PLYMOUTH — The object of baseball is pretty simple: Get them on, get them over, get them in. Without the first part of the equation, it’s pretty tough to win a ball game.
Stephen Pinarski threw a no-hit, two-walk masterpiece for Bristol Post 143, pitching his team to a 3-0 shutout of Plymouth Post 27 and the championship at the Diamond Spyders’ 3rd Annual Patriot Tournament Sunday. That finale followed two semifinals earlier Sunday in which Plymouth advanced with a thrilling 4-3 reprisal win over Three Oaks Michigan, and Bristol handed Mishawaka Post 161 a convincing 7-1 defeat.
Pinarksi, while not overpowering, was ruthlessly efficient in the championship, throwing just 75 pitches in seven innings of work. All total, Post 27’s lineup managed just two baserunners for the game.
“It’s pretty simple, if you don’t hit the ball, you don’t win,” said Plymouth Post 27 manager Will Hostrawser.
“I think he had a rhythm right from the get-go. The umpire was holding him up pitching because he was in such a rhythm, and we didn’t do anything to break that rhythm. Give him credit, he threw well. We faced a pitcher in the first game that didn’t throw all that hard. He threw a lot of offspeed stuff, and (Pinarski) came and located the fastball well and we were late getting around on him and he stayed with that.”
Pinarski walked Eric Knepper in the second and Clayton Adamson in the fifth, but neither runner ever reached second. Knepper was left stranded at first as Adamson and Jared Lemler both popped out to Pinarski, and Adamson was thrown out heading to second on a 6-4-3 double play in the fifth as Bristol cruised through the championship, which was in the books in just an hour and five minutes. Jacob Frantz came the closest to a base hit for the hosts with a nicely placed bunt in the sixth, but after Pinarski stumbled fielding the ball, he threw Frantz out from his back to preserve the no-hitter.
“I’m just glad we kept battling,” Hostrawser said. “We had an opportunity to get on in the sixth inning there when Frantz tried to drop that bunt down to get down there, and that was bang-bang and he threw him out from sitting on the ground. That was a great play. He deserved that, so you’ve got to give him credit.”
Adamson was solid on the mound for the Spyders, scattering seven hits while giving up no walks after earning the save relieving Jason Ferguson in the seventh inning of Post 27’s semifinal win over Three Oaks Michigan earlier Sunday.
Shannon Baker put Bristol on the board in the third driving in Nick DeFreese with a hard grounder off Drew McDonald’s glove as the Post 27 second baseman tried to make a diving stop. Cain Crowley pushed the lead out to 2-0 in the fifth when he legged out a single off a grounder to short then stole second and third, scoring on the attempted pickoff throw from home to third. Caleb Stayton went yard on his first offering from Adamson in the sixth to bring the score to its final margin.
“They took advantage of a couple of our mistakes early to get those first two runs there, and then the one kid hit a home run there for the other run. But I’ve got to give Clayton a lot of credit — he came in and got a clutch save for us to even get to that game and then went the distance there and did a real nice job,” said Hostrawser. “He had good command today, and he wanted the ball and it showed.”
Post 27’s championship loss came on the heels of a narrow 4-3 semifinal win over Three Oaks Post 204 earlier Sunday.
The hits were relatively hard to come by in that win, too. The Spyders scored a pair of runs off two hits, a dropped third strike and an error in the fifth, then scratched out another two off three hits and a wild pitch in the sixth.
With the Spyders trailing by a slim 1-0 margin, Lemler led off the fifth with a single and was bunted over by Peter Shepherd, and Shay Hepler reached on a dropped third strike as the top of the Plymouth order came back around. Lemler scored as Frantz reached on a throwing error on a routine grounder, and Tanner Hampton drove in Hepler with a double down the left field line to stake the hosts to a 2-1 lead.
Ferguson started off the sixth with a leadoff single of his own and was bunted over by Adamson, Lemler singled into shallow center, and Ferguson scored on a wild pitch to Shepherd. Hepler’s flare into shallow center was dropped by a diving Ethan Zimmerman, and Lemler scored the Spyders’ final run of the day on the play, pushing the Post 27 advantage out to 4-1.
“When you play with wood bats, your mistakes defensively are going to be magnified, and you’re going to earn everything you get at the plate,” said Hostrawser. “That’s baseball, and I really like playing with wood bats. Our kids were opportunistic on the baselines, and we put the ball in play when we needed to.”
Plymouth wound up needing every bit of its lead as Three Oaks rallied in the top of the seventh.
Gabe Zeiger coaxed a leadoff walk from Ferguson batting in the nine spot — just Ferguson’s third base on balls of the outing — and the Plymouth starter overthrew to first on a blooper back to the mound by Jordan Bosse, putting runners at second and third as Shepherd scrambled to recover the ball on the play, prompting Hostrawser to call in Adamson to close the door.
Zeiger and Bosse scored on successive groundouts to cut Plymouth’s lead to one, and Zach Schultz and Caleb Dill reached on consecutive infield errors to further pressure Adamson and company, but Brock Belanger flew out to center to end the threat, and the Spyders advanced to the title game opposite Bristol.
“Baseball, it’s a funny game. When they dropped that fly ball in the outfield and we got that fourth run, I kind of had a hunch that that was going to be the game-winner, and lo and behold it was,” said Hostrawser. “I give props to Ferguson. He did a nice job today. His pitch count got up high, right around 100 or so, and we knew he was tired. He wanted to finish, but when he threw the ball away at first there on that routine play, that was a quick hook for us. The nice thing is Clayton jumped in and did a real nice job and got the team together. We got up against a wall a little bit, but he came right in and threw strikes and made them hit the ball, and we found an out there at the end.”
While the outcome of Sunday’s championship game wasn’t what the Spyders wanted, the runner-up result was a solid finish for a team that has struggled in both of the other two tournaments it had played in previously this summer. And the tournament itself was a success as eight teams hailing from as far away as Ontario, Canada played a total of 21 games between Bill Nixon Field and the Charger Athletic Complex at Ancilla over a four-day span.
“It was a good tournament. I was happy to take this crew to the championship game and get to that point. I felt our kids battled hard,” said Hostrawser. “I really appreciate Ancilla College and Gene Reese and Joe Yonto out there with their help putting this tournament on and obviously Judge (Dean Colvin) putting everything together for us. Any time you get eight baseball teams playing in, this was game 21 over four days — that’s a lot of baseball, and there weren’t many hiccups at all. So I give a lot of credit to Judge putting this whole thing together.”
• 3RD ANNUAL PLYMOUTH POST 27 PATRIOT TOURNAMENT
At Bill Nixon Field
BRISTOL POST 143 3, PLYMOUTH POST 27 0
Plymouth: 000 000 0 — 0 0 1
Bristol: 001 011 x — 3 7 0
Stephen Pinarski (W); Clayton Adamson (L)
HR: Caleb Stayton (B)
POST 27 4, THREE OAKS POST 204 3
Three Oaks: 000 100 2 — 3 8 1
Plymouth: 000 022 x — 4 9 3
Jason Ferguson (W), Clayton Adamson (Sv); Jordan Bosse (L)
2B: Zack Schultz (TO), Tanner Hampton (P)
3B: Shay Hepler (P)