YORK TWP. — The spirit is back at James H. Tighe Baseball Field and with it is some of the swagger.
Nine games into its season, Buckeye has given every indication it’s not ready to surrender the Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division title.
That was on display Thursday, when Buckeye gutted out a 3-2 win against Fairview thanks to timely hitting and strong pitching by Liam Murray.
“It’s been very positive,” Bucks catcher Tyler Sovizral said. “We’re just rolling, getting ahead early and playing our game. Everybody is relaxing.”
That relaxation has led to a stress-free dugout, as Buckeye (4-5, 4-1) is on a three-game winning streak after taking two from Wellington and knocking off the Warriors (2-4, 1-3).
Against Fairview, the Bucks jumped out to a three-run lead and then held tight.
“We’ve come out with more energy,” Buckeye coach Steve Wright said. “We’re more consistent and being patient at the plate.”
Through the first three innings, it looked like it was going to be a conference pitching duel for the ages as Murray (1-1) and Derek Schwarber (0-2) were locked in.
Murray had allowed just one hit and Schwarber was only a walk to Barrett Huspaska away from perfection, but Buckeye drew first blood when Cory Inman singled in the bottom of the fourth to left.
Jeff Susalla and Sovizral followed with walks to load the bases and Andrew Maxwell added a one-out sacrifice fly to score Inman.
While the one run didn’t look like much, it was enough to put a chink in the armor of Schwarber.
“It was a key hit and it definitely got us rolling,” Wright said. “It made things a lot easier for the rest of the hitters.”
Those hitters caught fire in the fifth when Huspaska, Jake Johnson and Inman loaded the bases again. Susalla had a one-out RBI single to right and Sovizral followed with a run-scoring single to left.
Murray, who struck out 10 and walked five in a complete-game performance, got himself out of a pickle in the sixth after a two-run single by David Coletto made it a one-run game. Fairview loaded the bases after Coletto’s base hit, but Murray induced Chris Corrigan to ground out to first to end the inning.
“It was important to keep that motivation and mentality going into the seventh inning and let my teammates make the plays behind me,” Murray said. “You get the confidence, throw the ball a little faster and not try to spot the ball as much.”
Murray came out for the seventh, ending things with a strikeout to even his record. Other than the one bad inning, the sophomore was pretty much untouchable.
“He’s a very low-key kid and is very relaxed in every situation,” Wright said. “I had all the confidence in the world in him going out there and winning this game for us. I knew he pitched relaxed and would be able to get it done.”
More importantly, the victory kept the Bucks one game behind Keystone in the Stars race in a division where every win matters.
“Honestly, we’re not even looking at Keystone right now,” Sovizral said. “We’re just going out and playing our game, going out and winning. It’s one game at a time. We’re just rolling.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.
Buckeye 3, Fairview 2
FAIRVIEW 000 002 0 — 2 6 0
BUCKEYE 000 120 x — 3 5 0
WP — Liam Murray (1-1) 7 innings, 2 earned runs, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts. LP — Derek Schwarber (0-2) 5 innings, 3 runs, 3 earned, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts. Fairview (2-4, 1-3) — Schwarber single, double, run; Fishkill 2 singles. Buckeye (4-5, 4-1).