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Prep Baseball Game Story: Wolverines cling to district win
CIESLEWITZ CLOSES OUT PITCHING GEM, ESCAPES JAM IN THE FINAL INNING FOR NORTH STAFFORD
By STEVE FRANZELLO
With two outs and two runners on base in the top of the seventh inning Friday night, North Stafford coach Jim Labrusciano made his way to the pitching mound.
Starting pitcher Geoff Cieslewitz was trying to put the finishing touches on a two-hit shutout of visiting Riverbend and was getting pretty high in his pitch count.
But before Labrusciano could reach the hill and make a move, his senior pitcher looked over and reassured him that he was still in complete control.
“He told me to go back, that he had it,” said Labrusciano. “He’s a senior leader and I wasn’t going to argue with him. He took it upon himself and got the job done.”
After Labrusciano made his way back to the dugout, Cieslewitz took care of completing the job that he had started six innings earlier.
He struck out the next batter, Bears centerfielder Andrew Cahall, on a called third strike to end the game and seal a 3–0 Commonwealth District victory for the defending district tournament champions.
The win improved the Wolverines’ record to 4–3 in the district (4–5 overall) and came at an important stretch of the season for Labrusciano’s squad, which returned only three starters from last year.
After going 2–1 this week, North Stafford travels to Brooke Point on Tuesday and then heads to North Carolina for a pair of games during spring break. When they return, they’ll face one of the district pacesetters, Colonial Forge.
“We needed this one and Geoff got it for us,” Labrusciano said. “He’s pitched a lot of great games over his career here against some good district teams.”
One of the those good district teams this year is Riverbend (5–2, 4–2), which has been impressive in the early going, and entered Friday’s game on two-game winning streak.
“You never like to lose,” Bears coach Tim Stimmell said. “But this was a well-pitched game and Geoff did a great job for them. And they took advantage of some things early.”
Cieslewitz struck out seven and walked just one and was never in any real trouble. He carried a no-hitter into the sixth before Nathan DiDonato’s infield popup dropped in for a base hit.
“I though about the no-hitter a little bit, but you have to kind of ignore it when you’re out there,” said Cieslewitz, who also drove in the Wolverines’ first run with a single to right.
North Stafford got its other two runs early in the game, as well.
After Tyler Bailey singled and scored on Cieslewitz’s grounder, designated hitter Ryan Somerville delivered a two-out blooper to right that plated courtesy runner Nick Skidmore.
In the bottom of the second, the Wolverines got another run without the benefit of a hit. Brady Fox walked, stole second, advanced to third on a flyout to right by Chris Gallet and then stole home.
The early scoring proved pivotal against Riverbend starter Eric Byrd, who settled down and held the Wolverines hitless before being relieved by Anthony Burke in the bottom of the sixth. Byrd recorded four strikeouts and Burke two.
“We took a more relaxed approach at the plate today and good things happened,” said North Stafford’s Sean Kennedy, last year’s district’s player of the year. “This win gives us a lot of momentum heading into next week and the break.”
Riverbend is also back in action next week. The Bears travel to Mountain View for an important district clash with the Wildcats.
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Riverbend 0000 000 0 2 0
N. Stafford 2100 00X 3 3 2
ERIC BYRD, Anthony Burke (6) and Tanner Knecht. GEOFF CIESLEWITZ and Logan Moore.
Steve Franzello: 540/374-5440