Gold Hawks Defend Turf at Series
Written by Steve DeDoes for Toledo Hawks Baseball   
Friday, 05 August 2011 20:35

Knock Off Kent White Sox 9-4

August 5, 2011 - On their "home" stomping grounds at Bowman Park, the Toledo Hawks "Gold" took their second game of pool play on Friday morning, defeating the Kent White Sox from Carmel, New York, by a score of 9-4.  The Hawks featured another double-digit hitting attack - led once again by Blake Schmenk (Owens CC/Perrysburg), who had four hits for the second consecutive game.  Lefthander Corey Alexander (Siena Heights/Toledo), after allowing three runs (two earned) in the first three innings, settled down to complete six innings and earn the pitching victory.

Again playing as the visiting team after losing the coin flip, the Hawks scored the game's first run in the second inning.  Eric Yunker (Ohio Northern/Holland) led off with a single to left, stole second, and scored on a long double to left-center by R.J. Rios (Adrian/Toledo).  The Sox answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning; Brandon Lugo's RBI single helped to notch the score after a Hawk infield error on a sacrifice bunt.

Both teams put up multiple runs in the third inning, but it was the Hawks gaining the upper hand with three scores against two for the Sox.  Schmenk led off the Hawk half of the inning with a hard single to right off Troy Torres (SUNY-Albany); after Torres walked Drew Kuns (Bowling Green/Oregon) and hit Brett Howard (Siena Heights/Toledo), Eric Croak (Toledo/Toledo) scored Schmenk with a groundout to second.  Yunker notched his second hit, a single off the glove of the third baseman that scored Kuns and Howard.  Kent's two runs in response during the bottom of the third came on a nice RBI single by Jeremy Lovera and a subsequent squeeze by Bob Rodriguez that were both well-executed.  However, a nice 4-3 double play (tag-throw) by Hawk second-sacker Mike Lollo (Siena Heights/Allen Park, MI) helped Alexander out of further damage.

With the 4-3 lead in the fourth, Alexander hunkered down.  He struck out six batters over the next three innings, and finished his performance with a 1-2-3 sixth.  He encountered a bit of trouble in the fifth, allowing a runner to reach third on two hits, but a strikeout ended that threat.  Over his six innings of work, Alexander allowed six hits and four walks.

Meanwhile, the Hawks stretched their lead with single runs in the fourth and the sixth innings.  Corey Lehman (Siena Heights/Toledo) singled to start the fourth; he stole second, and rode home on Kuns' single.  Lehman also started the sixth, this time working a base on balls against reliever Zack Graczyk (SUNY-Courtland).  He once again stole second, advanced to third on Schmenk's groundout to short, and scored on Howard's bloop hit to left-center field.

The darned Sox narrowed the gap to 6-4 in the seventh with a run off Hawk relief pitcher Lucas Willitzer (Adrian/Defiance).  However, Willitzer got out of further trouble with a strikeout of Sox cleanup hitter Ryan Anders, stranding a runner at second.  Willitzer walked two in the eighth, but substitute second baseman Levi Pauli (Defiance/Ottawa Lake, MI) started a big 4-6-3 double play to escape damage.

The game was put out of reach when the Hawks scored three controversial runs in the top of the ninth - all the runs scored on a two-out, high-hop double down the first baseline by Schmenk, capitalizing after it looked like Rios had made the third out on a foul-tip strikeout; Rios then worked Graczyk for a walk and was joined on the bases by Pauli (walk) and Lehman (error).

Tim Corbey (Dayton/Toledo) came on to close out the ninth and the game, and he promptly struck out the first hitter he faced and then quickly induced the next batter to ground to second.  However, not only did then Corbey give up a meaningless hit with two outs, but he suffered a freakish knee injury on that very pitch as his cleats caught in the mound.  It is apparent that the Hawks have lost a valuable closer for the rest of the Series; it is the hope here that Corbey has not incurred a serious knee injury.  While his collegiate pitching career is over, he is weeks away from beginning law school study at Capital University in the fall.

Zak Esposito (Owens CC/Sandusky) recorded the final Sox' out, and honorary batboy Ethan McDonald (Elmhurst Elementary/Toledo) led the post-game handshakes.  With the win, the Gold Hawks assured themselves of advancing to Saturday's quarterfinal round.
 
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