CONNELLSVILLE — Connellsville moved a game closer to clinching second place in the Fayette County American Legion Baseball League standings Monday night with an 11-1 win in six innings against visiting Farmington.
The two teams were scheduled to play again Tuesday night, as the regular season winds down to its conclusion at the end of the week.
Connellsville entered Tuesday night’s game with an 11-3 record and the inside track to second place, a first-round bye in the playoffs and an automatic berth into the region tournament.
Connellsville also travels to Smithfield-Fairchance on Wednesday night.
Farmington, though, has a muddier future after going to 6-7 after the loss. In addition to Tuesday’s game against Connellsville, Farmington also has a doubleheader at Uniontown Friday night.
“It’s tough with the doubleheader,” said Farmington coach John Harim. “We had the week off with the rain. It seemed to hurt us. The rain was a killer.”
Connellsville manager Joe Bonadio said Monday’s game, and the two remaining scheduled contests are just business as usual.
“We look at it as another game. Do your job. Do what it takes to win,” said Bonadio.
As for playing Farmington twice in 24 hours, Bonadio cautioned “not to take them for granted. They can come back and beat you.”
Connellsville starting pitcher Tanner Orndorff a rocky start, but held Farmington to only one run.
Austin Rates walked to open the game, but was caught stealing in a rundown for the first out.
Wyatt Rishel followed with a walk and advanced to second on John Harim’s single. Orndorff struck out Nolan Sennett swinging for the second out.
Jeremy Saliba stroked a single up the middle and Wyatt Rishel slid around Connellsville catcher Cade Warrick’s sweeping tag for the early lead.
Tyler Frey grounded out the end the inning.
Orndorff settled down after the first inning, allowing only three runners (two walks and an infield single) over the next five innings. He stranded a runner at third in the second inning and at second in the fifth, striking out six and giving up only three hits.
“Tanner was slow to start, but once he got going he was efficient,” praised Joe Bonadio.
“Their pitcher was throwing hard. He had good velocity and was throwing strikes,” said coach Harim.
Connellsville made the most of only one hit in the bottom of the first inning by scoring three unearned runs.
Brant Bonadio’s one-out grounder was mishandled. John Harim struck out Austin Petraglia swinging, but Cade Warrick kept the inning alive with a walk.
Cole Shearer was hit on the crown of his helmet to load the bases. Caleb Dillon singled home Bonadio and Collyn Flynn came through with a two-run single.
Connellsville put up two more runs in the bottom of the third on RBI singles by Dillon and Flynn, and extended the lead to 7-1 on Brant Bonadio’s two-run single in the bottom of the fourth inning.
The Connellsville offense pounded out four hits in the bottom of the fifth inning, including triples by Flynn and DJ Farkas. Flynn’s run-scoring triple, Jake Frick’s infield single and Ridley’s sacrifice fly made the score 10-1.
The mercy rule was invoked in the bottom of the sixth inning without benefit of a hit. Two walks and a misplayed fly ball loaded the bases, and Shearer walked to bring home the 11th run.
“Errors that multiplied. It really hurts,” said coach Harim. “We tell the boys to keep battling, keep trying their best.
“Our boys have to put the bat on the ball.”
“We kept chipping away. They’re a good team,” said coach Bonadio.
Connellsville received a lot of production from seventh through 10th batters in the lineup. Flynn was 3-for-3 with four RBI. Farkas had a pair of hits, as did Frick. Frick and Ridley both knocked in a run.
“That’s what’s big. To get the lower part of the order to produce. That’s huge for a team,” said coach Bonadio.