Patton manager Ray Eckenrode was concerned about the hangover from Tuesday night’s tough 1-0 loss at Ebensburg.
After a slow start on Wednesday night, the host Red Men started swinging the bat, producing 11 hits in a 6-1 win over Portage in Cambria League American Legion action.
“We talked about it, that this is the first time that we’ve had to deal with adversity after that loss,” Eckenrode said. “That game definitely affected us. For 10 innings, we hit the ball hard, but it was at someone. We hit a shot to left field and the left fielder makes a circus catch on it. Any level, it starts wearing on you, worrying about hitting the ball.
“Wooden bat baseball – we’re all learning about how to hit the ball. Wood bats and a pitcher who can change speeds and move the ball around a bit, you are going to have a close game. We had 1-0 baseball for about 11 innings and I think we all breathed a collective sigh of relief on our side when the dam broke and we got a few runs.”
Portage got on the board in the third inning. On a strikeout, Bailey Kerch, who finished 2-for-4, beat the throw to first then stole second.
A sacrifice by Brandon Vocco moved Kerch to third and he scored on another strikeout throw to first to give Portage a 1-0 advantage.
“We were in a grinder (on Tuesday) and then were in another 1-0 game here, so it was tough,” Patton center fielder Adam Polites said. “We are a good offensive team, but we weren’t hitting the ball at the right time.”
The lead held up until the fifth, when the Patton bats finally started swinging led by second baseman Dom Milanesi, who was 2-for-4 for the game.
“Dom Milanesi had two big hits for us going the other way on both of them,” Eckenrode said. “That’s something you have to learn to do with wooden bats.”
Milanesi singled and went to second when the right fielder mishandled the ball.
A single by Josh Serafin brought Milanesi home for the tying run.
After Josh Bonatesta reached base on a fielder’s choice, Adam Polites delivered a single to the outfield which scored both Serafin and Bonatesta to put the Red Men up 3-1.
“Last couple games we haven’t been hitting the ball very well, but the last two innings, we hit the ball well,” Polites said. “It was good to get some runs in and get some confidence for the week ahead.”
Patton got three more runs in the sixth on four straight singles by Nate Bearer, Evan Waldron, Tyler Potutschnig and Milanesi coupled with a pair of Portage errors.
Left-handed pitcher Brandon Fox got the win, striking out 10 and scattering five Portage hits. Bearer came in to relieve Fox in the seventh.
“Brandon is a kid that virtually no one knows about,” Eckenrode said. “He pitched at Harmony and moves the ball around. Did not have his best stuff, but battled his rear end off. He has given up just one earned run.”
Portage manager Dan Kerch said Fox was pitching well against his team.
“Brandon Fox kept us off balance with a good breaking ball,” he said. “He threw well and we just couldn’t get two or three hits together. There wasn’t a string of hits to get something going. I think we left nine runners on base, seven through the first five innings so that would have helped if we had scored some more runs.
“We played good fundamental baseball for about four innings and then the wheels came off and we threw the ball away some. That’s usually what happens and kids get a little tired.”