No Tarnish On Toledo Gold Hawks
Written by Steve DeDoes for Toledo Hawks Baseball   
Sunday, 31 July 2011 16:10

Team Adds Tri-State Title to Accomplishments

Toledo Hawks "Gold" made a makeup trip on Saturday, July 30 to Ravenna, Ohio.  With a sweep in this doubleheader - two games being replayed after a cancelled double-dip from the previous weekend - the team could lay claim to the top spot in the Tri-State Collegiate Baseball League for the 2011 season.  With Eric Croak (Toledo/Toledo) presenting a home run-derby level performance in game one, and Mattie DeDoes (Oberlin/Ann Arbor, MI) providing the offensive and the pitching theatrics in game two, the Gold Hawks flew over the Ravenna Arsenal on their way to 14-1 and 9-5 victories, and wrapped their talons around this season's Tri-State crown.  The Gold Hawks now find themselves in the enviable position of accepting one of two bids they earned to the 2011 NABF World Series, having clinched the title in the Toledo Amateur League as well.

Croak went crazy in the first game, en route to a perfect (5-for-5) afternoon as a whole.  Taking advantage of an inviting right field fence, the lefthanded slugger belted three home runs and added a 2-RBI single, giving him a whopping 10 RBI's on the game.  His first homer led off the second inning for the visitors, and provided the first tally of the day.  After the Arsenal tied the score in the bottom of the second against Hawk starter Kirk Stambaugh (Wayne State/Sylvania), the Hawk lumber company unloaded.

In the third inning, Mike Lollo (Siena Heights/Allen Park, MI) grounded a one-out double down the left field line and moved to third with two out.  Ryan Williams (Tiffin/Maumee) then delivered a run-scoring single, and Drew Kuns (Bowling Green/Oregon) blasted a long double to left-center.  Next, Brett Howard (Siena Heights/Toledo) temporarily tied Croak in the day's "home run derby" with his own three-run shot to left-center that followed Kuns' arc, plus added distance over the fence.  When Croak subsequently followed Howard with his single, and when DeDoes reached base via error in the fourth and scored on Lollo's groundout, it made the score a comfortable 6-1.

Croak, however, was not done entertaining those fans who had made the trip from the other end of Lake Erie.  With two on in the fifth, he flipped another homer over the high fence in right; then, in the sixth and final inning, he hit the longest of his taters with the bases loaded while the older Hawk fans in attendance - obviously dating themselves with a throwback to old baseball lore - chanted "REG-GIE".  The grand slam did not disappoint, and Croak trotted around the bases while counting his daily RBI total on both hands.

Williams (with three hits), Kuns (two), hits by Eric Yunker (Ohio Northern) and DeDoes, Lollo's double and Howard's home run were all overshadowed by Croak's output.  Cruising to victory on the mound was Stambaugh, who worked five innings and allowed two hits, two walks, and two runners to reach via error.  Jimmie Shaw (Lake Erie/Holland) pitched a quick sixth inning for the victorious Hawks, who then proceeded from this mercy-shortened game to lunch and the next contest on the afternoon.

No home runs in the second game for the high-flyers from Toledo.  They posted two runs in the first when both Williams and Kuns were able to score on wild pitches; the home team answered with two runs in the bottom of the first against Shaw, who took the ball to start and struggled a bit in the opening inning.  Colin Meinzer (Wooster/Toledo) then took over on the mound for the Hawks, and a scoreless second for both sides left the game knotted at 2-2.

In the third inning, leadoff walks to Williams and Kuns were followed by a Howard fly out.  Croak then expanded his daily RBI collection with run-scoring single; then, with two out, DeDoes smacked a two-run single up the middle and then was followed by run-scoring hits from Meinzer and Lollo.  Meinzer worked out of trouble in both the third and fourth, stranding runners at third in both innings and keeping his team ahead, 7-2.

DeDoes took over for Meinzer in the fifth.  He allowed a run in the fifth on a two-out double, then looked in total control in the sixth - however, some uncharacteristically sloppy Hawk defense allowed two unearned runs to score, tightening the game at 7-5.  In the top of the seventh, the Hawks achieved a little breathing room thanks to RBI singles by R.J. Rios (Adrian/Toledo) and DeDoes, who punched out his third hit of the game.  And with a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, the Michigander proceeded to shut down the Arsenal and close the door on the Hawks' Tri-State season.  Meinzer and DeDoes both had two strikeouts in their three-inning stints, and Shaw had a single "K" in the first.

For the Hawks, their final Tri-State record gave them sole claim to first and a stellar 26-8 mark.  After a closing Sunday contest against their Hawk bretheren (Toledo Black), they will head into the NAPB World Series next weekend (August 4-7) in Toledo.

Go (Gold) Hawks !!!   -S.D.
 
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