Brooks Brenno will never forget his first game as an OFA player in the Jim Pinkerton Memorial Wooden Bat Tournament.
He threw a no-hitter against Malone in the first game of the first tournament.
Likewise he will never forget his first tournament game as the Blue Devils’ head coach.
On Saturday Blue Devil righthander Cam Griffith threw a two-hitter and won a brilliant 2-1 pitching duel against Canton’s southpaw ace David Zuhlsdorf as the Blue Devils gained their second NAC Central win of the season. Griffith allowed just two hits, struck out seven including Canton’s last four batters and walked three.
Zuhlsdorf struck out nine and walked three in a five-hitter.
The Devils (2-7 NAC Central, 3-7) went on to win the tournament championship in a 12-3 win over a Lisbon (11-0 NAC West, 12-1) team playing its eighth game in six days and clinching the NAC West title with a 7-5 nine inning win over Harrisville on Friday.
OFA won the title in their fourth game in three days.
The Knights downed Canton (5-5 NAC Central, 5-6) 8-6 in their first game on Saturday with a vibrant offensive effort highlighted by fence clearing homeruns by Armando Lazaro and Matt Bleau. Lazaro also lifted his team with a determined strong-armed 6 1/3 inning pitching effort.
Devils Win Title
“This tournament has always meant a lot of to me. I pitched a no-hitter in my first game as a player and to win a game like this in my first tournament game as a coach is something really special,” said Coach Brenno.
“I am just glad that our players and Canton’s players could be involved in a game like this. Both pitchers were pounding the strike zone, both teams played solid defense and the bottom of our batting order came through to get the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Cam Griffith just threw an outstanding game.”
Collin Brenno literally ran the Devils into the winning circle.
The number eight batter beat out an infield single, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and then scored on a two-strike squeeze bunt by number nine hitter Ryan Mitchell.
“I knew Ryan could get the bunt down so I told Sarge (Assistant Coach Mike Sargent) that we would do a safety squeeze and send Collin on the throw to first.
But there was no throw to first and Brenno beat the throw to the plate on the bunt.
“It was going to be a safety squeeze but Collin got such a great jump that I just told him to go,” said Coach Sargent.
OFA took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Dylan Sovie singled and came around to score after an error. Canton’s only hits were singles by Luke Wentworth and Zadok Roiger which produced Canton’s lone run in the fourth inniing.
OFA’s other hits were singles by Alex Mitchell and Lucca LaBella.
The Devils’ claimed the tournament behind Tyler Sovie making his first moving up from the JV team for his first varsity start. Sovie struck out 12 and walked three in 5 2/3 innings. Madden West finished the sixth and Alex Mitchell closed in the seventh.
The Devils reached Lisbon starter Cooper Rutherford for five runs in the four innings and pulled away against Matt Bleau and Gabriel Smith who had seen only limited mound action this season.
“It was a long week and we just ran out of pitching. Tyler Sovie pitched very well for OFA,” said Lisbon Coach Dave Gravlin.
Dylan Sovie provided OFA with a huge offensive spark delivering four RBIs with three singles. Ryan Mitchell lined a two-run single, Alex Mitchell and Cam Griffith singled and scored three runs, Lucca LaBella also scored three runs, Logan VanGordon and Tyler Sovie singled and Nicholi Ramsdell scored twice.
Isaac LaRock lined a single, a double and a triple and drove in a run with Armando Lazaro, Isaiah White and Coby Mills stroking singles for Lisbon.
“We are a different team now with Tyler Sovie and other guys moving up and these guys have battled hard. I really think Coach Jim Pinkerton would have liked this team,” said OFA Coach Brooks Brenno.
“Winning this tournament meant a lot to them.”
Big Lisbon effort
The Knights earned a chance to play for the championship by outscoring Canton 8-6 and holding the Bears scoreless over the last three innings.
Armando Lazaro supplied the Knights with a huge effort on the mound and at the plate. He belted a homerun over the leftfield fence in the first inning and then singled twice to finish with five RBIs and complement a pitching effort where he allowed just three hits and weathered nine walks to pitch 6 1/3 innings before exhausting his pitch count. Cooper Rutherford came on to close with two strikeouts.
“Armando did a great job keeping their hitters off balance. He has played a lot of baseball,” said Lisbon Coach Dave Gravlin.
“And we hit the ball very well.”
Matt Bleau drilled his third homerun of the week to drive in two runs and score twice. Lucas Gravlin doubled and singled, Isaac LaRock doubled and Rutherford, Isaiah White and Connor Flack all singled.
Jackson Ames doubled and drove in three runs for Canton to lead the support of freshman Zadok Roiger who struck out six and walked two in pitching a complete game. JJ Ahlfeld and Charlie Todd added singles.
“We had two good games we just left a few runs out there,” said Canton Coach Matt Caufield.
“Dave Zuhlsford pitched a great game against OFA and I was impressed with the way Zadok Roiger pitched a complete game as a freshman.”
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