Stewart’s flawless relief helps Martin even series up

By Jon Fleck

For the Mirror

Martin Oil’s Mark Stewart pitched in relief Wednesday and took the loss as Park Home rallied to win Game 1 of the George B. Kelley Federation championship series.

The lanky righthander was called on to relieve again in Game 2 with a totally different result.

Stewart pitched out of a jam in the fifth, and Martin Oil erased a one-run deficit in the sixth with five runs en route to an 8-4 win Thursday at Vets Field that tied the best-of-five series at 1-1.

One of the youngest players on the team, Stewart gave up no runs in three innings, striking out four and walking one, to earn the win.

“I felt stronger and was able to locate a little better,” Stewart said. “I just didn’t have it (Wednesday). I put it completely out of my mind and focused on doing my job.”

Park pitcher Casey Sheetz held Martin Oil to three runs in five innings, but in the sixth, Ian McFarland and Joe Padula led off with back-to-back singles.

Padula squared to bunt before pulling the bat back, chopping one past the mound for an infield single.

After Jack Showalter was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs, McFarland scored on an error that tied the game 4-4 and reloaded the bases.

Trent Whaley brought home Padula with a single to give Martin Oil the lead.

“I just wanted to put the ball in play and get on base,” McFarland said. “The other guys came up with some clutch at bats. Hits are contagious sometimes. It’s a good feeling when that happens.”

Martin Oil added two more on Noah Burns’ sac fly to right. Rightfielder Dylan Benton’s throw to the plate was late. Catcher Owen Kravetz tried to gun down Whaley advancing to third, but the throw went into left field, allowing another run to score.

“We had some guys step up when they needed to,” Martin Oil coach Brock Anders said. “They’ve been doing it all season. We kind of expect it. It’s just a matter of when.”

The game went back and forth early on, starting with Martin Oil scoring two in the top of the first. McFarland tripled home Brendon Kowalski before scoring on a Padula groundout.

Park got both runs back with one in the first and another in the second. In the first, Kravetz singled, went to third on an errant pickoff throw and scored on a John Gority groundout.

Ian Yon ledoff the second with a double and scored on a Benton sac fly.

Padula scored in the fourth to put Martin Oil up 3-2, but Park answered with a pair in the bottom half to take the lead.

After Jake Plunket was hit by a pitch, Yon doubled down the left field line to put runners on second and third with no outs. Both came around to score. The first on a Benton groundout. The second on a Mike Folcarelli single to right.

In the fifth, Martin Oil starter Mason Akers walked Sheetz to start the inning. Stewart relieved and promptly gave up a single to Kravetz, putting runners on first and second with no outs.

Stewart got Gority to ground into a 5-3 double play and struck out Yon to end the threat.

“We had a chance to tack on a couple more runs there but didn’t do it,” Park coach Scott McClellan said. “They put some hits together, and we didn’t. It’s a new game [Friday]. I told them to bring a different attitude and forget this one ever happened.”

Whaley and McFarland had two hits each for Martin Oil. Kravetz and Yon had two hits apiece for Park.

Games 3 is 7 p.m. today at Vets Field. Game 4 is 7 p.m. Saturday at Vets Field as well.

MARTIN OIL (8): Kowalski cf 310, McFarland lf 422, Padula 1b 221, Showalter c 301, Shaulis cr 000, Wood ss 310, Whaley eh 312, Walker rf 311, Burns 3b 200, Akers p 200, Stewart p 101, Schmoke 2b 301. TOTALS – 29 8 9.

PARK HOME (4): Sheetz p-ss 300, Kravetz c 412, Gority 1b 400, Plunket ss-p 110, Yon 3b 322, Benton rf 200, Georgiana lf 301, Gibson 2b 000, Folcarelli dh 301, Miller cf 200. TOTALS – 4 6 5.

SCORE BY INNINGS

MARTIN OIL 200 105 0–8 9 2

PARK HOME 110 020 0–4 6 4

E–Akers, Walker, Miller, Yon, Kravetz, Gibson. 2B–Stewart, Yon 2. 3B–McFarland. RBI–McFarland, Padula, Whaley 2, Wood, Burns, Stewart, Gority, Benton 2, Folcarelli. WP–Stewart. LP–Sheetz. SO–Akers 1, Stewart 4, Sheetz 1. BB–Akers 1, Stewart 1, Sheetz 1, Plunket 1.

Best-of-five series is tied 1-1.

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