Shaw-based Refuel compensated for its early inability to hit, converting mistakes into runs en route to an 8-1 victory over Brother Martin-based Peake BMW in the American Legion State Tournament on Saturday at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium.
Cody Sposito, Keith Meier, Jace Nini and Kyle Flettrich tallied an RBI apiece to propel Refuel, which advances to challenge Gauthier & Amedee on Day 2. Peake BMW faces Townsend Homes in the loser’s bracket of the double-elimination tourney set for 10:30 a.m. Sunday. The Refuel-Peake BMW came is set for 35 minutes after the completion of the first game.
“I was expecting it to be a pitcher’s duel, but both starters looked like they were struggling with their command a bit early,” Refuel coach Kirk Bullinger said. “We were patient at the plate, though. If we’re chasing pitches, it’s going to be a long night. Instead, we ran up their pitch count and forced coach (Mark) Wisniewski’s hand.”
Peake BMW commenced the scoring. Kevin Stretzinger smacked a 2-2 pitch to right field in the top of the first inning, scoring Michael Kirsch.
Down 1-0, Refuel rebounded. Kyle Flettrich, Meier and Wayne Templet drew walks in between strikeouts to load the bases in the bottom of the second before leadoff hitter Caiden Reid stomached a ball to the body, scoring Flettrich and knotting the ball game.
Stuck in a jam, Peake BMW pitcher Blair Frederick atoned. The lefty fanned Josh Pantoja on a 3-2 breaking ball inside with two outs to preserve a 1-1 tie and mitigate the damage.
Frederick, though, would unravel in the third. He tossed a wild pitch that allowed Brandon Guillot to score and then surrendered an RBI triple to Sposito and an RBI single to the right field alley to Meier.
Enter Jarod Tassin. Peake BMW’s right-hander walked Refuel’s Reid to load the bases with two outs. Though Refuel squandered another opportunity, it scored four runs via errors for a 5-1 lead.
“We put ourselves in a hole and had a tough time at the plate trying to come from behind,” Wisniewski said.
Blame Nini. Refuel’s right-handed ace tossed a six-hit, one-run effort to stymie Peake, which couldn’t rally.
Nini walked two and struck out four in eight innings of work — a stark contrast from Frederick’s line of five strikeouts, six walks, two hits and four runs in 2.2 innings.
To cap the match, Refuel added an additional run in the sixth and two more in the eighth to seal the victory.