CONNORVILLE - Hitting and pitching have not been an issue for Buckeye Local this season, despite its 6-8 record heading into Monday's hosting of Buckeye 8 rival Union Local.
Now fielding on the other hand is a different story entirely at least until recently.
"Our fielding has cost us," Buckeye Local coach Rick DeLuca said after Monday's 11-2 triumph against the Jets. "We'd spend seven innings chasing people. But the last two or three games, we've really picked it up and have been fielding well."
That was the case Friday as pitcher Eric Williams, while not overpowering, was solid through seven, keeping the ball down and allowing his teammates to do the work behind him.
Williams struck out three, walked four and did a nice job mixing his pitches and speeds, just enough to keep the UL hitters from honing in.
"Eric did a nice job," Jets' coach Mark Cisar offered. "He threw strikes and mixed it up, changed speeds and kept us off balance."
Williams had one off inning, when Matt Dunfee and Justin Riley led off the second with back-to-back base hits, eventually scoring on a pair of sacrifices.
"Williams has really come on and developed into a solid number three starter," DeLuca said.
The Panthers struck early and often, displaying solid play at the plate mixed with a knack for taking advantage of what the visitors were giving.
DeLuca wasn't hesitant with the go-sign as Buckeye swiped five bases. The Panthers also took advantage of four walks, three hit batsmen and four errors by the visitors.
All nine starters reached base safely either via hit or error for Buckeye.
The key was the bottom half of the second.
After watching UL plate a pair to knot the score at 2-2, DeLuca's club answered with three runs in the third.
Brian Zeroski got it going with a one-out single. Zeroski then swiped second before watching Dominic Rose trot down to first after being beaned.
Jonathan Roth reached on an error to load the bases. A sacrifice from Josh Sokolowski scored one run. One out later, Shane Duncan drove in another on a single. A failed pickoff attempt at third allowed Roth to score for the inning's third and final run.
Buckeye led 5-2 and after Williams shut down UL in the third, the Panthers tacked on three more in the home half of the third to start to pull away.
"We need to make the routine plays," Cisar said. "The walks and errors killed us."
Jonathan Borkoski had a big day, driving in four runs and finishing with two singles while Austin Marshall drove in two with two base hits.
Buckeye (7-8), which gave a boost to its OVAC tournament hopes, has a huge game today as the Panthers play host to Class 5A's John Marshall.
Union Local, meanwhile, has another tough one as the Jets hit the road to take on red-hot Wheeling Park up on the hilltop.
Union Local 020 000 0 2 5 4
Buckeye 233 120 x 11 9 0
Batteries: McKivitz, Burnett (4) and Burnett, Curry (4). Williams and Sokolowski.
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