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MILLBURY - Lake right-hander Josh Tantari gave up a base hit to Elmwood’s T.J. Waldock to open Wednesday’s key Suburban Lakes League matchup.
And for a brief moment it looked like a long evening ahead on the mound for the Flyers ace.
Yet, Tantari didn’t allow another base hit from the next 24 batters he faced en route to pitching a two-hitter and leading Lake to a 4-1 victory over preseason league favorite Elmwood.
Tantari went the distance, striking out nine and walking seven to help the Flyers improve to 19-3 overall and 8-0 in the SLL.
“I wanted to throw strikes and punch the strike zone,” said Tantari, whose only other allowed hit came when Jeff Vanscoder led off the seventh inning with a single. “I hit my spots and my curveball was working today.”
Tantari received more than enough help from the Flyers’ bats to improve his record to 6-0.
Lake scored two runs in the first inning off Elmwood right-hander T.J. Waldock and another two runs in the third inning. Kurt McKee went 3-for-3 at the plate and drove in three RBI while Ryan Kohlhofer tagged a solo shot for his fourth home run of the season to power the Flyers’ offense, which totaled six hits off Waldock.
“It was a fastball and I like the fastball,” said Kohlhofer, referring to the pitch he lifted over the left field fence.
Lake coach Greg Wilker thought the Flyers did a solid job of responding well to playing against the defending league champion Royals (14-4, 5-2 SLL).
“It was a big win and like I told them, it’s still a long ways to go in the season,” Wilker said. “The kids have stepped up all season long this year.
“They’re scrappy and competitive.”
McKee gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead when he stroked a two-out single to center that allowed two baserunners to reach home plate. Tantari had reached base on an error and Corey Hotmer made his way to first base on a walk before McKee delivered the clutch hit.
But Elmwood made it 2-1 in the third inning without recording a hit. Waldock, who led off the inning by reaching base on a Lake error, eventually scored the Flyers’ only run of the game when he made it home safely on a fielder’s choice groundout by Conlan Varty.
Lake responded with two more runs in the third to make it 4-1. With two outs, Kohlhofer homered and McKee tagged a run-scoring single during the frame.
“We’ve been getting key two-out hits and playing seven innings hard all season,” Wilker said.
Elmwood coach Kyle Reiser credited the Flyers for putting together a solid effort in the key league matchup.
“Overall we did alright,” Reiser said. “Their pitcher did a nice job mixing up his pitches and we just couldn’t hit the ball.”
Meanwhile, Waldock struggled with his control against Lake. He went the distance for the Royals, but allowed six hits, walked one and hit two batters.
“We played hard,” Waldock said. “I wish I could’ve thrown more strikes, but we aren’t too worried about the loss because we know we’ll see them again.”
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