WILCOX – The Wilcox American Legion team remained undefeated in the early season with a 5-2 victory over Fox Township Monday night at the Jones Township Community Park.
Wilcox (2-0) opened the game with a run in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Cole Peterson reached on an error at second base by Fox Township, an overthrow which led Peterson to second base. He moved to third on a Jesse Reynolds groundout and scored on a bunt by Mitchell Holmberg for the game's first run.
Johnsonburg coach Jeff Peterson said with Fox Township throwing pitcher Bob Vollmer, runs would be at a premium.
"That's a big win. I knew they would be throwing him. and we were going to be in for a battle so we played some smallball," coach Peterson said. "Those early runs and the small-ball, the squeezes and everything. These kids are all team players. They'll take that bunt and give up that run. They'll lay it down and do it and they'll all do it. It's a big thing. I try to teach them to use small-ball to win games. It's proven that it will keep you in the game and you have to play that way."
Justin Quiggle led off the fourth inning with a hard-hit ball to right field which was good for two bases. Quiggle was looking to stretch the hit into a triple but was thrown out by a series of relay throws to open the fourth inning from right fielder Quinn Luhr to second baseman Frank Kocjancic to shortstop Cole Peterson to third baseman Jesse Reynolds.
"Defensively, we're tough," coach Peterson said. "Quinn Luhr getting that ball off the fence, hitting the cut to Frankie, Frankie to Cole and Cole to Jesse. That's how a relay's supposed to work. That's what we practice. It paid off, we got the big out. That was a momentum killer, I think. They had stuff going right there."
Joe Holmberg led off the fourth inning by reaching on another Fox Township error as the shortstop overthrew first base. Holmberg reached second. Cameron Grumley then tried to bunt Holmberg over to third but another infield overthrow left runners on the corners with no one out. After a flyout, Quinn Luhr hit a sacrifice bunt to score Holmberg and put the lead at 2-0 and move Grumley to second base in the process. Frank Kocjancic then clutched up from the ninth spot in the batting order with a single to score Grumley and make the lead 3-0.
Robbie Watts and Brandon Vollmer were walked with one out in the fifth and Luke Schreiber reached on a fielder's choice on a ball hit to third. Watts was able to avoid the tag at third and leave the bases loaded with one out. Brian Merritt hit a sacrifice fly to plate Watts from third and make the lead 3-1.
Wilcox answered with a run of its own in the home half of the fifth. Jesse Reynolds and Mitchell Holmberg walked to lead off the inning. Josh Mitchell then hit into a fielder's choice to second, erasing Holmberg from the bases and leaving runners at the corners. Louie Imbrogno pinch ran for Mitchell and was caught in a rundown off a pickoff throw between first and second. Imbrogno was able to stay in the rundown long enough to allow Mitchell Holmberg to score from third and put the lead back to 4-1.
In the top of the sixth, Justin Beimel reached on a 1-out walk and Rocco Harshbarger singled to put runners on first and second. The two runners moved up on a passed ball to second and third which proved helpful for Fox Township. Austin Krise grounded out to score Beimel.
Zac Luhr walked with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Pinch runner Mitchell Vallone moved to second on a passed ball and scored as Frank Kocjancic blooped a single in between shortstop and left field. Kocjancic was 2-for-3 with two RBI. Kocjancic recently started hitting left-handed and coach Peterson said it is making a difference.
"Frankie is doing a great job batting lefty," coach Peterson said. "I just had him start hitting lefty. He's a right-hander. I had him start hitting lefty when we played Ridgway this year. I realized he could hit left-handed and I've been making him hit left ever since because he swings a lot harder bat and there he is with two big hits."
Johnsonburg used a trio of pitchers to get the win. Cole Peterson threw three shutout innings, Mitchell Holmberg allowed one run in 1 2-3 innings and Josh Mitchell allowed just one run in 2 1-3 innings to close the game. Coach Peterson said the pitchers all did a great job with Mitchell not allowing Fox Township to get back into the game.
"I told him to throw strikes and the guys will make the plays behind you," coach Peterson said.
Wilcox had only three hits in the game but reached three times on walks and took advantage of four Fox Township errors.
Wilcox is scheduled to host Smethport at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Fox Township AB R H BI
Brian Merritt 3 0 2 1
Bob Vollmer 4 0 0 0
Justin Quiggle 4 0 2 0
Justin Beimel 2 1 0 0 Rocco Harshbarger 3 0 1 0
Austin Krise 3 0 0 1
Brandon Vollmer 1 1 0 0
Robbie Watts 3 0 0 0
Luke Schreiber 2 0 0 0
Mike Fox 0 0 0 0
Totals 25 2 5 2
2B: Quiggle. SAC FLY: Merritt.
Wilcox AB R H BI
Cole Peterson 4 1 0 0
Jesse Reynolds 2 1 0 0 Mitchell Holmberg 3 0 1 1
Josh Mitchell 3 0 0 0
Joe Holmberg 3 1 0 0
Cameron Grumley 2 1 0 0
Zac Luhr 2 0 0 0
Frank Kocjancic 3 0 2 2
Louie Imbrogno 0 0 0 0
Mitchell Vallone 0 1 0 0
Totals 22 5 3 3
SAC BUNT: Q. Luhr.
R H E
Fox Township 000 011 0 - 2 5 4
Wilcox 100 211 x - 5 3 1
Fox Township IP H R BB K
Bob Vollmer 6 3 5 3 4
Wilcox IP H R BB K
C. Peterson 3 2 0 0 1
M. Holmberg 1.2 1 1 1 0
J. Mitchell 2.1 2 1 2 2