They wanted to keep all of their arms fresh.
Southpaw Ian McCluskey got the starting nod in Sunday’s championship against the Kennesaw Rays at Hillgrove High School and worked the first four innings on two days rest. Mike Dzurenko worked two innings after throwing 60 pitches Friday, and Clark Schmidt, Clate’s younger brother, came in to get a quick save in Allatoona’s 2-1 victory.
“Everyone we threw (Sunday) had already thrown,” Allatoona summer league coach Brad Strickland said. “Ian threw a complete game shutout Thursday and threw four innings (Sunday), and that was big for us.”
The Rays never posed a serious threat against McCluskey in the first four innings or against Dzurenko in the fifth, but the sixth inning was a different story.
Dzurenko may have started feeling the effects of throwing 60 pitches two days ago after working a scoreless fifth. He gave up a double to leadoff hitter Alex Ambio to start the inning. Wesley Christian reached on a fieder’s choice before Tyler Queen, also North Cobb’s quarterback, doubled him home.
After Dzurenko prevented further damage in the inning by inducing consecutive pop outs to center field, the Buccaneers put Schmidt on the mound to finish it off. Schmidt recorded two quick outs, the second being a strikeout on three pitches, before North Cobb JV player Noah Hahlbohn kept the Rays alive with a double to right.
Allatoona shook off the double and Schmidt struck out Jack Rowan looking to end the game.
The Rays had three errors in the game, which helped Allatoona’s cause. Two of those errors came in the first inning, and the Buccaneers took advantage.
With two outs in the bottom of the first, Allatoona’s Austin Rogers reached on an error, stole second and an additional throwing error put Rogers on third. Cleanup hitter Bradley Lewis followed with a single that scored Rogers.
“We out-hit (Allatoona) 6-5 but our three errors were costly,” Rays coach Brad Strickland said. “We also didn’t handle situational hitting well, and you can’t do that in a 2-1 ballgame.”
The Buccaneers ended up getting what turned out to be their insurance run in the fourth. Kris Patel and T.J. Watson recorded back-to-back singles to left and Spencer Schearer brought Patel home with another single to left.
“That was big,” Strickland said. “We needed that.”
North Cobb JV pitcher Sam Fulkerson worked all six innings for the Rays and was solid, despite getting the loss. He had five strikeouts in the game, his first-inning run was unearned, and gave up just one walk.