Nick Carothers’ leadoff home run set the stage, and his Lemont teammates followed suit.
Lemont pounded 14 hits as the Ducks evened the best-of-five Centre County Baseball League championship series with a 12-3 romp in Game 2 on Thursday.
Facing a 1-1 count, Carothers took advantage of a pitch that Howard pitcher Brian Pelka left out over the plate and crushed the ball over the fence.
The early lead would only last half an inning, as the Hawks were able to strike for two runs of their own and take a 2-1 lead heading into the second inning.
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It wasn’t until the fifth and sixth innings that the Ducks really got the lumber out, but when they did, they cashed in with multiple big innings.
The onslaught began with clutch hitting and aggressive base running.
“It looks like (Pelka) left a couple pitches up and they don’t miss it.,” Bones Fisher, the Hawks’ third baseman said. “They hit the ball and just didn’t stop. When we did have an opportunity to make plays, I think we left a couple out there. They hit the ball and just didn’t stop, got us in a big hole and pitched well.
“We had two runs in the (first inning) and then just couldn’t get anything else started. You can’t just sit on a small lead against Lemont because they do take advantage of it and they did (Thursday night).”
Down 2-1 in the fifth inning, the Ducks brought 10 batters to the plate and scored six runs on seven hits to take a commanding lead. Carothers led the inning off with a single to center field and then stole second. Back-to-back wild pitches allowed the Ducks’ shortstop to come around and tie the game.
Consecutive singles put two more Ducks on base and Kieren Kempton’s RBI single to left field gave the squad a lead that it would not relinquish. A sacrifice fly, RBI double down the third base line by Eric Wolanski, and a two-RBI single by Scott Glass capped off the fifth.
Patience at the plate was one of the keys for the Ducks’ hitters.
“We’ve been in this situation a lot this year, being right in the thick of things, maybe being down a couple runs or even being ahead a couple runs, just being patient and making sure that we are getting good pitches to hit,” Ducks’ assistant coach Dan Sowash said. “We were aggressive on the base paths, put a lot of pressure on their defense bunting the ball. Our guys did a great job offensively bunting the ball and that helped us produce runs. Plus we had guys hit in the clutch with two outs. With two outs in the sixth inning we scored (five) runs, so being able to do that and guys picking up each other allowed us to put the pressure on and keep it on.”
Renny Parthemore picked up the win for the Ducks in four innings of work, while surrendering three runs on one hit. Pelka took the loss while going 52/3 and gave up 10 runs on 11 hits.
Carothers and Scott Glass both had big nights at the plate for the Ducks. They combined to go four-for-nine with four RBIs, three steals, and two runs scored.
“(Loren Crispell) and (Steven Weaver) put it in our heads all year that we’ve got to take advantage of whatever we can get and if they’re giving us bases, we’ve got to take them even if we’re up,” Carothers said of the team’s aggressive base running. “Even if we’re down big, we’ve got to take whatever we can get.”
The two teams will face off again on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Spring Creek Park in Lemont.