Out at the plate! FPC tops Matanzas in a thriller

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  • | 4:00 a.m. March 22, 2014
  • Palm Coast Observer
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PALM COAST — Already through 6 2/3 innings, Flagler Palm Coast coach Jordan Butler let his starting pitcher, Joseph Bernhard, stay in the game to get the final out with the bases loaded and his team up 5-2.

He got the out, but not without some drama.

Matanzas’ Robert Bell smoked a two-run double into the left-center field gap that plated two of the three runners on base, with the third, Tyler Stuart, being gunned down at the plate to end the game, preserving FPC’s 5-4 win over cross-town rival Matanzas Friday night at FPC.

Butler said afterward that he had no worries about keeping his senior pitcher in the game to finish it off.

“We talked about that before the inning,” he said, “that if it gets to the point, where he gets the first two outs, we were going to give him the ball and let him finish it — it was his game.”

After running into some trouble earlier in the game, Bernhard was able to battle back and get the complete-game victory, giving up three earned runs on six hits, while striking out nine and walking two.

“I think he started to loosen up after the third inning,” Butler said. “And he started to get a little angrier and started to have a little more zip on his fastball at that point. He was throwing harder in the fifth and sixth innings than I have seen him throw all year.”

The Pirates took an early 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI double by Matanzas starting pitcher Sam Colasanti, who struck out nine in 3 2/3 innings, while giving up two earned runs.

But FPC struck back with four runs to put them up, 4-1. Mike Ehman lined a two-run double into left field; then, after Ehman came around to score on a throwing error, Austin Coffman singled home Bernhard for the fourth run of the inning.

Colasanti drove in two runs in the game, his second RBI coming in the third on a single into left that plated Tyler Walls from second base.

Walls collected two hits and scored a pair of runs.

The Bulldogs scored what turned out to be the game-winning run in the fourth when Bernhard walked and then took off for second base with Matanzas’ pitcher unaware. With the throw going to second, Mike Ehman took off from third base to score.

BOX: Joseph Bernhard: complete game

FPC coach Jordan Butler considered senior pitcher Joseph Bernhard to be his Player of the Game. Bernhard was able to finish the game for FPC, striking out nine in seven innings, while giving up three earned runs on six hits with just two walks. Bernhard also contributed on offense, stealing a team-high four bases in the game.

One of those stolen bases was the key play in the fourth inning that diverted the attention away from Mike Ehman at third base, letting him take off from for home plate to score the game-deciding run.

“He was a bulldog on the mound. He was able to make pitches when he needed to,” Butler said. “And four stolen bases tonight put a lot of pressure on their defense.”

FPC has had a problem scoring runs this season — going 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position Friday shows that — but its pitching staff has been very good, entering the game with an ERA of 1.73.

And according to MaxPreps.com, Bernhard's ERA after four starts is 1.92.

BOX: Matanzas' nine seniors do their part

After his team’s loss, Matanzas coach Rob Roe wasn't able to pin a Player of the Game performance on just one player, because he preaches a team-first attitude.

Most notably, he gave his nine seniors a lot of credit for what they do for him.

“We had our catcher (Joe Russo) tonight taken out of the game with an ankle injury; as he gets up to throw the ball to third he twisted his ankle on the throw, and that shows just, and it shows heart,” Roe said.

“We had a senior pitcher (David Clymer) come out in the second half, shut them down for a good four or five innings. We had Tyler Stuart in right field, he made a great sliding catch — he’s a senior. And we had a senior out in left field, Chris Colaluca.

“We are stacked with seniors, but to pick just one person and put a favorite on, it’s kind of hard.”



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