Kozak, Whitmer knock off Central Catholic

Blustery winds and chilly temperatures play role in prep baseball game

4/29/2014
BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Blustery winds and chilly temperatures played a role in Monday night's baseball game between Whitmer and Central Catholic.

Whitmer right-hander Nick Kozak was not completely warmed-up when he took the mound in the first inning and it led to Central jumping out to an early lead.

However, after giving up two runs in the opening frame, Kozak settled in and went the distance to help the Panthers take a 5-3 come-from-behind victory in a Three Rivers Athletic Conference contest.

"He didn't warm up enough, so he went in-between innings and went back and warmed up some more and he just bull-dogged it and played tough," Whitmer coach Gary O'Connor said. "He did what you expect your seniors to do."

Kozak, who allowed just six hits, received some much-needed offensive help late with Central (4-1, 7-3 TRAC) holding a 3-1 lead heading into the sixth inning.

Whitmer (2-3, 7-7) rallied for four runs in the sixth on six hits, including a run-scoring single by Shamus Dempsey with two out off Irish reliever Derich Weiland that gave the Panthers a 4-3 lead. Anthony Okdie followed by driving in another run with a single to left.

The two-run advantage proved to be more than enough for Kozak to close out the game by getting three of the four batters he faced in the seventh to hit into groundouts.

"That was huge," Kozak said of the sixth inning rally. "Every inning I ask them to give me some runs, give me some runs. This time they came through with some runs."

Central scored two runs on three hits in the first inning. DeShone Kizer drove in the first run with a single with two out before Richard O'Donnell came through with a run-scoring single.

Colin Kaucher gave the Irish a 3-0 lead when he tagged a RBI base hit in the third inning.

Central starter Patrick Schommer had held Whitmer to one run before he ran into trouble in the sixth, giving up a single, a walk, and a bunt-single to load the bases. He was replaced by Weiland, but Whitmer scored four in the inning.

"They [the Panthers] played a nice game and they did what they needed to do," Central coach Jeff Mielcarek said.

It was the fifth annual Survivor Game, which was established to honor cancer survivors or family members. Donations were collected and will be donated to Playing Hardball Against ALS.

Contact Donald Emmons at: demmons@theblade.com, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.