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Bulldogs earn number two seed in tournament

May 8, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Six wins in a row has helped propel the Poland baseball team into a very lofty position in the approaching Division II state playoffs.

Poland's boys will enter the Struthers Sectional as the number two seed and have earned a first round bye. That slots them right behind former arch nemesis Canfield who earned the top seeding in last Sunday's selections. On May 15, Poland will play the winner of the opening round game between number 7 seed Hubbard and eighth seeded Girard in the sectional finals.

Before beginning the postseason, the Bulldogs still have some unfinished business to take care of in the regular season. Two recent wins over Hubbard and one over Niles has kept the Bulldogs nipping on the heels of first place South Range in the Northeast 8 Conference. The Raiders are 11-1 in the infant league while Poland sits one game behind them at 10-2. The Bulldogs commenced this week in need of a sweep of Struthers in order to stay in the chase. Of course, if South Range doesn't slip up at least once in their remaining conference tilts it won't matter what Poland does in its games.

Article Photos

Photos by Mike Audi, Town Crier

Poland's Alex Barth throws a strike at last Wednesday's (May 1) home win over Niles. Barth pitched for 51/2 innings to deliver a 6-4 win and had 1 RBI at bat for the Dogs.

It did matter last week when the Bulldogs beat the Eagles twice by almost identical scores. Last Monday evening in Poland, the home squad stuck it to Hubbard 8-2. The Bulldogs came back a coupled days later and eliminated the Eagles 8-3 on their home diamond. Both wins were made possible by pretty awesome Poland pitching.

In Monday's matchup, senior Braden Olson befuddled Hubbard's hitters giving up two runs on four hits in a complete game triumph. Olson also struck out eight. Poland trailed 2-1 then scored seven unanswered runs to turn this game into a laugher. Senior M.J. Farber fired up the offense going 3 for 3 with a double and a run batted in. Senior Braeden O'Shaughnessy had a double as part of his two hit performance.

In the second win over Hubbard, senior Jared Knight cast darkness over the Eagles' lineup for six innings. He gave up three runs on three hits and struck out three. Senior Robbie Seitz worked one inning to pick up the save for Poland. The game was tied 3-3 in the top of the third when senior Jeremy Castro cracked a go-ahead three-run double for the Bulldogs. That bases clearing hit allowed Knight to pitch comfortably over his remaining three innings of work. Olson went 3 for 4 to pace Poland's offense. O'Shaughnessy socked a run scoring single.

Poland also nipped Niles 6-4 and lambasted West Branch 14-1 last week. The win over the Dragons earned the local kids a split with the Trumbull County outfit. A five-run fourth inning by the Bulldogs gave them a 6-1 lead. They then had to hold off a late Dragon charge in order to preserve the victory. Senior Alex Barth gave up three unearned runs on the way to the pitching win for Poland. He was relieved by junior Mike Kushner who got the last five outs to douse the Dragons' rally. Juniors Steven Carney and Zach Yaskulka had two hits each offensively.

It only took five innings for Poland to wipe out West Branch. The Bulldogs scored in every inning besides the fourth, including a seven run fifth inning outburst that turned this game into a Mercy Rule affair. Kushner got the win. Farber, Yaskulka, Seitz, Nate Hayes and Mason McCurdy all knocked runs home.

Neither of the Bulldogs' two potential sectional opponents did very well against them this spring. It was just explained how the Eagles were plastered by Poland in their two chances. The Indians played Poland much closer, but still lost 3-1 and 7-4. If the Bulldogs have any ideas of looking ahead to a possible district championship clash with their old friends from Canfield, they may end up disappointed. A match with division rival Niles could possibly await Poland in the district semis. Prior to their win over the Dragons last Wednesday, the Bulldogs were beaten by them 4-1 on April 17. The third seeded Dragons have a first round bye as well and will play the winner of the sectional opener between Salem and Struthers.



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