ERIE — Leave it to a struggling hitter to come off the bench and stop the Tri-Valley League trend Erie has been riding.
The way BJ Jensen figured it, Kyle Leahy deserved better on Saturday. After struggling to come through with runners on base early against Frederick, the Tigers finally got the clutch hit they were looking for in the fifth inning, and Leahy brilliantly made it stand for a 2-0 win over the Warriors at the EHS field.
Jensen’s two-out, two-run double in his first plate appearance helped complete Erie’s two-game sweep of the Warriors, the first such sweep of the season for the Tigers (6-4, 5-3 Tri-Valley), who finally have some separation in league play.
“We kept having opportunities and we knew one of them was going to come through eventually, and BJ came through with a big hit,” said Leahy, who worked the FHS lineup to the tune of two hits, no walks and nine strikeouts. “It was a big hit for him, not only for his season but it helped us win the game. Huge. We know he’s a good hitter, he’s just been struggling. We know he’ll come through.”
Jensen was 3 for 17 entering the game, but that did not stop head coach Harold Simmons from putting him in for Kyle Blount, who was 1 for 1 with a walk on the afternoon, too.
It proved to be worthwhile, as Jensen took a Michael Broz pitch deep to left field to score Tyler Hurst and Dylan Brink. The Tigers had left nine runners on base in the prior four frames.
“I knew I had to get those guys in, because we had two outs and it was late in the game,” said Jensen. “I just told myself to relax. (A double was) not what I was expecting, but it worked.
“We have to do whatever we can to help Kyle out, because he’s doing great on the mound for us. We have to return the favor.”
To Frederick’s credit, the Warriors made some outstanding defensive plays to keep the game scoreless. In the third inning, with the bases loaded and one out, second baseman Lane Hiser caught a looping ball in short right, returning it to the infield to prevent the run from scoring.
Again in the fourth, shortstop Eric Worley dove on a ball up the middle and flipped it to second base for an out in a situation where a run likely would have scored if the ball had gotten through.
Both times, Erie threats were denied completely.
“It was a well-played game,” said Frederick coach Ted Clapp, whose team fell to 6-6 and 3-5 in league. “Difference in the game for us was walks. Their kid walked two, maybe three. Our kids did a good job on the mound, but it still comes down to, you can’t put guys on for free.
“I thought we played extremely well defensively, and we hit the ball hard. We just happened to hit the ball to them a lot.”
Frederick’s hits included doubles by Trystin Montano and Mitchell Held. Leahy was masterful in making sure he kept those from being costly. Three different times, he struck out consecutive batters to end innings, and he also induced a double-play grounder in the fifth.
“I hadn’t thrown at home yet this year, and I had some good defense behind me so that helped the confidence, as well,” Leahy said, improving to 2-1 without yet giving up an earned run in 15 1/3 innings. “Getting separation in league was big, getting up a game instead of dropping back. We’re more in control of our own destiny.”
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Erie 2, Frederick 0
At Erie HS
Frederick 000 000 0 — 0 2 0
Erie 000 020 x — 2 7 2
W — Kyle Leahy. L — Michael Broz.
Frederick hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Eric Worley 3-0-0-0, Lane Hiser 3-0-0-0, Michael Broz 3-0-0-0, Ryan Cawthra 3-0-0-0, Trystin Montano 3-0-1-0, Dalton Nelson 3-0-0-0, Jose Rodriguez 2-0-0-0, Justin Smith 1-0-0-0, Brandon Schaa 1-0-0-0, Mitch Held 2-0-1-0. Totals 24-0-2-0. 2B —Montano, Held.
Erie hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Joe Ramey 4-0-1-0, Colton Brink 3-0-2-0, Caleb Crites 2-0-0-0, Kyle Leahy 1-1-1-0, Tyler Hurst 0-0-0-0, Zane Begano 3-0-0-0, Kody Dotson 4-0-0-0, Dylan Brink 2-1-0-0, Kyle Blount 1-0-1-0, BJ Jensen 1-0-1-2, Josh Crites 1-0-1-0. Totals 22-2-7-2. 2B — Leahy, Jensen. SB —C. Brink, C. Crites, D. Brink.
Frederick pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Broz 4.2-6-2-2-6-5, Matt Entrekin 1.1-1-0-0-2-1.
Erie pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Leahy 7-2-0-0-0-9.