BASEBALL: Finding a way: Dragon bats outlast McLane in D10 quarters

SLIPPERY ROCK – Warren coach Rick Eaton said his Dragons would have to hit the ball if they wanted to beat General McLane in Tuesday’s District 10 Class AAA quarterfinal playoff game at Slippery Rock University’s Jack Critchfield Park.

Boy, was he right.

Warren (14-5) watched nearly all of a 9-0 lead evaporate and put together just enough hits to outslug the Lancers, 13-10, and advance to Friday’s D-10 semifinals against Cathedral Prep.

“We persevered and found a way to win the game,” said Eaton. “This is the second game this year that we’ve played with them that’s been high scoring and we won both of them. That’s what it’s all about. The guys buckled down when times got tough and found a way to get the job done.”

Warren slugger Matt Hultquist – who finished just a triple shy of the cycle and reached base in all five of his at-bats on Tuesday – said the Dragons have been due for an offensive breakout.

“Coach has told us all year that we haven’t had our best hitting game yet and tonight we came pretty close,” said Hultquist. “It’s about time. It’s time for playoff baseball and we need to be at our best. We’ve got Cathedral Prep on Friday so we’re going to have to come right back out here and go get it.”

After failing to score in the top of the first, things started ominously for the Dragons as starting pitcher Tanner Stanz allowed a leadoff triple to McLane’s Kevin Correll. The sophomore shook off the shot and calmly struck out the next three batters on just 11 total pitches.

After the first inning scare, Stanz said he was able to calm down and get into a groove for the next several innings.

“I made a mistake with an 0-2 curveball to the first batter and he crushed it for a triple,” said Stanz. “After that, I tried to stick with my fastball a little more and I feel like things started to settle down from there.”

The Dragons began putting runs on the board in the second and would score at least once every inning the rest of the way. Hultquist was right in the middle of things from the start, ripping a double and scoring on Carter Cerra’s RBI single to make it 1-0.

Warren heated up in a big way during the third inning, putting up the first of three crooked numbers on the night with a four-spot.

With two outs, Hultquist crushed a solo homer just over the 315-foot sign in deep left field, making it 2-0. Jason Stanton followed with a walk, stole second and moved to third on an error before scoring on Cerra’s RBI double. Cameron McIntosh reached when he was hit by a pitch and both he and Cerra scored when Ed Ord hit a triple to the deepest part of the park, giving the Dragons a 5-0 lead.

The Dragons kept scoring in the fourth, adding three more runs. Austin Schwanke knocked in Collin Fantaskey with an RBI fielder’s choice, McIntosh brought home courtesy runner John White with an RBI single and Ord worked a bases loaded walk to make it 8-0.

Warren crept closer to making it a mercy rule contest by adding a ninth run in the top of the fifth. This time, Fantaskey led off the inning with a deep homer and Warren needed just one more run and a defensive stop to end the game via the ten-run rule.

That didn’t happen.

Warren failed to score again in the inning and McLane (11-10) started smacking the ball around in its half of the fifth. The Lancers, who had just three hits in the first four innings, had four hits in the fifth, making it 9-4 after an RBI single from Tyler Hendricks, a two-run triple from Chris Laird and an RBI groundout from Evan Dillen.

The runs kept coming in the sixth as Warren answered back with three tallies. Fantaskey knocked in a run with an RBI double, Hultquist was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Stanton worked a bases loaded walk. The Dragons entered the bottom of the sixth, having retaken momentum with a 12-4 edge.

Again, the Lancers rallied.

This time, McLane plated five runners, cutting the gap to 12-9 through six innings. Matt Zewe brought home two runs with a triple, Correll added an RBI triple of his own, Hendricks had an RBI groundout and Dillen an RBI single before Warren relief pitcher Tanner Teconchuk got Zach Leicht to ground out, ending the inning.

Warren netted an insurance run in the seventh when Schwanke knocked in courtesy runner Quinn Boger and Fantaskey took the mound in the bottom of the seventh to close the door on McLane’s season.

The Lancers did get an RBI single from Peter Solberg, but Fantaskey got Correll to fly out to Schwanke in center, ending the game.

Warren finished the contest with 14 hits, including four from Fantaskey, three from Hultquist and Cerra and two from McIntosh. Fantaskey and Hultquist each scored three times and Ord drove in a team-high three runs.

“We built that 9-0 lead and I don’t think we kept our edge the way I would’ve liked,” said Eaton. “But that’s all over now. Things don’t get any easier from here. Cathedral Prep is next and we’re going to have to play even better against them if we want to get back to the title game.”

WARREN (13): Fantaskey, ss-2b-p, 5-3-4-2, Schwanke, cf, 5-1-1-2, Stanz, p-ss, 4-0-0-0, White, cr, 0-1-0-0, Hultquist, 3b, 3-3-3-2, Stanton, 1b, 3-1-0-1, Cerra, rf, 5-1-3-2, McIntosh, lf, 2-1-2-1, Gustafson, lf, 1-0-0-0, Teconchuk, 2b, 0-0-0-0, Ord, dh, 3-0-1-3, Fasenmyer, c, 2-0-0-0, Boger, cr, 0-1-0-0, DeLattre, cr, 0-1-0-0, Totals: 33-13-14-13

MCLANE (10): Correll, lf, 5-2-3-1, Hendricks, p, 4-1-1-2, Laird, 1b, 4-2-2-2, Dillen, cf, 4-0-2-2, Leicht, 3b, 4-0-0-0, Cauvel, rf, 3-1-0-0, Fox, 2b, 3-2-2-0, Sult, c, 0-0-0-0, Zewe, dh, 4-2-3-2, Solberg, ss, 4-0-1-1, Totals: 35-10-14-10

Warren 014 313 1 – 13 14

McLane 000 045 1 – 10 14

2b-Hultquist (W), Cerra (W), Dillen (G), Fantaskey (W), Laird (G). 3b-Correll (G) 2, Ord (W), Laird (G), Zewe (G). HR-Hultquist (W), Fantaskey (W). WP-Stanz. LP-Hendricks.