REYNOLDSVILLE — Pulaski used a strong start at the plate and a gritty pitching performance from Noah Schneider to knock off five-time defending league champion Sykesville, 10-5, Tuesday in the opening game of the their Federation League first-round playoff series.
Pulaski jumped on Senators starter Adam Fox for seven runs in the first two innings, with that early offensive explosion proving to be enough for Schneider. However, things weren’t easy for the Generals righty, as he and his defense worked around a host of Senator base runners in the game.
Schneider went the distance, allowing five runs, all earned, on 12 hits while striking out nine and walking five. More importantly, he and his defense found a way to strand 15 runners on base in the victory. Sykesville left the bases loaded three times and two runners on three other occasions.
Drew Bankovich led the Pulaski attack, going 3-for-4 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored. Phil Myers also went 3-for-4 with a run, while Nick LaBrasca was 2-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and three runs.
The trio accounted for more than half of Generals’ 14 hits, as all nine Pulaski starters found the hit column in the game.
Pulaski opened the game with a bang as leadoff hitter Jackson Frank ripped a homer to center. Myers followed with a single but was erased on a fielder’s choice hit by LaBrasca. A throwing error on the play allowed LaBrasca to advance to second.
He went to third on an infield single by Bankovich and scored on an errant throw to second on a Bankovich steal to make it 2-0 before Fox worked his way out of the inning.
The Generals’ lead was short-lived though, as Sykesville answered back with three runs in the bottom of the first.
Schneider hit Jared Baummer to open the inning but followed with a strikeout of Austin Blauser. Fox then dropped a single into right before Kasey Clinton lined a three-run homer over the fence in right-center to give the Senators a 3-2 lead.
Sykesville proceeded to load the bases on a one-out single by Jake Felix, then a two-out single from Jude Lander and a Jason Roman walk. Schneider stopped the damage there though, as he got Kaleb Eshenbaugh to fly out to center to leaves the bases loaded.
The Generals answered back with a big five-run top of the second.
Schneider got things going with a one-out infield single, and Dom Torretti followed with a walk. After Fox struck out Frank for the second out, Myers drew a walk to load the bases.
LaBrasca stepped to the plate and ripped a two-run double to right-center, while Bankovich plated a run with an infield single of his own. Ty Bittner punctuated the inning with a two-run single to right, as Pulaski scored all five runs with two outs to take a 7-3 lead.
Schneider settled in some after the big inning and struck out the side in the bottom of the second, then made it four strikeouts in a row when he got Clinton to start the third.
Sykesville put two on the third on an error and Jude Lander’s second single of the game, but a groundout quickly ended any thoughts of a rally.
Pulaski tacked on three big insurance runs in the fourth.
LaBrasca started things with a one-out single before Bankovich ripped a Fox pitch over the fence in left for a two-run shot to put the Generals up 9-3.
Fox then hit Bittner, ending his day on the mound as the Senators called on veteran Dean Williams to come on in relief. Williams allowed back-to-back singles to Adam Bankovich and Michael Misiewicz, with Misiewicz’s hit scoring Bittner to make it 10-3.
Williams went on to throw 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief to give his team an opportunity to fight back into the contest. He gave up five hits while striking out one.
And, Sykesville certainly tried its best to stage a comeback over the final four innings as it put a host of runners on base. But, Schneider and his teammates were up to the challenge.
The Senators were only able to break Schneider for two runs in the sixth while leaving 10 runners on base over the final four innings.
Blauser led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk, while Fox singled to right. Clinton then hammered a Schneider pitch to right-center for two-run double to pull Sykesville within five at 10-5.
That’s as close as the Senators got, though.
A single from Felix and two-out walk by Jason Roman loaded the bases, but Schneider got Eshenbaugh to fly out to right to strand the bases loaded.
Sykesville also put two on with two outs in the seventh, but a fly out to center by Felix ended the game.
Game 2 of the series is scheduled for tonight at Showers Field, with Game 3 of the best-of-5 series back in Reynoldsville on Thursday.