Antelopes get another shut-out

Avonworth senior pitcher Chris O’Malley and teammates scored their second shut-out of the short baseball season against Fort Cherry last Monday. O’Malley and Cole Pappas both had homeruns during the game. The Antelopes went on to lose to South Side Beaver on Wednesday despite a late-game rally. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

Games have been getting called early for the Avonworth baseball team, but it's not because of the weather.

The team won its first two games this season off of the ruling that ends a game once a 10-run lead has been established. During the sixth inning of the home opener against Quigley, the game ended with the score standing 10-0, and again last Tuesday when the team defeated Fort Cherry 10-0, ending the game in the fifth inning.

Senior Chris O'Malley pitched the entire five innings. Some players who turned in key plays in securing the ‘Lopes’ defensive victory included senior catcher Jay Knable and junior shortstop Cole Pappas, who held the runners on the bases.

Knable and Pappas made a clutch play to end the fourth inning and preserve the shut-out. Getting dirty to secure a ball bouncing across home plate, Knable dove and then shot it to Pappas at second to tag out a runner who thought he would have time to get back to the base after taking a rather long lead toward third.

As for the offensive attack, O'Malley and Pappas each hit out-of-the-park home runs, O'Malley blasting a three-run homer into the parking lot in the first inning, and Pappas nailing a walk-off homerun that ended the game.

Head coach Phil Coffin was very pleased with his team's performance in their first two games of the season.

"A great start to section play. We need to make less mental mistakes and continue to attack the baseball at the plate," said Coffin, who was already looking for ways to improve for their next game against South Side Beaver.

The team's high spirits transferred over to the South Side Beaver game on Wednesday, but their execution, unfortunately, did not, with the ‘Lopes losing, 5-4.

"South Side Beaver executed and we did not. When you execute, you win games, and when you don't execute, you don't," said Coffin..

Starting pitcher Brach Herzig held South Side Beaver to three runs after taking a hard shot to the wrist on his second pitch of the game. Thomas Donovan came in as a relief pitcher in the fifth inning, giving up one run going into the seventh.

Avonworth struggled offensively to start the game, scoring only one run upon entering the seventh inning. At this point, the score was 4-1 and the situation was not looking good for the Antelopes, but the team was not done yet.

Avonworth rallied in the top of the seventh to tie the game 4-4, with a key O'Malley hit that drove in two runners, but the rally was not enough. South Side Beaver produced a run of their own in the bottom of the seventh to take the lead and end the game.

The ‘Lopes’ record now stands at 2-1, but Coffin believes the team showed what they were really made of during their late-game rally. "It answered the question I asked at the beginning of the game. 'What are our true colors? Who are we as a team?' The rally at the end of the game really answered my question."

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