Johnsonburg baseball wins season opener over Brookville

JOHNSONBURG – Johnsonburg baseball won 5-1 over Brookville on a crisp Monday afternoon at Knothole Area Recreational Park to open up the season. The Rams got strong pitching from the tandem of Cole Peterson and Mitchell Holmberg as the two held the Raiders to a single run in the fourth inning. Peterson went 4 1-3 innings and allowed a run on two hits with a walk and eight strikeouts. Holmberg closed the deal as he pitched 2 2-3 scoreless innings. "It's nice starting out with a win," Johnsonburg coach Jeff Peterson said. "I think Cole threw a gem of a game for not getting a whole lot of throwing time with him in the basketball tournament so late. He did a great job. He stepped up, he threw what he needed to throw. Mitchell came in and did a good job." Peterson was lifted with one out in the fifth after he recorded his eighth strikeout. Coach Peterson said he didn't want to stretch his starter's arm any further at this early juncture. "Cole was looking real good, we figured we'd ride Cole a little longer than we wanted to," coach Peterson said. "He got up to about 75 pitches, we figured that was enough." Brookville starter Nathan St. Laurent had trouble finding the plate in the opening inning and walked both Cameron Grumley and Mitchell Holmberg before surrendering a long single to Quinn Luhr which plated Grumley for the game's first run. C.J. Herbstritt reached on a Brookville error to load the bases and Frank Kocjancic followed with a walk to score Holmberg. St. Laurent would get consecutive strikeouts to end the inning. The Rams would add a pair of runs once again in the second inning. After a strikeout, Peterson walked and Holmberg reached on a Brookville error. Luhr would score both runners with a double as Johnsonburg took a 4-0 lead. Luhr batted cleanup for the Rams and did just that with a 4-for-4 showing and three RBI. "Quinn had a couple nice hits for us," coach Peterson said. The Rams added a fifth run in the third inning. Devon Zilcoski led off the inning with a walk. After a groundout, Kyle Sheldon roped a single. Peterson put down the a squeeze play which scored Zilcoski. "Cole did the squeeze, it worked out nice," coach Peterson said. Brookville would score its lone run in the fourth inning, taking advantage of walks. Zane Hackett walked with two outs and Brock Beitz singled. Nathan Bonfardine walked to load the bases and AJ Skerkavich walked to score Hackett to cut the margin to 5-1. Peterson got a strikeout to end the inning and keep the Johnsonburg lead at four. Brookville had a chance to cut into the margin in the sixth inning. Hackett led off with a long single to left center field. After a groundout, Bonfardine and Skerkavich were walked to load the bases. Holmberg was able to get Dakota Singleton to ground into a 1-2-3 double play to end the threat and end the inning. After two quick outs in the seventh inning, Pat Brush and Tyler Dombrowski singled. Hackett grounded out to short to end the game. The Raiders had trouble staying out of the double play. Seth Connor opened the game by reaching on a Johnsonburg error. The Rams were able to turn a 4-6-3 double play off a grounder from Brush. In the third inning, St. Laurent was able to reach with a 1-out single but was doubled off by Luhr at first base on a line drive which was caught off the bat of Connor. Coach Peterson said Johnsonburg getting a win against Brookville is a good way to start the season. "Brookville's a quality team, that's why we stayed with our top guns," coach Peterson said. "It's a big win. You start the season with a quality win and they're a quality team. They're a good team. Hackett scares the crap out of me, he could hit it out every time he's up. I look at that as a real quality win and I'll take it any way I can get it."Moving forward, coach Peterson said the bottom third of the lineup will have make some noise."Kyle Sheldon did a good job hitting the ball a couple times and made a nice catch in the outfield," coach Peterson said. "We're young in some spots at the bottom. I've said that our bottom three has to make it happen, we're going to need something out of the bottom three. If we get something out of the bottom three, then we throw Taylor Feronti back into the mix, we'll get a better lineup." Johnsonburg (1-0) is scheduled to play again at 4:15 p.m. Thursday as the Rams will host Kane. "Our numbers are small but our talent's high," coach Peterson said. "We played pretty good ball for the first game. Defensively, we were strong, we looked good."