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Falcon pitchers come alive, pick up offense
April 27, 2017

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The school that eventually captures the All-American Conference Red Tier championship will probably be the one that gets the most effective pitching.

If that is truly the case, then a huge vote can be checked for the Austintown Fitch High School baseball team.

Fitch starting pitchers have been sizzling on the mound lately and that has positioned the Falcons in a cluster near the top of the Red Tier standings.

"We have had great pitching all year," rookie head coach Joe Paris said. "We are all still excited because it has given us a legitimate shot to win the AAC crown."

Paris' pitching staff really started gaining attention when it helped the Falcons leave the Mingo Bay Classic Baseball Tournament in Myrtle Beach with a championship trophy.

After beginning the Bay Classic sluggishly at the plate, the pitching picked the offense up and didn't allow a run over the tournament's final 13 innings. Once the "O" found a heartbeat, it was clear sailing for the Falcons.

"The trip started rough four us because we didn't hit very well," Paris said. "Our bats came alive and we ended up winning the championship of our bracket. It ended up great."

Hurlers Kenny Misik, Cole Constance, Nick Bianco and Joe Chepke have been Paris' fabulous four over the past month.

Misik handcuffed Poland on four hits in Fitch's first game back from Myrtle Beach on April 17. The super sophomore lefty struck out 10 Bulldogs in a much-needed 3-1 Fitch triumph.

Constance was clutch on the hill one day later in Poland, but the Fitch bats were befuddled by the Bulldogs' pitching. Poland got revenge that day, 1-0.

Chepke worked 4 1/3 innings and gave up just two runs on five hits in Fitch's impressive 6-2 victory over Cardinal Mooney Saturday afternoon. Kole Klasic came into the game in the fifth and finished off the Cardinals for the save, adding another arm to the coach's army.

"All of these guys have thrown well," Paris said.

The one offensive star Fitch has had since the start of this season has been Malik Caige. He helped start Fitch's second inning rally in the win over Poland with a leadoff single.

After Chris Gerberry followed with another single, Caige was able to score on a Bulldog error. Robby Russo then grounded out, plating Gerberry. Bianco's RBI double later in the game gave Fitch an insurance run.

Caige was back at it against Mooney with a two-run single. He also walked a couple of times. Mike Grazier and Russo also added hits and walks for the Falcons.

"(Caige) has been our most consistent hitter all year," Paris said. "We're still trying to find a little more consistency (from the rest of the lineup)."

If the Falcons are to capture a league crown, they will need to play a few games where all phases fuse together.

Although Paris is confident his boys have a long winning streak left in them, he is still pining for that perfect outing.

"We have not yet been able to put a complete game together with pitching, hitting and base running," he said. "I know we can, though."

The Howland Tigers defeated the Falcons, 4-3, in eight innings Monday at Howland Township Park at the first game in the home-and-home series. The local boys also fell Tuesday to Howland, 4-3, at home, causing Fitch to fall to 3-5 in AAC conference.

The local boys are 7-9 overall this season.

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