Almost every year, Mother Nature refuses to cooperate when the Ron Fiochetta Memorial Tournament is played at Vets Field with rain forcing delays and cancellations.
This season, however, Coach Fiochetta is sure to be smiling down from Heaven as the tournament commenced Friday afternoon with sunny skies, a truly perfect day for baseball.
The opening game between Hollidaysburg and Bishop Carroll ended in a 16-1 four-inning victory for the Golden Tigers.
Hollidaysburg coach Jon Szynal, who played for and coached under Fiochetta, was happy to have his former coach honored like this.
"It's great to be able to honor such a great baseball guy," said Szynal, whose team plays Altoona at 2 p.m. today in the title game.
The Huskies scored their lone run in the top of the first inning, when cleanup hitter Marty Lessard's double plated Brandon Martinazzi. Hollidaysburg answered with a pair of runs in the home half of the inning, with Trent Sipes scoring on an error by Lessard and an RBI double by Eric Miller. Szynal thought answering right back with runs was one of the keys to the game.
"It's always good when you give up runs in the top of the first inning to get those runs right back in the bottom of the first," Szynal said. "It really set the tone for the rest of the game."
Like a lot of starting pitchers you see, after surviving the first inning, Golden Tigers starter Corey Sell got stronger after allowing that run. Sell threw up goose eggs onto the scoreboard after the first inning, striking out five batters, walking just one and giving up a fourth-inning single.
"I thought he [Sell] threw really well," Szynal said. "He threw strikes and made them put it in play."
After the Golden Tigers scored a run in the second, on an RBI single by Sipes to score Thayne Russell, they scored seven runs on four hits in the third frame. They were also aided by three of Bishop Carroll's five errors coming in the third inning alone. It was highlighted by a two-run, two-out triple by Brett Hileman.
Hollidaysburg added six more runs in the fourth inning. Brian Urban, who was a designated hitter for Sell, and Hileman, hit back-to-back two-run singles and were two of the highlights of the fourth. The game ended when Andy Crum, Hollidaysburg's No. 5 hitter, hit a single to plate Hileman.
Hollidaysburg finished the game with 12 hits, with Hileman leading the way with a 3-for-4 performance, including a double and a triple. He also knocked in four runs.
"I thought the guys did a pretty nice job at the plate tonight," Szynal said.
Huskies coach Matt Pfeil was impressed with the Golden Tigers team.
"Hollidaysburg is a great team fundamentally," he said. "Our kids battled them 'til the end though."
BISHOP CARROLL (1): Lucas 2b 100, Wyatt c 100, Martinazzi ss 211, Lessard 1b/p 202, Farabaugh p/1b 000, Weiland dh 200, Surkovich 3b 200, Mento lf 200, Caretti rf 100, Woo cf 100. Totals 14 1 3.
HOLLIDAYBURG (16): Sipes 2b 232, Sell p 000, Urban dh 422, Hileman ss 433, E. Miller 1b 312, Crum rf 412, McCall 3b 310, R. Miller c 110, Fluke cf 120, Russell lf 221. Totals 24 16 12.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Bishop Carroll100 0 1 3 5
Hollidaysburg217 6 16 12 1
E Mento, Lessard 2, Martinazzi, Surkovich, Sell. 2b Hileman, E. Miller, Lessard. 3B Hileman. RBI Urban 3, Hileman 4, E. Miller, Crum, Lessard. Sf R. Miller. Sb Sipes, Hileman. Hbp Wyatt by Sell. WP Sell. LP Farabaugh. SO Sell 5, Farabaugh 1. BB Sell 1, Farabaugh 4, Lessard 3.
Records: Bishop Carroll (3-9); Hollidaysburg (12-3).