It took two days, two pitchers and a four-run first inning, but the Pirates baseball team picked up a 6-2 win (12-11) over Sterling in the opening round of the South, Group 2 Tournament on Tuesday.
The win Tuesday snapped a four-game losing streak for the Pirates.
“I told them yesterday, we’re 0-0 right now,” head coach Kevin Merrill said. “It’s a brand new season. Now we’re 1-0 and we get to move on. We put the four-game losing streak behind us.”
The game began on Monday afternoon, but play was halted in the bottom of the fourth inning with the bases loaded and two outs due to lightning.
The lightning stopped, but the heavy rains came, forcing the game to be completed on Tuesday.
Jack Conville got the start on the mound Monday, throwing four innings and allowing just two unearned runs. Brandon Staub relieved Conville in the top of the fifth on Tuesday.
“I had to come in with the mindset to work ahead and trust the guys behind me,” Conville said. “When I have contact, I know the guys behind me are going to field it. I just wanted to keep my composure.”
He battled in the top of the first, stranding a runner at third to keep the game scoreless after Sterling put the first two batters of the game on base.
“We just wanted to keep our intensity up,” Conville said. “It was a bit of a letdown because of the rain yesterday, but once we scored today I knew we were going to win. There was no doubt in my mind.”
“I’m very proud of both of them for the poise they showed,” Merrill said. “Jack had to battle in the first inning to keep it scoreless. If they put up two or three it might have been a different game.”
Cinnaminson scored four runs in the bottom of the first on a two-run single from first baseman Mike Bednarek and an RBI double from catcher Mike McAndrews.
Second baseman Matt Overman plated the fourth run with an RBI groundout.
Sterling picked up its two runs in the top of the third when the Pirates infield committed two errors.
Cinnaminson loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth with two singles and a walk before play was halted.
When the game resumed today, Christian Massara was the batter. He worked the count full before striking out to end the inning.
Staub retired the side in order in the top of the fifth on Tuesday.
“It’s tough between two days, but me and Mike (McAndrews) agreed that we were going to come out here like we were starting the game from the first inning on,” Staub said. “That’s pretty much what I needed to do to get focused.”
“We knew going in that both of them might have to throw,” Merrill said. “We had the mentality if one of them struggled or if a scenario like this happened, we would need to go to both of them.
The Pirates plated a run in the bottom of the fifth on a two-out pinch hit single from Joe Cody that scored courtesy runner Robert Berry. Berry was running for McAndrews, who worked a two-out walk.
“I knew I was going in there with a man on second base and my best option would be a ground ball,” Cody said.
“There was one close pitch I didn’t swing at that was a ball. The next pitch was pretty much down the middle and I put a good swing on it to get Robert in.”
Cinnaminson added a sixth run in the bottom of the sixth on a Massara sacrifice fly that scored center fielder Mike Hess.
Staub worked around a one-out walk in the top of the seventh to secure the victory and record the save for Conville (3-3). Staub did not allow a hit in his three innings of work. He struck out three and walked three.
The Pirates will host #14 Collingswood on Thursday, May 26 at 4pm in the second round. The Panthers upset #3 Cedar Creek in the first round by a 14-6 score.
“We love the home game. They are a very scrappy team,” Merrill said. “They punched out, I think 18 hits. Not all of them were pretty hits, from what I’ve heard, but they found ways to get them through. That’s the sign of a well-coached team.”
“I know they’re going to be ready to go. We are going to have to match their intensity, if not beat it.”
Cinn City Sports will have coverage of the second round contest between the Pirates and Collingswood on Thursday.
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