ROCKY RIVER, Ohio – The Pirates returned to the diamond for the first time since April 27, and the Sons of Blackbeard were sharp in their return as Rocky River defeated Valley Forge, 12-0, on Monday.
River banged out 12 hits over four offensive innings in the five-inning, run-rule affair on what was a warm, sunny day at Rocky River Field. Nine batters also reached by being plunked as Patriot pitching struggled with its control. The traffic on the bases produced three runs in each of four offensive frames, the first through the fourth. As for the top halves of those innings? Those were the strict province of sophomore right-hander Dillon Bandi, who was the only Pirate hurler on the day. Bandi walked five and allowed three hits, but he held Valley Forge to an ice-cold 0-for-7 mark with runners in scoring position. The rock-steady righty pounded the upper third of the strike zone in diffusing the Patriot attack and collecting 12 strikeouts in the game.
Due to a slew of recent rainouts, the Pirates (6-11, 4-5 Great Lakes Conference) hadn’t played in nine days. Their Monday game marked the front end of a GLC home-and-home with the Patriots: River is slated to play at Valley Forge on Tuesday. Monday’s tilt at home also marked Senior Day for the Rocky River program. Nine seniors and their families were recognized in a pregame ceremony.
Hard-hit RBI singles by Ross Hartman and Bandi lifted the Pirates to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. A third hard-hit ball in the inning – off the bat of senior second baseman Tommy Hendricks – nearly tacked on another pair of runs in River’s first. But the son of Tom and Beth Hendricks was denied by some fine glove-work turned in by his opposite on the Patriot lineup, second baseman Timmy Dawson. River sent nine to the plate in that first frame.
In the second, senior center fielder Owen Jaite wore his second pitch of the game, getting hit by a pitch on a 2-0 delivery. The son of Charlie and Karen Jaite would reach base three times (hit by pitch twice, walk) in four trips to the plate; he scored three runs. Hartman and Jack White would later single in the three-run inning. The son of Jeff and Felicity White finished the contest 1-for-3 with an RBI.
The Patriots got runners to second and third with just one out in the top of the third, but a fly ball to Luke Coyne in left and a punchout got Dillon Bandi out of the inning unscathed.
The home half of the third spelled three more for the Pirates, who rode hits by seniors Tommy Kelly, Hartman and David Tucci. The sons of Bill and Dawn Kelly and John and Julie Tucci each reached base three times in the game. Hartman’s hit in the third was a three-bagger, the sixth of his career. The son of Rob and Anne Hartman would finish the game 4-for-4 with three runs scored.
The top of the fourth was uneventful. The bottom of the inning resulted in three more runs for the Pirates, as they got in range of the 10-and-5 run-rule victory. In that frame, Luke Coyne doubled, Tommy Hendricks singled, and Hartman collected his fourth base knock of the afternoon. Senior Grant Eversman reached on an error in the fourth. The son of George and Lynne Eversman plated two runs on the play.
For the contest, Rocky River’s 12 runs marked their most in a single game since April 18 (12 runs at Parma).
CANNON FIRE …
SILENT TRIBUTE: Monday’s National Anthem was preceded by a moment of silence in honor of Mike Kocur, Vern Sharbaugh and Dr. Jeff Kovesdy, three recently deceased individuals closely associated with Rocky River Athletics.
12-FOR-12 CLUB: Two Pirate seniors – Luke Coyne and Tommy Kelly – are closing out 12 consecutive sports seasons (fall-winter-spring each year of high school) at RRHS this month. The son of Colin Coyne and Molly Coyne will be continuing with one of his sports – basketball – as a 2019 incoming freshman at Baldwin Wallace University. Kelly owns an .819 OPS (on-base plus slugging) for the season; he’s tagged GLC pitchers to the tune of a .997 OPS in nine league games.
OUCH: River batters have now reached base via a hit by pitch 29 times this season. Owen Jaite (nine times) and Tommy Kelly (five) lead the hit parade. … Monday’s pregame ceremony included Ryan Boettcher. The son of Jeff and Lisa Boettcher has missed the 2019 season due to injury.
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