DuBOIS — Johnnsonburg and DuBois Central Catholic squared off in a good, old-fashion pitcher’s duel Wednesday before the wheels came off in the sixth inning for the visiting Rams in a game that ended in a 10-1 lopsided victory for the Cardinals at Stern Field.
Johnsonburg took a slim 1-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth as Ram Gavin Elmquist and DCC starter Cole Sansom matched zeroes for most of the day.
Elmquist allowed just two hits, and six total base runners, through five innings. As for Sansom, he allowed four hits through the same number of innings,. However, the Rams scratched out an unearned run against the freshman lefty in the fourth thanks in large part to a pair of DCC errors.
Central reliever Dom Torretti pitched a scoreless top of the sixth, stranding two runners, before the Cardinals finally got the bats going in the bottom of the inning.
Cardinal Justin Miknis jump-started the rally with a leadoff double and went to third on a single to right by Garrett Prosper. Torretti followed with a single of his own to left-center to score Miknis to tie the game. That hit also spelled the end for Elmquist.
Rams reliever Gabe Watts got a rude welcoming from Sansom, who hit a double to left field to score Prosper to put the Cardinals up 2-1. Watts then walked Zach Edwards and Peter Downer to load the bases, which brought about a quick end to his day on the mound.
Austin Green came on for the Rams but fared no better. The first batter he faced, Damon Foster, punched a single the other way through a pulled up infield to score a run before Brandon Walker drew a bases-loaded walk.
Johnsonburg (1-2) promptly made its third pitching change of the inning — still with no outs — and brought in Wade Steis, who walked Noah Bloom to force in another run. The Rams then elected to intentionally walk Miknis with the bases loaded, much to chagrin of the DCC faithful.
It was the second time Miknis was intentionally walked in the game. The first came in the bottom of the first, a decison that worked for the Rams when Prosper hit into an inning-ending double play.
This time around Prosper made the Rams pay as he ripped a three-run double into the right-field corner to punctuate the inning and put DCC up 10-1. The Cardinals could’t push across one more run to end thing early via the 10-run mercy rule though, as Steis retired the next three batters.
Torretti retired the Rams in order in the top of the seventh. Prosper made back-to-back nice defensive plays to end the game. He first made a diving stop on a hard grounder and flipped to Torretti covering the bag for the second out before tracking down a foul ball near the fence well down the right-field line for the final out.
Torretti got the win after hit two innings of scoreless relief. Sansom got a no-decision after allowing an unearned run on four hits in five innings of work. He struck out two and walked three. As for Elmquist, he wound up the hard-luck loser after giving up three earned runs on five hits in five-plus innings. He struck out six and walked two.
“Our kids show great character today,” said DCC coach Adam Fox. “They don’t back and stay the course, and they stayed the course the whole game. They weathered the storm of the close ball game. Cole Sansom didn’t a heck of job keeping us in the game, and our defense did the job.
“Hat’s off to our guys today. I’m happy with the win today.”
Sansom worked out of a mini-jam in the top of the first.
Camron Marciniak beat out an infield single to open the inning before Zack Zameroski walked with two outs. Sansom ended the rally there when he got Dalton Stahli to fly out to center.
Central (4-1) put two on with one out in the bottom of the first before Elmquist got Prosper to hit into the double play. Both teams went rather quietly in the second and third innings before the Rams broke the ice in the fourth.
Zameroski led off the inning with a walk and was bunted to second by Dalton Stahli. Paul Gresco then reached on an error that put runners on the corner. After a foul out, Elmquist legged out an infield single with two outs that scored Zameroski to make it 1-0.
Central Catholic came up with another big defensive play in the fifth when it cut down Zameroski trying to go first to third on a single by Gresco to keep it a 1-0 lead.
Elmquist then stranded Foster in scoring position to end the bottom of the fifth after the Cardinal had singled and stolen second. Foster and Prosper were the lone players with two hits in the game.
That set the stage for the decisive sixth inning where the Cardinals exploded for their 10 runs to come away with the win.
“Gavin gave us a heck of a game,” said Johnsonburg coach Frank Ferragine. “We just struggled to throw strikes there in the sixth. Our pitchers aren’t use to this turf field, and I think it’s more in their heads than their abilities. They just get it in their head they can’t pitch off it, and they. We just have to get use to it before it costs in a game that matters down the road.
“We had the bases loaded (in 4th) and should have been able to cash in and get another run or two at that point. Things will come around, but if we’re up 3-0 or 4-0 wit gavin still out there, that could have been a different game today.”
Central Catholic is back in action Monday at home against Kane, while Johnsonburg hosts Bradford today at 3 p.m. at Knothole Park.