Brooke powers past Red Riders
WELLSBURG – With two runs in the top of the first inning against Brooke on Friday, Weir High coach Jason Angle was encouraged that his team was turning a corner.
“I was excited,” he said. “We were hitting the ball real well.”
But Bruins starting pitcher Mario Lombardi settled down and ended up throwing a gem. The junior finished with nine strikeouts, only walking one, and allowed just four hits in Brooke’s 13-2 five-inning victory.
The Bruins pounded out 13 hits, with Russell Schwertfeger hitting a single, two doubles and a home run on senior night in Wellsburg.
“We came through,” said Brooke coach Ron Ujcich. “All of our seniors were out there tonight playing and they did a great job.
“We hit the ball real well through the order.”
Schwertfeger led off the bottom of the first with a double and scored on Heath Hildreth’s two-bagger, two batters later. Hildreth scored on Chad Harper’s double and came around on an error. Nick Ossman reached base and scored on Mario Lombardi’s RBI single.
“They’re a really fine hitting team,” Angle said.
Schwertfeger’s homer led off the second inning and the Bruins (17-7) plated three more in the third inning and five in fourth.
“We just couldn’t match what they were doing,” Angle said. “Our bats went silent.”
Mitch Viakely and Will Larch each singled and scored in the first inning for the Red Riders (4-13). Michael Curtis had an RBI single to cap three-straight hits for Weir in the first inning.
Lombardi struck out the side in the second and wouldn’t allow another hit until Kody Knight’s infield single in the fifth.
“Mario threw a nice game on the mound,” Ujcich said. “He settled down and kept the ball down like we asked him to. He was mixing it up. Once he was able to get out of that first inning he had some confidence.
“He was throwing the curveball for a strike more consistently. He got his release point down. He’s throwing the changeup for a strike, then he was able to blow it by them with a fastball. He kept them off guard. They didn’t know what was coming.”
Hildreth finished with three doubles at the plate. Ethan Sole added two singles, while Matt Mazzone and David Hardisty each had hits.
Sole, Mazzone, Hildreth, Schwertfeger, Hardisty, Ossman and Kelean Welch are Brooke’s seniors.
It travels to John Marshall on Monday for a make up game, then hosts the Monarchs on Tuesday for another make up for the sectional tournament.
“We’re on a little bit of a roll here,” Ujcich said. “We’d like to keep things rolling and especially keep the hitting going.
“We’re going to need that in the sectional. If we play like we did today, we’ll be in good shape.”
Weir begins sectional play on Wednesday at Oak Glen.
“Hopefully we can get some more practice in before then,” Angle said. “We just have to start making the routine plays.”