Planets edge stubborn Kiski, 6-5, in final frame
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Eagle Staff Writer
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April 14, 2018
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Mars’ Joey Craska struck out 12 batters in Thursday’s baseball game against Kiski Area. The sophomore took a no-decision in the Planets’ 6-5 win.

Get hit, get a hit.

Anthony Michalski effectively used that method in helping Mars to a 6-5 section baseball victory over Kiski Area Thursday at Kelly Automotive Park.

The Planets’ shortstop was hit by a pitch leading off the second and fourth innings and scored both times as Mars built a 4-0 lead with little offense. He then delivered the game-winning single with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh.

Joey Craska started the Mars seventh with a single to left. Matt Fuller’s sacrifice bunt moved him to second. Jack Anderson was intentionally walked and Frank Craska singled sharply to left to load the bases.

With the infield in, Michalski lined the ball off the shortstop’s glove and into left field, enabling Joey Craska to trot home with the winning tally.

“I got a little lucky there,” Michalski said. “I was just trying to hit a fly ball to get the run in and I hit a line drive instead.

“Fortunately, the ball deflected off his glove. We’ll take it. The object is to score runs any way you can.”

The Planets did that earlier. They scored twice without a hit in the second as Michalski and Jon Wetherholt were hit by pitches and wound up scoring on an errant throw and a wild pitch, respectively.

The lead expanded to 4-0 in the fourth as Wetherholt walked with one out, moved to third on consecutive wild pitches and scored when Tyler Kowalkowski grounded out. A two-out double by Shane Fox plated another run.

“We didn’t play all that well today,” Mars coach Andy Bednar said. “We let them (Kiski) hang around and when you do that, bad things can happen.”

Nothing was happening with Kiski’s bats with Joey Craska on the mound for Mars. Craska, a sophomore who has verbally committed to Virginia Tech, struck out 12 in 4.1 innings and allowed only three balls to be put in play.

With one out in the fifth, Bednar replaced Craska because the latter’s pitch count was at 95. He walked four batters and had to escape a bases-loaded jam in the second.

“His fastball was moving, probably around 86 or 87,” Bednar said. “But Joey hadn’t pitched in a week and a half and it showed. He didn’t have the command he normally has.”

Kiski coach Kyle Morrow said strikeouts had not been a problem for his team, though the Cavaliers were outscored 29-1 in dropping their previous two games this season.

“That kid is awfully good,” Morrow said. “He committed to Virginia Tech as a freshman for a reason.”

The Cavaliers got to the Mars bullpen with four runs in the sixth to knot the game. Pinch-hitter Ryne Wallace, Cam Guercio and Garret Polka all had run-scoring singles in the frame.

Mars scored without a hit again in the sixth. Michalski was hit by a pitch, stole second, was bunted to third by Wetherholt and scored when Rowen Fletcher’s two-out liner to center was dropped.

“They say when you play for one run, you only get one run. Sometimes you only need one run,” Bednar said.

Billy Perroz homered leading off the top of the seventh to tie the game at five, setting up Mars’ heroics in the bottom of the inning.

“We played better today and showed something in coming back, but I feel like we should have won this game,” Morrow said. “We gave away too many runs.”

Michalski didn’t mind the wild finish.

“It’s good to get battle-tested early,” he said.

Note: Mars (4-3, 2-1) suffered its first section loss of the season, a 4-1 setback to North Hills on Friday.

Kiski Area 000 004 1 — 5 6 2

Mars 020 201 1 — 6 6 1

1 out when winning run scored

W: Shane Fox 1.1IP (1K, 0BB). L: Zach Morrill 1IP (0K, 0BB).

Kiski Area (0-3, 0-2): Cam Guercio 1B RBI, Garret Polka 1B RBI, Billy Perroz HR, Adam Poleski 1B, Nick Smith 1B, Ryne Wallace 1B RBI

Mars (4-2, 2-0): Joey Craska 2B 1B, Jack Anderson 1B, Anthony Michalski 1B RBI 2-R, Frank Craska 1B, Jon Wetherholt 2-R, Tyler Kowalkowski RBI, Shane Fox 2B RBI