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Published: Saturday, 5/30/2009

Anthony Wayne Generals march on

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN -Admittedly, it wasn't Mike Frank's best game on the mound this season. But the Anthony Wayne senior right-hander managed well enough thanks to some solid offensive and defensive support in a 9-4 win Friday night over St. Francis de Sales in a Division I regional baseball semifinal at Bowling Green's Steller Field.

The Generals (20-8) banged out 15 hits and played errorless defense, including fine catches from center fielder Jordan Schwerer (on a dive) and right fielder Anthony Meyers, the latter a leaping grab at the fence on Mike McNamara's game-ending drive.

Frank, AW's ace, pitched a complete game, allowing seven hits and striking out six in raising his season record to 8-1. He survived a pair of St. Francis home runs.

"I definitely didn't have my best stuff today, but I was happy with the way I fought through everything," Frank said.

"I got great support from my team. It really gives you a boost of confidence when you know, if they hit it, there's a good chance we're going to make a nice play on it. I can just relax and throw the ball."

Anthony Wayne, which advanced to its second regional final in four years, will take on state power Cleveland St. Ignatius (23-7) in Saturday's 2 p.m. regional championship game at Shelby. St. Ignatius, the 2008 state runner-up, reached the state semis in 2007 and won the D-I state title in 2002. The Wildcats beat Strongsville 4-2 Friday night to advance.

AW staked Frank to a 2-0 lead in the first on DH Greg Buckley's RBI triple, and a two-out dropped popup by Knights second baseman Lee Lukasik to score Buckley.

R.J. Rios answered with a solo homer to left in the bottom of the first, but Schwerer's RBI single added a run in the second, and three straight two-out hits in the third made it 5-1. Buckley's single was followed by Sam Fischer's triple and Josh Ward's RBI single.

"We just went up there with confidence," said Buckley, who led the hit parade with a 3-for-4 effort. "We knew we could hit [Knights starter Fortunato]. A lot of us faced him when we were younger.

"This is a great feeling. We definitely deserve this from all we went through this season. We didn't win the [Northern Lakes] league, but we've got another goal we can achieve."

When the Knights' Jordan Koppenhofer followed teammate Steve Joyce's RBI triple with a two-run homer to right in the fourth, St. Francis was back within 5-4.

"They kept the pressure on us," Knights coach Tim Gerken said. "They played the side of the game that we wanted to play today. They scored in every inning but one, and we couldn't get the key out when we needed it.

"We were right where we wanted to be [in fourth inning], because we were hitting Frank hard. But hat's off to them."

The hot-swinging Generals added a run on Ward's second RBI single of the game in the fifth, two more on Devin East's two-run single in the sixth, and an insurance run on Jack Henry's RBI single in the seventh.

"It was nice to put some hits and runs on the board," AW coach Mark Nell said. "We swung the bats very well, and we had to do that. Mike Frank just kept battling.

"I don't think he had his best stuff, but he competed and gave us a chance to win, and the guys came around with some big hits all the way through the lineup. It wasn't just one or two guys. And, we made some nice defensive plays also."

Contact Steve Junga at:

sjunga@theblade.com

or 419-724-6461.



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