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Falcons win one game in tournament before losing to Lake

May 22, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Fitch's baseball team had lost three of four games heading into the Division I Canton District state tournament, making a long run in the postseason seem implausible.

A win over number 12 seed New Philadelphia in the sectional semifinals, however, propelled the Falcons into the sectional title game versus fourth seeded Uniontown Lake. Beating their former Federal League foe was certainly going to be a huge task for the fifth seeded Falcons. They played their hearts out in Uniontown, but eventually the Blue Streaks were too much for Fitch to handle. Lake upended Fitch 5-2 to win the sectional crown. The Falcons finished the year with four losses in five games and an overall record of 18-8. Despite the season ending setback, Fitch head coach Joe Paris was pleased with his kids' performance.

"We lost to a really good team," said Paris, "But it doesn't hurt as much when you play a good game. We played a good game. I couldn't be prouder of how we played."

Starting pitcher Devin Higginbotham did all he could to keep Fitch's season alive. He went the distance scattering six hits and struck out eight Blue Streak batters. The only offense for the Falcons came from Lorenzo Russo who hit a two-run triple. Christian Myers, Trey Giannini and Jake Lawrence were the other Fitch hitters with safeties.

While the Falcons were struggling to bring in runs, the Blue Streaks had very little trouble sending their baserunners home.

"(Lake) took advantage of their opportunities scoring four runs in one inning," Paris said. "We blew some of the chances we had."

The Falcons didn't have much trouble scoring against the Quakers in their 11-4 sectional opener triumph at home. Down 4-3, Fitch batted around in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 7-4 lead. Russo hit a two run double and Kenny Misik had a run scoring double in that inning. The home team would put the game on ice when it tallied four more times in the sixth. Fitch's first five batters reached base in that frame. Myers mashed a double that scored two. Russo would end the day with four RBI's and a run scored. Misik had two hits total with an RBI and three runs scored.

Pat Coleman started the game for the Falcons and was relieved by Giannini then Brett Porter. Giannini would pick up the win thanks to giving up one hit over 2 2/3 innings of work.

"Our three pitchers threw well," said Paris. "We started off slowly and I was disappointed with our defense."

Paris was disappointed in another way after the loss to Lake. He gathered his club in the outfield and talked about the end of the year. When he saw tears in some of his seniors' eyes, Paris welled up as well.

"It's hard to talk about," Paris said about his postgame speech to his seniors. "A few of them started crying and that choked me up. I'll meet with them one on one next week, but at that time I told them I love them."

Youngstown State commit Misik, Higginbotham, Myers, Porter, Joe Remish, Bobby Cavalier and Blake Jefferies will all graduate in a couple of weeks. They helped the Falcons capture some grand moments this spring.

"Our game versus the Myrtle Beach team that was a top three team in South Carolina was our best game all year," said Paris. "We played so well we could've beaten anyone that night. We also had nice wins over Poland and Boardman."

Replacing the seniors next season won't be easy, but Russo, Lawrence and Giannini will lay a great foundation. Casey Bokesch, Gabe Faunda, J.J. Piroch and Alarik Sierra also had solid underclassmen seasons and should be counted on to do even more in 2020.

"We have a good group coming back so I'm excited to get the offseason program going and get ready for next year," Paris said.



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