Written by: Derrick Blyberg
HAMILTON, Ohio – The Hamilton Joes completed a doubleheader
sweep of the Stark County Terriers on opening day at Foundation Field Saturday
night. Hamilton overpowered Stark County 12-4 in the first game and came-from-behind
in a thrilling, extra-inning game to win 6-5 in the nightcap.
Stark County (0-3) jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the
first game after two doubles and a walk surrendered by Hamilton starting
pitcher Kurt Watkins.
The Joes’ offense got rolling in the third inning, putting
up three runs to take the lead 3-2.
Designated-hitter Cody Leichman singled with the bases
loaded, knocking in two of those runs.
Hamilton (3-0) ended up scoring a run in each of the next
three innings, including one in the fourth, three in the sixth and five in the
Stark County tacked on two runs in the fifth to tie the game
at 4-4, but the Joes had plenty of insurance to take the seven-inning home
Watkins lasted two batters into the fifth inning before he
was relieved by Nate Smith.
Smith(1-0) shut down the Terriers, allowing three hits in
three scoreless innings of work for the win.
The turning point of the game came in the sixth inning when
Joes’ first baseman Caleb Bryson launched a three-run home run to center field.
He led the charge at the plate going 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs
Stark County reliever Sam Shafer (0-1) was dealt the loss
after giving up four earned runs in only two and two-thirds innings pitched.
The Joes had six stolen bases, including three by outfielder
Five Joes recorded an RBI – Tucker Tubbs (2), Leichman (2),
Bryson (3), Tommy Ricciardi (2), Jacob Moody (1).
The Terriers also scored first in the nightcap, plating three
runs against Hamilton’s Ryan Riga. They were able to string three consecutive
hits in the third inning for the early 3-0 lead.
Stark County starter Tyler Glass stifled the Joes’
offense, allowing only three hits in six quality innings. The Joes didn’t score
a run until a McAlpine sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Stark County responded with a run in the sixth inning and
held a 4-1 lead heading to the seventh.
Glass was pulled in favor of relief pitcher Zach Edwards and
the Joes offense came back to life.
Second baseman Ryan Leffel and catcher James Jewell led off
the seventh with back-to-back singles. Two batters later, McAlpine reached on a
bunt single to load the bases for shortstop Devon Reed.
Following his arrival to Hamilton earlier in the day, Reed
showed no signs of fatigue as he ripped a single to right field for two runs.
McAlpine ended up scoring the tying run on a groundout by
Meanwhile, Dylan Toscano relieved Riga (5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 5 K)
on the mound in the sixth and looked nearly unhittable. In three innings of relief, he struck out eight
batters and allowed three hits with one run.
The game remained tied at 4-4 through nine innings and required an extra inning
Stark County broke the tie on Garrett Emiling’s
RBI single which followed a triple by Max Murphy to take the lead 5-4 in the tenth.
Joes’ reliever Michael Ricchi came on to pitch the ninth and
eventually stranded two runners in the tenth to get out of a jam.
Down to the last three outs, Bryson proved to be the clutch
hitter for the Joes once again by leading off with a double.
Right fielder Colton Simbeck followed with a single to move
the tying run to third and put the go-ahead run on first.
Leffel came up next and hit a chopper to the shortstop.
Bryson broke for home and the shortstop threw the ball wide of the catcher,
allowing the tying run to score and the go-ahead run to advance to third.
Leffel also advanced to second on the play.
Following a line out to first base, Stark County decided to
intentionally walk left fielder Jacob Moody. This loaded the bases and created
a force-out situation at every base.
They also moved their center fielder to the infield in order
to protect a hit up the middle.
McAlpine entered the box next and hit a grounder back to the
mound. Edwards threw home for the force-out and stopped the winning run from
The next batter was Reed who already produced a bases loaded
single earlier in the day.
The newcomer worked the count to two strikes and two balls,
and then hit a slow roller just past the third base side of the mound.
Edwards and the third baseman were unable to make a play on
the ball and Leffel came across with the winning run.
Edwards (0-1) was charged with the loss.
Ricchi (1-0; 2 IP, 4 H, 1 K, 1 R) earned his first win.
Hamilton stranded 12 runners in the nightcap.
Stark County out-hit Hamilton 20-19 on the day, but the Joes
used four double plays to get out of jams.
The Joes take their three-game win streak on the road
tonight as they face the Grand Lake Mariners (1-1) at Jim Hoess Field in
Celina, Ohio. First pitch is scheduled at 4:00 p.m. ET.
For more information please visit: www.hamiltonjoes.com and/or www.greatlakesleague.org.
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