DAGUS MINES – The Fox Township Post 511 American Legion baseball team gave the undefeated Wilcox squad a run for their money early on in Monday evening's match-up in Fox Township, but Wilcox's bats finally came alive late in the game and the team used good defense to hand Fox a 10-2 loss to end their regular season.
Wilcox manager Jeff Peterson indicated that Fox's slower pitching initially threw off his batters, remarking that they need "to adjust a lot faster" than they did.
"We can't wait around that long," Peterson said. "There were opportunities they (Fox) had where they could have got a few runs more and we could have been in a real heap of trouble."
Five players spent time on the mound for Wilcox during the contest. Jesse Reynolds started the game and worked two and two-thirds innings, giving up three hits, walking one, and striking out two. Quinn Luhr took over for one and one-third innings, walking one and striking out three. Mitch Holmberg worked one-third of an inning, giving up one hit and intentionally walking one batter. Josh Mitchell took over for one and two-thirds innings, walking one while striking out three. Taylor Feronti worked the final inning, striking out one.
Fox Township also saw several players given the opportunity to pitch. Alexx Tyger started the game, working five and one-third innings and giving up eight hits, walking four, and striking out four. Branden Tyger took over for two-thirds of an inning, giving up two hits. Caleb Lecker also worked two-thirds of an inning, giving up two hits and walking one. Luke Schreiber finished the final one-third of an inning, giving up three hits while walking one.
Wilcox recorded a total of 15 hits in the contest. Cole Peterson, Jesse Reynolds, Josh Mitchell, Taylor Feronti, and Frank Kocjancic each had a pair of singles. Mitchell Holmberg, Joe Holmberg, Ben MacDonald, Kyle Sheldon, and Cameron Grumley also each singled.
Fox had four hits, led by Brian Merritt with a pair of singles. Luke Schreiber and Branden Tyger also each singled.
Both teams left runners on base in the first inning. After Peterson led off by grounding out to second, Reynolds and Mitch Holmberg both recorded singles. After Mitchell struck out swinging, Reynolds and Holmberg each picked up another base on a passed ball, but were left stranded as Joe Holmberg also struck out. Fox did not fare much better in the home half of the inning. Merritt singled, but was then taken out at second as Schreiber hit into a double play. Facing a full count, Justin Quiggle fouled off several times before getting a free pass to first on a balk by Reynolds, but Quiggle was unable to advance any further as Branden Tyger flied out to the second baseman to end the inning and keep the game scoreless.
After a pair of quick outs in the top of the second, Grumley singled for Wilcox, but was stuck at first as Kocjancic struck out. Fox found themselves facing the same scenario as Brandon Vollmer and Brandon Schlimm struck out and grounded out, respectively, before Lucas Lovenduski reached base on a walk. Lovenduski was also unable to advance as Alexx Tyger grounded out to the first baseman to end the inning.
Wilcox got closer to scoring in the top of the third, leaving the bases loaded. After Peterson again grounded out to the second baseman for the first out, Reynolds advanced to first after being hit by a pitch. Mitch Holmberg flied out to left for the second out, and then Mitchell and Joe Holmberg both walked to load the bases. Wilcox was unable to score though as MacDonald struck out looking. Fox finally pushed through their first and only runs of the contest in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Merritt reached base on an error and advanced to second on a single by Schreiber. After Quiggle hit a line drive to the second baseman for out number two, Branden Tyger singled to left, scoring Merritt. Vollmer also reached base on an error, scoring Schrieber and advancing Tyger to second. Luhr took over on the mound, and Schlimm grounded out to the shortstop to end the inning with Fox ahead 2-0.
Wilcox tied things up in the top of the fourth. After one out, Grumley walked and advanced to second on a single by Kocjancic. A single by Peterson scored Grumley, and a sacrifice bunt by Reynolds scored Kocjancic, tying the game at 2-all. Anthony Cesa entered in place of Lovenduski to lead off the bottom of the inning for Fox, but he went down swinging. Alexx Tyger walked, giving the Post 511 squad a chance to retake the lead, but as Michael Fox struck out, Tyger took off for second and was thrown out by the Wilcox catcher to keep the game tied.
Neither team was able to score in the fifth inning, though each left a runner on base. After Mitchell grounded out to third, Joe Holmberg singled was was thrown out at second on a fielder's choice by MacDonald. MacDonald was left at first as Sheldon flied out to center. Merritt led off with a single for Fox and advanced on a fielder's choice that saw Schreiber ground out to the shortstop. Wilcox intentionally walked Quiggle, giving Fox a pair of base runners, but Branden Tyger hit into a double play on a line-drive to Peterson, who also tagged second, to end the inning.
Wilcox took over the lead in the top of the sixth with a pair of runs and never looked back. Feronti led off with a single and, with Kocjancic up to bat, tried to steal second but was thrown out by the Fox catcher. Kocjancic ended up walking and advanced to second on a single by Peterson. A single by Reynolds scored Kocjancic and sent Peterson to second. Mitch Holmberg grounded out to the pitcher, allowing Peterson and Reynolds to each advance a base. Mitchell singled, scoring Peterson, but Wilcox's momentum was temporarily halted there as Joe Holmberg brought about the third out with a fielder's choice that saw Mitchell out at second. Mitchell was on the mound for Wilcox in the bottom of the inning, fanning the first two batters, walking Levenduski, who reentered for Cesa, and then striking out Alexx Tyger to preserve his squad's 4-2 lead.
Wilcox put the game away in the top of the seventh, scoring six more runs. MacDonald started things off by reaching base on an error. After Sheldon flied out to right center for the team's first out, Feronti singled, sending MacDonald to third, and then MacDonald scored on a single by Kocjancic. Peterson grounded out to the second baseman for the third time in the game, scoring Feronti in the process and allowing Kocjancic to reach third. C.J. Herbstritt walked, putting runners on the corners, and Mitch Holmberg hit a fielder's choice that found all of Wilcox's runners safe as Kocjancic scored and Herbstritt reached third. A single by Mitchell scored Herbstritt and sent Holmberg to second. Joe Holmberg walked, loading the bases, and Mitch Holmberg scored as MacDonald singled. A single by Sheldon scored Mitchell, and then Feronti brought about the third out as he hit a foul ball to left that was caught by Fox's third baseman. Wilcox left the bases loaded, but increased their lead to 10-2. Feronti took over on the mound for Wilcox in the bottom of the inning, keeping Fox from scoring. Michael Fox led off by reaching base on an error, but was unable to advance as Merritt struck out and Schreiber hit into a double play on a line-drive to the pitcher, ending the game and giving Wilcox the 10-2 win.
Fox Township finished their regular season with an 8-6 record and will enter the Elk County League playoffs as the number four seed. They will host fifth seeded Smethport on Sunday, July 8 at 5:30 p.m., with the winner of that contest advancing to face Wilcox on Monday at 5:30 p.m.
Wilcox (13-0) has secured the top spot in the Elk County League playoffs and will end their regular season tonight as they host Port Allegany.
Even though the contest against Fox did not mean anything for Wilcox in terms of playoff seeding, Peterson noted that his squad still needs to pick things up a notch.
"We're not playing at a high enough level right now to do any damage in the playoffs, I'll tell you that right now. We need to pick it up," Peterson said. "I think the kids are getting a little worn down. I think they need a little break, but we're going to play tomorrow and then they'll get a good layoff until they (playoffs) get started, and hopefully we'll pick it up a notch."