CARMICHAELS — Justin Schrader didn’t look like he missed a beat Tuesday night after a long hiatus away from the Fayette County Baseball League, pitching Carmichaels to a season-opening 10-1 victory over the visiting Fayette Raiders.
And, the stellar performance was on his birthday, to boot.
The game was called with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning after lightning was sighted. Given the late time in the evening of the (at least) 30-minute weather delay, the umpires called the game at that point.
Schrader allowed only two runners in his three innings of work.
The first was a walk to Josh Davison to open the game. Davison stole second and third, but was stranded there after Schrader struck out the side.
Schrader struck out the side in the top of the second inning, and struck out the first two batters of the third inning.
John Hovanec broke the strikeout string when he reached first base on an infield error and took second on a passed ball, but that’s where the left fielder stayed with Schrader striking out Davison for the third out.
“It all started with Schrader. He set the tempo,” praised Carmichaels manager Dickie Krause. “It’s great getting him back.”
Krause said he received a text from Schrader about returning to the Copperheads after a six-season absence. He said it didn’t take long to shoot off an affirmative reply to the right-hander.
“You saw his demeanor. He’s always so composed out there,” said Krause. “Justin has always been a good pitcher in this league.”
Krause added, “We had him on three innings or about 50 pitches. He could’ve gone to the fourth inning, but why push it.”
While Schrader was holding the Raiders at bay, the Copperheads jumped ahead in their first at-bat.
Drake Long and Joel Spishock both reached on infield errors to open the bottom of the first inning. Joby Lapkowicz moved both runners up a base after he grounded out to first base.
Nick Ricco singled home Long. Chuck Gasti walked. Jacob Fordyce’s fly ball to left field brought Spishock home for an early 2-0 lead.
“It’s the same thing. We’re not hitting and making very unfortunate errors at bad times,” said Fayette manager Vince Dellapenna.
Lane Zekir retired the side in the bottom of the second inning, but was unable to escape the third inning after he was tossed from the game by plate umpire Joe Volpe.
Spishock and Lapkowicz walked to open the inning, and both advanced a base on Ricco’s single. Gasti ripped a two-run single. Zekir struck out Fordyce, but J.W. Kayla was able to hold his swing for a walk to load the bases.
That’s the last batter Zekir faced with Davison entering the game. The first batter faced led to an infield error and a run.
Nate Torbich dropped a flare down the left field line for a two-run single. Long flied out to left field, but Spishock kept the inning going with a run-scoring single.
Lapkowicz walked to load the bases, but Davison closed the threat with an inning-ending strikeout.
The Raiders turned a nifty double play in the fourth inning, but the Copperheads lit up the scoreboard with two more runs in the fifth inning. Both runs scored on passed balls after Dylan Rush’s pinch-hit double moved the runners into scoring position.
The Copperheads had runners at first and second after the runs, but Fayette turned another double play to end the threat.
Fayette (0-2) scored its only run in the fourth inning off Nate Torbich, in relief of Schrader.
Anthony Dellapenna walked with one out, stole second base and scored on a two-out infield misplay. Kyle Ridley’s single gave the Raiders runners at first and second, but Torbich ended the inning with a strikeout, his third.
The first 12 outs recorded by Carmichaels were by strikeouts.
Krause quickly transitioned from his high school team to the FCBL squad. The Mikes lost in the PIAA first round to Johnsonburg Monday, 7-2.
“It’s always great to start with a win. It’s nice to be back with the older guys,” said Krause. “I was looking forward to (the season). We have no Covid to deal with (this season).”