CARMICHAELS -- Gage Gillott had a no-hitter through five innings and Mitch's Bail Bonds made the most of three Carmichaels errors for a 4-1 victory Sunday night in Game 1 of the Fayette County Baseball League semifinals at Carmichaels High School.
The second game of the best-of-3 series moves to Charleroi's Veteran Memorial Field on Monday night as the defending champs look to force a Game 3.
The visitors scored first with two runs in the top of the second inning.
T.J. Lux opened the inning with a swinging bunt to the right of the mound. Carmichaels starting pitcher Hunter Robinson made the play, but his hurried throw sailed wide and out of play to put Lux at second base.
Nick Kumor singled past third baseman Chuck Gasti to put runners on the corners. Kumor then stole second base.
Drew Garth hit a ground ball to second baseman Brock Bonadio, whose only play was to first base as Lux scored.
With Kumor at third base and the infield drawn in, Adam Jacko hit a ground ball to shortstop Brody Bonadio. Bonadio threw home to catcher John Przybylinski, but Kumor avoided the tag for a 2-0 lead.
The visitors added to the lead in the top of the third inning.
Aaron Previsky was safe on fielder's choice with one out. Previsky took off for second base, drawing shortstop Bonadio to the base for the throw. Travis Sankovich grounded the ball to shortstop, but Bonadio was unable to stop his momentum for a single and runners on the corners.
Sankovich stole second. Previsky attempted to score on a wild pitch, but Przybylinski's throw to Robinson was in time for the out.
Noah Hansen followed with a fly ball to short right field. The Copperheads' Joel Spishock was unable to hang on to the ball after a long run, allowing Sankovich to come home with the third run.
Meanwhile, Gillott was holding the Carmichaels at bay through the first five innings without a hit in his first FCBL start of the season, although the Copperheads had runners on three of the innings.
Gillott walked Joby Lapkowicz with one out in the first inning, hit Joe Pacconi and walked Brock Bonadio in the second, and walked Pacconi in the third, but stranded all five runners.
"We have to be more consistent in how we've hit the ball," said Carmichaels manager Dickie Krause. "The Mill Run game (in the regular season finale) was a microcosm of our season. We hit in two innings, but not the other innings."
Mitch's Bail Bonds added a fourth run in the top of the sixth inning.
Sankovich opened the inning with a walk, stole second and moved to third when the throw sailed into center field. He scored on Hansen's double.
Carmichaels broke up Gillott's no-hit bid when Brody Bonadio hit a line drove off the right-hander for an infield single to give the Copperheads runners at first and second. Gillott closed the threat with a strikeout and fly ball.
"I heard there were no hits in the fifth inning, but I continued to pitch lights out," said Gillott.
Mitch's Bail Bonds threatened one last time in the top of the seventh inning when Gillott, batting for designated hitter Shaun Mikulan, singled with one out and moved to second when Branson Auckerman was hit on the helmet by a Drake Long pitch.
Gillott stole third and courtesy runner Kyle Ridley followed for runners at second and third. Pinch-hitter Chris Rendulic hit a ground ball to shortstop, but Brody Bonadio's throw to the plate was in time for the out on Gillott.
The runners advanced a base on a wild pitch, but the threat ended with a ground out to Gasti.
The Carmichaels trio of Robinson, Logan Mayhle and Drake Long allowed just five hits, walked two, struck out five, and hit three batters, including Garrett Stevenson twice. The second time, by Mayhle, bounced off Stevenson's helmet, popped over the backstop and landed out of play.
"We found ourselves in an unexpected pitching situation," said Krause. "We expected Hunter to go two innings and he gave us three innings. It should've been 1-0 (when Robinson exited the game).
"It was just little things. Overall, I'm happy with how our young pitchers competed."
"We made the most of our hits. Our base running was good, but we left some out there, too," said Mitch's Bail Bonds manager Ryan Encapera. "We kept their pitchers on alert. The key was getting to Robinson early."
Carmichaels finally broke through in its last at-bat. Tyler Reyes singled up the middle with one out and Nick Ricco followed with a single that was trapped by center fielder Previsky.
Pacconi hit a ground ball to Jacko at second base, who threw to Sankovich for the out at second. Sankovich's throw to first deflected off Ricco's helmet and Reyes alertly scored when the ball settled in right field.
Gillott struck out 10, walked four and hit one batter.
"I just wanted to stick to my plan and try to command my fastball, and throw a lot of strikes," explained Gillott.
"It was a well-pitched game by Gage," said Encapera. "He throws pretty hard."
All parties involved understand the series is far from over.
"We've been with our back to the walls before. It is what it is," said Krause, adding, "It's do or die."
"They already know," Encapera said of his squad. "With Carmichaels, it's not over until we get the final out or Carmichaels scores the final run."
"Carmichaels is always a tough team in this league. We expect them to come back" added Gillott.