After scoring four runs in the first inning, the Spencer baseball team needed a strong defensive effort if they wanted the runs to be enough to hold off Pittsville.
The Rockets got the defense they needed as they held on to defeat second-seeded Pittsville 4-3 Tuesday night in a WIAA Division 3 regional semifinal.
With the win, No. 3 seeded Spencer will face No. 1 Neillsville at 5 p.m. today, in Neillsville. The victory also avenged a 4-3 loss to Pittsville earlier in the season.
The game was originally scheduled to be played at Riverside Park in Pittsville, but due to heavy rain early Tuesday, the game was moved to Spencer, a move that appeared to give the Rockets the early edge they needed.
Spencer shot out to 4-0 lead after just half an inning behind early hits and a pair of Pittsville errors.
Spencer’s Joe Meyers led off with a walk, while Mitch Susa and Alex Brostowitz followed up with a single and walk with one out to load the bases.
Meyers came home on an error that allowed Bobby Pilz to reach, while Susa scored on a wild pitch.
Brostowitz was knocked home on a single by Calvin Lenz, and Lenz tallied the final Spencer score when he took advantage of the second Panther error of the inning.
“I told the guys before the game, if we had the chance to pounce on them in the beginning we better do it,” Spencer coach Leonard Brostowitz said. “We had the chance and we did it, and it was enough to hold us all game.”
Pittsville didn’t let the early runs intimidate them, as they came back in their half of the frame to cut the lead to 4-3.
After Sawyer Ladick came home on a single by Nathan Dupee, Ollie Voight capped the scoring when he knocked in a pair of runs on a single to left-center field.
However, after the first inning, the bats fell silent.
The teams only combined for five more hits after the first, while both pitchers and defenses baffled the opposition.
Spencer starter Mitch Susa fanned four batters in four innings of work, while Matt Ivacik added another in his three frames of work. Pittsville pitcher Andy Fox finished with three strikeouts in 6 1⁄3innings, but was able to pick off a pair of base runners to keep Spencer honest on the bases.
Pittsville had chances throughout the game to tie or take the lead — namely the second and sixth innings when they had a runner on third — but Spencer was able to get out of the jams time and time again.
“We hit the ball hard, but we had some very costly errors,” Pittsville coach Bill Urban said. “Spencer made the plays they had to make. Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you don’t and tonight we didn’t. That’s baseball.”
Spencer 4, Pittsville 3
Pitchers: S, Mitch Susa (W, 4IP, 4K, 1BB), Matt Ivacik (3IP, K,). P, Andy Fox (6.1IP, 3K, 4BB) Sawyer Ladick (.2IP, BB).
Leading Hitters: S, Bobby Pilz 1X3 RBI. P, Ollie Voight 1X2 2RBI.
Records: Spencer 14-4 overall, Pittsville 13-3 overall.