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Spartans stand even with 10-10 record

Win home-and-home doubleheader against the Raiders

April 27, 2017
By Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

With just a few games remaining in the regular season, the Boardman High School baseball team stands even with an 10-10 record.

There is still a mathematical chance the Spartans can capture at least a tie of the All-American Conference Red Tier title.

There were two games earlier this week against conference cousin Warren G. Harding Monday and Tuesday and two more next week against mighty Poland.

Boardman then closes the campaign against rival Canfield with a home-and-home series May 8 and 9.

His boys may have to run the conference table to raise a championship banner, but head coach Joe Gabriel is certain they won't go down without a fight.

"I think we have given ourselves a chance to get back into the conference race and make a run come tournament time," he said.

One reason why the coach is so confident his kids can pick up some important wins is because of what he saw on the team's spring break trip to Florida.

The Spartans took Tampa by storm, and although they lost two enormous games to legendary IMG Academy, they were able to upend Canisius of New York, 11-1.

"We had a good trip," Gabriel said. "We were able to play consistently with the great weather and we played good competition. The team came together, which will be good for the team environment the rest of the year."

Since the trip down south, Gabriel's gang has split four games.

Boardman was tripped up by Toronto, 7-4, April 17 thanks in part to three unearned runs given up by the Spartans. Luke Cardillo and Mike Fetsko had two hits in the losing cause.

One day later, Boardman was able to bounce back with a 7-0 shutout of Hubbard at home. Dylan Gurski was in a groove on the mound, allowing just two hits and striking out seven Eagles in a complete game victory.

The Spartans scored two runs in the bottom of the first, which is really all they needed thanks to Gurski's hurling. Three more runs in the third and a pair in the sixth eliminated the Eagles all together.

Coleman Stauffer slapped two hits and knocked home three runs. Gavin Strines singled twice.

The Spartans also had a huge showdown with 14-2 Steubenville on April 20. Usually when these two schools meet, it's for bragging rights on the gridiron, but the April 20 thriller could have matched any of those past historic pigskin encounters.

Down 2-0 in the top of the seventh, the Big Red tied the game on a two-run home run. That comeback set up Fetsko's heroics in the home half of the frame.

After Cam Kreps reached base for Boardman, Fetsko brought him home with a walk-off hit and a 3-2 victory.

Noah Land defended Boardman from the hill, throwing three-hit ball over 6 1/3 innings. Land also struck out seven Steubenville hitters.

Despite Land's fine throwing, it was Nick Augustine who picked up the win in relief.

Luke Cardillo had a double and a single the next day at Massillon Perry, but it wasn't enough as the Panthers edged Boardman, 3-2. Conner Mille and Dom Stilliana also had two hits for the Spartans.

The way his team was picking up key hits last week has shown Gabriel how far his offense has come since it struggled in early April. Those clutch at bats are something that may help spur the Spartans to success the rest of this season.

"Our timing at the plate is better right now," he said. "Getting consistent at bats (in Tampa) helped us improve a lot."

The local boys lost Saturday's game against Crestview, 0-2, before battling Warren G. Harding Monday at home and Tuesday on the road. Boardman won both games of the home-and-home doubleheader against the Raiders, 9-4 and 5-1, respectively.

The Spartans battled the Niles McKinley Red Dragons Wednesday before taking on North Canton Hoover 5 p.m. Friday on the road.



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