The record will show that it took Central Catholic five innings to dispatch Start yesterday in a baseball game at Joe E. Brown Park.
But in actuality the Irish needed just one inning - the second inning.
In a battle of teams elbowing for position to secure a berth in the City League playoff, Central toppled visiting Start 12-1 on the foundation of an 11-run second inning in which six batters made two plate appearances.
Only one Irish batter did not register a hit in a wacky second.
That player, Travis Mielcarek, contributed by laying down a sacrifice bunt and later driving in a run on a sacrifice fly. In all, Central totaled 10 hits in the inning - seven singles and three doubles - against starter Ryan Veres and reliever Julian Nino.
"We started seeing the ball better in the second inning," said Tyler Trame, who drove in three runs in the inning on two hits. "Once we got a couple of runs, we kept it going."
Even with the win, Central (14-5, 8-1) did not earn a bid in the four-team playoff, but there shouldn't be any immediate concerns that that invitation won't come. A win over Whitmer today or St. Francis on Thursday will guarantee the Irish a spot in the field. Start (15-6, 7-3) can qualify with a win over Whitmer on Friday.
Perhaps the biggest factor in yesterday's outcome centered on each staff's top pitcher. Central's Jeremy Spalding, who has been injured and hasn't thrown in two weeks, was strong in victory, while Start's No. 1, Andrew Lepiarz, played left field and will instead pitch in Thursday's sectional game against Northview. Veres, after throwing a 1-2-3 first inning, came unglued, allowing eight hits and six earned runs. A two-run double by Trame (3-for-3) prompted the switch to Nino.
"He's pitched well this year," Start coach Jason Biniker said of Veres. "He had a good first inning, but then they just hit the ball all over the place."
At first, Central wasn't hitting the ball much of anywhere. No. 4 hitter Kenny Wise led off the inning with a beautiful bunt toward third base, Mielcarek followed with a sacrifice bunt, and two batters later, Matt Cochell reached base on - yes - another bunt. Of the Irish's first six batters of the inning, only Trame's single exited the infield. After that, the power shortage was over. Leadoff hitter Kyle Burkhardt smacked a two-run double to left to make the score 4-1, and Troy Toland immediately followed with a two-run single. Mielcarek (sacrifice fly), Trame (two-run double), Cochell (RBI single), and Alex Geis (two-run double) continued the beating before Nino forced Jason Kelly to ground out to end the inning.
"The second inning was by far our best offensive inning of the year," Central coach Jeff Mielcarek said.
Wise added an RBI triple in the third to extend the lead to 12-1.
Start's lone run came on the first pitch of the game when Marty Ramirez smashed Spalding's offering off the scoreboard in right field. Spalding responded admirably, retiring the next five batters he faced and finishing the abbreviated game with eight strikeouts.
He ran into mild trouble with two outs in the second, allowing back-to-back singles to Veres and Lepiarz before striking out Josh Maurer to end the threat. Spalding struck out Maurer again to end the fourth with runners on first and second.
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