ST. MARYS – The Johnsonburg Rams picked up a 7-0 shutout victory over the Elk County Catholic Crusaders at Berwind Park on Monday afternoon. Cole Peterson went the distance for the Rams, giving up just two hits while striking out 14.
"It was an outstanding game," said Johnsonburg coach Jeff Peterson. "At the start of the game we only planned on running him (Cole) three innings, but he's a competitor. He was throwing real good and he felt like a million bucks. He said 'I want to go,' so the kids made the decision-- do you want to ride him the whole game and then not have him for Wednesday? Everybody was good with it. He was cranking. I think he threw great."
"Cole filled up the strike zone and we left way too many fastball strikes go by. We watched way too many pitches tonight," said ECC coach Tom Zampogna.
Johnsonburg started off with three runs in the first inning, added another in the third, and put the game away with three more in the sixth, all while holding ECC scoreless.
"We had a couple errors in the first inning, gave up a couple unearned runs, and from that point forward we got down and we just never picked ourselves up," Zampogna said. "I think they'll be okay going forward. Hopefully they learn from it and move on. We've got a lot of young kids."
Jack Herzing started on the mound for the Crusaders, working four innings and giving up two hits, walking two, and striking out four. Joe Childs worked the final three innings, walking four and striking out two.
CJ Herbstritt and Frank Kocjancic both singled for the Rams.
"The kids put the ball in play, everybody, even my bottom. Devon Zilcoski, I think he battled a few times. CJ Herbstritt came around and hit the ball. Quinn, Mitchell, everybody put the ball in play. That's what it's about," Peterson said. "I said as long as we put the ball in play [and have] no strikeouts, we're going to hang around. We're going to be tough to beat."
Ivan Wortman led the Crusaders with a double, while Vincent Jacob singled.
"They (ECC) are a tough team. They're young and they're definitely going to be there in the end. It's going to be them and us in the end battling again. They're going to be a lot better than they are now," Peterson said.
"Today's just a bad day for them, good day for us," he added.
After picking up two strikes right away, Cole Peterson held on to walk to first to start off the opening inning, and he advanced to second on a fielder's choice that saw Cameron Grumley thrown out at first. Mitchell Holmberg struck out to bring up the second out for the Rams. Quinn Luhr made it to first on an error, which also saw Peterson make it to third. Another error allowed CJ Herbstritt to reach base while Peterson and Luhr both scored to put Johnsonburg on the board. Frank Kocjancic took advantage of a dropped third strike to make it on base and Herbstritt scored. Kyle Sheldon flied out to center field to end the top of the inning, with Johnsonburg holding a 3-0 lead. After Vincent Jacob singled to reach base to start off the bottom half of the inning, the next three batters went down in order to prevent the Crusaders from cutting into the Rams' advantage.
Both teams went down in order in the second inning.
With two outs in the top of the third, Luhr again reached base on an error, advanced to second on a single by Herbstritt, and scored on a single by Kocjancic. Sheldon flied out to right field, leaving both Herbstritt and Kocjancic on base with the team now holding a 4-0 lead. The Crusaders went down in order in the bottom half of the inning.
Devon Zilcoski started out the top of the fourth by reaching base for the Rams on another dropped third strike. Dylon DeLong struck out. Peterson walked, advancing Zilcoski to second. Grumley reached base on a fielder's choice that saw Peterson thrown out at second while Zilcoski advanced to third. The Rams were unable to capitalize on their base runners though as Holmberg flied out to center field to bring about the team's third out. ECC went down in order in the bottom of the inning.
In the top of the fifth inning, Luhr flied out to right field for the Rams' first out. Herbstritt walked but was thrown out trying to steal second. Kocjancic also walked but was thrown out at third on a fielder's choice that would have seen Sheldon reach base. The Crusaders again went down in order in the home half of the inning.
The Rams added their final three runs in the top of the sixth. Zilcoski started things off by walking and advancing to second as Luke Schrefler reached base on an error. A fielder's choice saw Peterson thrown out at first base while advancing both Zilcoski and Schrefler. Grumley flied out to center field, scoring Zilcoski in the process. Holmberg made it to second on an error on the center fielder, while Schrefler scored. Luhr also reached base on an error that saw Holmberg score. Herbstritt struck out to end the top of the inning with Johnsonburg ahead 7-0. ECC's batters went down in order in the bottom of the inning.
With two outs in the top of the seventh, Zilcoski walked to put a runner on base for the Rams; however, he was unable to advance as Schrefler struck out. In the bottom half of the inning, Dan Singer was unable to beat the throw to first, putting the Rams within two outs of the victory. Ivan Wortman doubled to give ECC a chance at getting on the board, but the next two batters went down in order, ending the game and giving the Rams the 7-0 win.
Both teams are scheduled to be back in action on Wednesday. Johnsonburg will host the Brockway Rovers at the Knothole Area Recreational Park in Johnsonburg at 4:15 p.m. ECC will travel to DuBois Central Catholic to take on the Cardinals in a match-up also set for 4:15 p.m.