by Steve Batko
Hitting is starting to come around and coupled with some solid pitching, the Streetsboro baseball team is quietly looking to be a contender in the County Division of the Portage Trail Conference.
The Rockets split a doubleheader on April 18 against Southeast.
Head coach Chris Scisciani saw his club lose 5-4 in the first game and then post a 4-0 victory in the nightcap at home.
The opening loss was the first PTC setback for Streetsboro (4-5 overall), which is 4-1 in the division. Woodridge sits atop the PTC County at 5-0. Southeast fell to 2-3 in the division.
Senior Austin Szemacs earned his first win of the spring with a brilliant five inning, one-hit pitching effort.
Szemacs (1-1) also had two singles and a stolen base in the shutout win. He struck out six batters. He was relieved in the sixth inning by junior knuckleballer Chad Konik, who earned his first save of the year.
"Austin was healthy for his first start of the year and he pitched a gem." Scisciani said. "I should have left him in the game, but his pitch count was high."
The Rockets outhit Southeast 11-3 and played strong defense as Jordan Krych (0-2) lost for Southeast.
Gage Simpkins, a senior, had a run batted in the win as did junior Ricky Delambo, who had a pair of singles.
Simpkins started on the hill for Streetsboro in game one and pitched well, but three of the four runs that Southeast scored in the top of the sixth inning were unearned. The Rockets had three errors and trailed 5-0 at that point.
However, Streetsboro pushed across four runs in the bottom half of the sixth frame.
It wasn't enough, but the Rockets showed resilience despite being outhit 13-7.
"Gage pitched pretty well and we were hitting the ball well, but we had some unearned runs come across," Scisciani said.
"That's what we have been trying to avoid and we are playing good baseball now."
Senior Austin Ritts banged out three hits in the game and had an RBI, while junior Chase Galinsky added two singles and two RBIs. Simpkins fell to 1-1.
Scisciani is pleased with his offense, which has to work for runs at times.
"We had 12 hits against Garfield and 11 hits against Southeast, so we are hitting the ball hard and much better now," he said.
On April 17, Streetsboro earned a 10-4 victory against County Division rival James A. Garfield in Garrettsville. Delambo got the win to move to 2-1 on the season.
"Ricky pitched well and he did what we talked about doing coming in and that is to settle down and throw strikes," Scisciani said.
The Rockets' pitching staff has only allowed three walks in its last three games.
"That was one of our challenges for our staff was to throw strikes and the kids are doing just that," Scisciani said.
Sophomore Bobby Dixon went 4-for-4 and knocked in a career high four runs.
"Bobby had a great game," Scisciani said. "He is someone else who can help our pitching staff, but Bobby has had a sore right shoulder."
Streetsboro was scheduled to host PTC foe Ravenna April 21 before heading to Kent Roosevelt for a PTC showdown April 22. Results of those games were not available at press time.
The Rockets are set to entertain Barberton April 25 at 4:30 p.m.
Streetsboro is scheduled to host County Division rival Waterloo April 28 before heading to Atwater to play Waterloo April 29. First pitch for both games is set for 4:15 p.m.