BEAVER FALLS South Lewis had bludgeoned its way through the Frontier League baseball season, averaging over 14 runs a game in league play and treating opposing pitchers like so much batting practice fodder.
Yet, when the Falcons finally were held in check at the plate Monday, they found a way to win a big game despite failing to deliver in several key situations.
Junior right-hander Jason Martin struck out 13 despite not having his best stuff, and South Lewis took advantage of some sloppy infield play from host Beaver River to score four unearned runs and post a 6-5 C Division victory.
The win all but clinched the regular season title for South Lewis, which improved to 13-1 overall, 12-1 league. Beaver River fell to 9-2, with both of its losses coming against South Lewis.
Its not the way we usually win, but well take it, said South Lewis coach Chad Brown, whose team managed nine hits, including four of the infield variety. Today we did what we had to do, and sometimes thats OK against a good team.
Beaver River was its own worst enemy, committing five errors, four of which led directly to South Lewis runs. On a day when the Beavers made Martin work extra hard, coach Matt Lyndakers team couldnt put South Lewis away.
Weve been fielding the ball pretty well, but today we just threw it around too much on routine plays, Lyndaker said. Its too bad because I thought Christian (Widrick) pitched a heck of a game for a sophomore.
Widrick, whose poise impressed Lyndaker enough to start the youngster in such an important game, went five strong innings and allowed only one earned run and six hits. But he was victimized by three Beaver infield errors in the top of the sixth.
In that inning, South Lewis scored all three runs without hitting a ball out of the infield. The Falcons also scored a run in the top of the sixth on a Dominick Ventura single, a stolen base and two wild pitches from reliever Samuel Widrick.
Its good to know that we can score some runs without hitting the ball all over the field, Brown said. We havent had many close games, so this can only help us as we head into the postseason.
Beaver River jumped on Martin for three runs in the bottom of the first after South Lewis scored one in its first at-bat.
Kyle Steiner delivered a big two-out RBI single for Beaver Rivers first run, and Samuel Widrick doubled to right to score the second and third runs.
Martin, coming off a complete-game, 15-strikeout effort vs. Lowville last Friday, struggled to find his release point most of the game.
I certainly had trouble locating most of the game, he said. Theyve got some good hitters, and I was falling behind too many times. But I still felt pretty strong at the end, and I wanted to finish them off.
Martin worked out of trouble in the third, leaving runners on second and third. He converted a big strikeout to end the Beaver River fifth with two runners aboard. And he struck out two batters each in the sixth and seventh innings.
That wasnt vintage Jason, Brown said. But you know hes going to give you all he has right to the end.
Martin, Kelly and Pleskach each finished with two hits for South Lewis.
Corey Stevens was 3-for-4 for Beaver River.
Beaver River catcher Erik Lyndaker was hit in the nose by a Martin pitch in the sixth. He was unconscious for a few moments, and bled profusely before being taken to the hospital for observation.