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Poland boys attempt to battle back after tough four-game stretch

April 10, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Three losses over its past four games has slowed down an otherwise strong beginning to the 2019 season for the Poland baseball team.

Poland was doubled up at home by Champion 8-4 on the first pleasant weather day of the spring last Saturday afternoon. That put a cloud over the warm sunny start that Poland was enjoying. The loss was preceded by a 5-0 shutout at the hands of Austintown Fitch and a narrow 7-6 loss at South Range. That defeat to the Raiders marked the Bulldogs' first inside the newly formed Northeast 8 Conference. With both schools sitting on 1 loss in the league, it seems that it may be a two team race to reign in the first ever NE8 baseball crown.

The sorrow of that setback to South Range was short lived, however, as the Bulldogs bounced back one day later to edge the Raiders at home 10-9. Trailing 2-0, the Poland kids kicked it into gear in the home half of the second scoring seven times. The visitors began chipping away in the fourth scoring twice. They would come back in the top of the fifth and force home five runs to move ahead 9-7. It took three runs over the final two innings for Poland to pull out its rebound win over the Raiders. Leading the offensive charge for the victors were seniors Braden Olson and Braeden O'Shaughnessy. The "Killer B's" both belted homeruns in the win. Olson also hit a double and had three RBI's. O'Shaughnessy doubled as well and brought home two runs. Junior Mike Kushner collected two hits. He also worked 1 2/3 innings of relief to earn the pitching win. Senior Andrew Testa totaled two hits for the Bulldogs.

In Poland's other game against the Raiders away from home, it blew an early 5-0 lead. In the bottom of the fifth, the hosts hammered the Bulldogs for three runs to get back into the game. A four spot the final frame avenged South Range's only conference loss. Olson was outstanding for the Bulldogs going 3 for 4 with a double, a stolen base and three ribbies. O'Shaughnessy was a perfect 2 for 2 with an RBI. Seniors Jeremy Castro and Michael Farber combined for three runs with Castro capturing an RBI and Farber going 2 for 3. Junior Zach Yaskulka also knocked in a run.

The 5-0 loss to the Falcons on April 4 gained Fitch a sense of revenge. The Bulldogs blanked the Falcons 6-0 a week earlier. Foiling the Fitch hitters in the win was senior starting pitcher Alex Barth who tossed a complete game, three-hitter with four strikeouts.

Last Saturday afternoon's dud against Champion was another blemish on the Bulldogs, but not the end of the world. They still own a winning record and are tied for the lead in the league. Conference action against Lakeview was set to take place earlier this week. Monday's match was at Lakeview with Tuesday's tilt at home. Another home game versus Boardman was set for April 11. Like Lakeview, the Spartans' season has been mediocre so far as well so it should be a good string of three ballgames to get the Bulldogs back on the right track. A home-in-home series with NE8 nemesis Girard is on next week's slate. Two wins over the Indians will be helpful in the Poland boys' battle for the league's top spot with South Range.



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