’t be any happier with that stat line.”

In Saturday morning’s first game, the Gator bats were sluggish again, but Stuckey homered to lead off the second inning and combined with starter Garrett Drabert on a one-hit shutout to give the Gators the 1-0 win over Otto-Eldred.

“Stuke’s been on fire lately. He did almost kill me – he hit a laser right out at me (in the third-base coaches’ box), so now every time he’s been up to bat, I’ve been coaching from the other team’s dugout,” Zitnik noted with a grin. “But he’s been hitting really well. He came in and shut the door pitching-wise, and gave us our only run with that home run. We got off to a slow start; we put the ball in play, but they made plays. We were lucky to get out with a win there.”

First, though, Port had to withstand a bases-loaded threat from the Terrors.

“Cory Burr, who hasn’t played that much – he was filling in for Charlie Buchanan, who was taking his SATs – makes a diving play in the gap and flips to second to Sam to really save that game for us. So while it’s not exactly how I wanted it, there were some bright spots, too. I would be remiss to not acknowledge that we did some good things,” Zitnik said.

Zach Sigafoes drove in four runs and Sam Kysor added three in the second game, as Port completed the sweep with a 7-4 win.

“I do have to credit the guys in the second game,” Zitnik said. “Seth got himself in the groove and scored runs for us, Sam had a good game with multiple hits, and Stuckey stayed hot. But the surprise for us was Zach Sigafoes, with the clutch RBIs that put us ahead.”

But while he was happy to get out with the wins, Zitnik knows there’s plenty of work to do if his team wants to make a deep postseason run.

“It’s almost like we’re starting all over again, which is difficult with the playoffs just around the corner,” he said.

At Kane, May 5:
Port A 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 – 2 4 1
Kane 2 0 0 1 0 0 x — 3 3 3
Kyle Hildebrandt (3 SO, 2 BB), Camrin Stuckey (4) (1 SO, 0 BB) and Zach Sigafoes
Evan Depto (2 SO, 2 BB), Dave Swanson (4) (2 SO, 0 BB) and Jordan Kumher

Kane 0 1 0 1 0 — 2 2 1
Port A 2 9 0 0 x – 11 9 1
Swanson, Mitch Kumher (2), Matt Flickinger (2), Dan Park (3) (3 SO, 7 BB), and J. Kumher
Stuckey (3 SO, 1 BB), Garrett Drabert (3) (4 SO, 1 BB) and Sigafoes
HR: Bova (PA)

At Port Allegany, May 7:
Port Allegany 0 1 0 0 0 – 1 3 0
Otto-Eldred 0 0 0 0 0 – 0 1 1
Drabert (5 SO, 3 BB), Stuckey (4) (4 SO) and Sigafoes
Clay Pinner (2 SO) and Noah Colebert
HR: Stuckey (PA)

Otto-Eldred 2 2 0 0 0 – 4 4 2
Port Allegany 3 0 2 2 x – 7 6 1
Ryan Jeannerette (1 SO, 1 BB), Craig Halstead (4) (3 BB), Sam Colebert (4) and Pinner
Stuckey (1 SO, 1 BB), Hildebrandt (2) (3 SO, 1 BB), Sam Kysor (5) (2 SO, 1 BB) and Sigafoes

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