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Dragons end Dogs' season at 9-10

May 30, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Emotions were sky high for the Poland baseball team after it upset top-seeded West Branch in the district round of the Division II state baseball tournament.

Unfortunately, that excitement lasted less than 24 hours. One day after whipping the Warriors, Poland's boys were beaten 4-3 by Niles knocking them out of the playoffs. That loss last Tuesday not only ended the Bulldogs season with a 9-10 overall record, it killed the opportunity to have a delicious district championship showdown with archrival Canfield.

Although the Red Dragons seemed to have the game on their side throughout, the Bulldogs were able to make one last push in the top of the seventh inning. Trailing 4-2, Poland put runners on all the bases in an attempt to take a last second lead. Only one of those three base runners scored, however, as the game ended unceremoniously for the Bulldogs.

Fresh off his gutty effort against West Branch, Poland starting pitcher Matt Sperati was back at it again trying to slay the Dragons. Like the game one day earlier, Sperati was sporadic on the hill, but he was good enough to hold Niles to three earned runs while striking out five. Unlike the game versus the Warriors, Sperati wasn't backed by a bunch of offense, as his mates couldn't conjure up any big innings until that fateful final frame. Conversely, Niles starter Marco DeFalco was blowing the Bulldogs away with nine K's. He gave up just two earned runs to slightly outpitch his counterpart from Poland. Jeremy Castro knocked in two runs to help lead Poland's offense. Zach Yaskulka was 2 for 3 with an RBI.

It was well documented before the start of this season that this Poland group would be short on experience and that played a big role in the team's sub .500 season. The fact that they were able to capture two tournament wins over Ursuline and West Branch was a huge feather in their caps.

Losing seniors such as Sperati, Mike Masucci and Reed McCreery will certainly curtail the Poland club next spring, but most of the players head coach Rich Murray penciled into his starting lineup this year will be returning. Braeden O'Shaughnessy, Andrew Testa, Michael Farber, Cole Kosco, Alex Barth and Castro are some of the major contributors that will become seniors in 2019. They will now be counted upon to add that veteran leadership to their on field contributions. Yaskulka was only a sophomore this season so he should only get better as a junior. There are also a few younger Bulldogs that Coach Murray is excited to give more varsity innings to next spring.

Undoubtedly, Murray's men will need to get much better if they are to equal the team that was state semi finalist two years ago. With the players coming back, though, there is a decent shot at repeating the district championship won by the Bulldogs in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

 
 

 

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