The saying "a win is a win," may be overused, but it could not be more applicable than Thursday's Game 4 of the Kelly Federation championship series between two-time defending champ Martin Oil and Park Furniture.
The Bellwood-based squad registered just two hits and committed three errors, but used timely hitting and a gutsy performance from pitcher Jordan Miller to clinch its third straight Kelly Federation league title, 5-2, at Vets Field.
"We didn't hit the ball that well," Martin Oil coach Ron Mock said. "But, we were able to capitalize on their mistakes and walks."
Martin Oil got going early as Jake Stapleton reached via error, Zach Mock walked and Miller was hit by a pitch to start the inning.
Cleanup hitter and league Most Valuable Player Trenton Creppage was then hit by a pitch to score the game's first run.
Two batters later, Tanner Snyder singled in Mock and Miller to give Martin Oil an early 3-0 advantage. It was all the runs it needed to win three straight games after dropping the first game of the series.
"The first inning was the difference," Park Furniture coach Scott McClellan said. "We played well, but you have to play all seven innings."
That's when Park Furniture pitcher Derek Cursio went into cruise control.
Cursio, who had two hits for Park, struck out the next six batters after Snyder's two-RBI single and finished with 15 strikeouts and allowed just two hits.
"It's a shame someone had to lose as well as (Cursio) pitched," Mock said. "My hat's off to him, he threw a heck of a game, but like I said, we capitalized when we had to."
Park Furniture got on the board in the second inning when Cursio doubled and was singled in by designated hitter Tommy Walter.
Walter advanced to second on an error and third on a passed ball, but was left on base when Miller got a strike out and fly out to end the threat.
Park's Joel Reighard walked to start the second and eventually scored when a Martin Oil throw went into left field trying to catch Reighard stealing.
It was Park's last run on the board, but not for a lack of opportunity, as Miller routinely worked his way out of jams to leave Park with 10 runners left on base.
"Jordan got stronger as the game went on," Mock said. "I talked to him before the seventh inning and he said he was ready to finish."
Martin Oil added two insurance runs in the top of the sixth inning.
Snyder walked to start the frame and moved all the way to third on an error then scored on a throwing error by Catcher Cumming while trying to claim third.
After a strikeout, Randy Zitterbart walked and eventually scored with two outs when Park Furniture dropped a routine fly ball that would have ended the inning.
Park made it interesting in the bottom of the seventh inning, as Josh DeGol and Dom Lombardo each reached base with two outs, but Miller struck out Cursio on a full count to claim the title.
"I just had to settle down work around the batters," Miller said of his ability to hold Park's scoring to a minimum. "I was able to throw strikes when I had to and it worked out"
Miller and shortstop Tristan Lingafelt, who was named the championship series MVP, were both players that played for Tyrone's high school team, but decided to play for the Bellwood squad because of Tyrone's lack of a team.
It's Miller's first summer playing for Martin Oil, an opportunity that he took full advantage of.
"I'm enjoying the opportunity," Miller said. "I played against a lot of these guys, with us all being from Bellwood and Tyrone. (The opportunity) came up and I talked to some of the guys and I was interested in playing."
Park Furniture's season ends on a wasted performance by Cursio, but each team will advance to the NABF World Series tournament in Struthers, Ohio next week.
"All of their runs scored on walks, errors and hit batters," McClellan said. "But, we will pick some guys up (for the NABF World Series), but we're glad to play some more games together."
On the other hand, Martin Oil is starting to get used to making the trip to Ohio.
"It's our third year in a row (advancing to the world series)," Mock said. "We're looking forward to it."
Game notes: The league's yearly awards were presented prior to the game to Regular Season Champion (Martin Oil), Regular Season Runner-Up (Park Furniture), League MVP (Trenton Creppage; Martin Oil), Most Valuable Pitcher (Ryan Kipp; D.C. Moyer); Sportsmanship Award (Jared Boober); Most Outstanding Rookie (Ryan Kipp; D.C. Moyer); Rookie of the Year (Catcher Cumming; Park Furniture)...Martin Oil's Tristan Lingafelt was named the championship series MVP after the game.
MARTIN OIL (5): Stapleton cf 410, Mock lf 310, Miller p 310, Creppage c 200, Parson cr 000, Lingafelt ss 300, Snyder 2b 211, N. Soellner rf 300, Zitterbart 3b 300, Z. Soeller 1b 301. Totals - 25 5 2.
PARK FURNITURE (2): Reighard ss 310, McGinnis 2b 300, Cumming c 401, DeGol 3b 302, Lombardo 1b 301, Cursio p 412, Adams cf 000, Walter dh 302, Luciano rf 200, Thompson rf 100, Matzik lf 200. Totals - 28 2 8.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Martin Oil300 002 0-5 2 3
Park Furniture011 000 0-2 8 4
E-Mock, Creppage, Lingafelt, Reighard, Cursio, Cumming, Matzik. 2B-Cursio. RBI-Snyder 2, Creppage, Walter. SAC-McGinnis. LOB-Martil Oil 6; Park Furniture 10.
Martin Oil: Miller-7IP, 8H, 2R, 1 ER, 7K, 3 BB.
Park Furniture: Cursio-7IP, 2H, 5R, 2 ER, 15 K, 5BB.