TALLMADGE — So far this spring, the fortunes of Tallmadge and Aurora baseball have been about as constant as Northeast Ohio’s weather in April.
While this was not totally unexpected, given that both teams replaced large numbers of starters this spring, both teams hope to find their top form as the second half of the season begins.
On Tuesday at Dave Young Field, the Greenmen’s young squad showed it might be rounding into form.
Aurora scored a 4-0 win over the Blue Devils to hand Tallmadge its first loss in the Suburban League American Conference. Aurora improved to 8-5 overall and 4-3 in the American Conference, while the Blue Devils dropped to 7-3 overall and 4-1 in the conference.
The star of the game for the Greenmen was sophomore pitcher Jack Fecko. The quick-working southpaw gave up only one Tallmadge hit in a complete-game effort, as he struck out four and walked five in seven shutout innings.
"We’re still young," Aurora head coach Michael Brancazio said. "Those type of starts, you can really build on to become a good start."
With the majority of the Blue Devils’ lineup batting left-handed, Brancazio thought Fecko had a chance to be successful.
"Whatever the lineup is, I just want to throw my pitches," Fecko said. "The fastball was working. I’ve always trusted my defense."
The Greenmen committed just one error in the contest, while Tallmadge had several mistakes. Blue Devils head coach Kenny Linn said he couldn’t expect his team to waltz through the American Conference.
"That’s a good team and this is a conference game," he said. "We beat them two weeks ago and I’m sure they wanted to get us back. We made our share of loud outs. They made all the plays when they needed it.
"The bottom line is, if you can’t score, you’re not going to win."
Tallmadge starting pitcher Todd Bangston (3-1) also suffered his first loss of the season. Like Fecko, he pitched a complete game, allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits with three strikeouts, one walk and one hit batter.
"He threw well enough to get the win," Linn said. "We just didn’t give him any support at all."
Aurora struck first in the top of the second inning after catcher Colin McNamara reached base on an error and right fielder John Papesh was hit by a pitch. Designated hitter Mike Carpenter hit a run-scoring single and second baseman Chase Gerbrick smacked a run-scoring double to make it 2-0.
The Greenmen looked to blow the game open in the top of the third, as they loaded the bases with no outs, thanks to a single by center fielder Cooper Bizjak, an infield single by shortstop Will Carpenter and a walk to McNamara.
However, Bangston nearly got out of it, as he struck out Carter Gerbrick and got Papesh to ground out to second base. Papesh was able to beat the relay throw to avoid a double play and allow Bizjak to score and make it 3-0.
The Blue Devils’ best chance to score came in the bottom of the third. After Devin Norton drew a leadoff walk and designated hitter Joe Elli struck out, third baseman Luke Thomas smashed a double to left to put runners on second and third.
However, Tallmadge catcher Richie Eyre was then robbed of a potential run-scoring single on a great grab by Evan McVay. Blue Devils’ center fielder Sam Seeker then flew out to deep left to end the threat.
Aurora added its fourth run in the top of the fifth, as Mike Carpenter hit his second run-scoring single of the game to score pinch runner Kyle Obly.
Fecko was in command through the rest of the game, as Tallmadge didn’t advance a runner past second base.
"We’ve been showing flashes that we can be a good team," Brancazio said. "I’ve told people, ‘Don’t judge our team based on what you see in March and early April.’"
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO.