Franklinton sweeps Salmen in regionals

Published 4:03 am Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Franklinton had good pitching, timely hitting and overcame a five-hour weather delay, as the Demons won the first two games in a best-of-three series over Salmen, 10-3 and 6-3, Friday and Saturday at FHS.

The Demons never trailed in the opener, which took place Friday night. Franklinton took a 3-0 lead through one inning. Wyatt Verret, who finished with two hits and two runs scored, reached on an error before advancing on a passed ball with C.J. Estave hitting.

He was intentionally walked and Tanner Sanburn walked to load the bases. Collin Dominguez, who has three hits and six RBIs during the postseason, reached on an RBI fielder’s choice as Sanburn was forced at second. Verret scored to make it 1-0. Zack Bell then hit a flyball to center with two outs that was dropped, allowing courtesy runner Austin Miller and Dominguez to score.

Salmen trimmed the lead to 3-1 in the second when Cole Jackson singled, stole second and scored on a suicide squeeze by Cai Suprean.

The Demons put up another run in the fourth. Verret singled, Estave was hit, Sanburn reached on a bunt single and Dominguez hit a grounder. Sanburn was forced out at second, but Verret scored the fourth run.

Franklinton tacked on four more runs in the fourth. J.J. Jackson singled and Jamarian Crain was hit. Run-scoring singles by Verret, Estave and Sanburn, and a sacrifice fly from Dominguez, plated Jackson, Crain, Verret and Miller to make it an 8-3 game.

FHS put up two more to finalize the scoring in the fifth. Caleb McKenzie singled, J.J. Jackson was hit and Verret walked before Estave and Sanburn coaxed RBI walks, scoring courtesy runner Jared Jenkins and Jackson. It was 10-3 through five.

That was plenty of offense for McKenzie. He worked the complete game, allowing three runs on four hits with seven strikeouts and three walks.

Estave tallied a single and two RBIs and drove in five for the series. Sanburn had two hits, two walks and an RBI and Trent Varnado doubled.

Salmen’s Bryce Darby had two hits and two RBIs. Dylan Cross and Reggie Knight each singled, while Jackson singled and scored.

Franklinton coach Jeff Tageant talked about a number of players who contributed to the series-opening win, including Dominguez’s three RBIs, Verret’s hitting and McKenzie’s pitching.

“He got three RBIs, which was tremendous. He got them at great times,” Tageant said. “We had some guys step up. I mentioned Wyatt Verret, who had a pretty tough outing last game (playoff opener Tuesday against Lakeshore), and came back and had a couple of big hits for us. Caleb did well on the mound. To get a 10-3 win in the first round, we’re excited about it, but we’ve got to come ready to play tomorrow.”

The Demons entered Saturday looking for the series sweep, and it was a day those in attendance likely won’t soon forget.

Franklinton won 6-3 in a contest that featured a comeback win, about a five-hour lightning/rain delay, a pitcher throwing a complete game and plenty of people working to get the field to a playable condition so the game could be completed.

The game got off to an tough start for the Demons, the road team for this game, as the first six hitters struck out. Three of the strikeouts were looking.

Salmen took advantage and scored the game’s first two runs. Nick Talamo, who recorded two hits and two runs, opened the game with a double and later scored on an RBI groundout by Cole Jackson. In the third inning, Zach Lane and Jackson were hit. Darby, who had a single, hit a grounder to third. Lane was tagged out, but as the fielder brought the ball to the pitcher, which left third base vacant, courtesy runner Chad DeGruy took off for third. The throw was wide and DeGruy eventually scored to make it 2-0.

The rainstorm started in the fourth inning and Franklinton’s offense began to get rolling. The Demons cut the Spartans’ lead in half with a run in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Estave and Sanburn both reached on an error. Dominguez, who had two hits, drove in courtesy runner Miller with an RBI single. It was 2-1 after four innings.

Franklinton took the lead for good in the fifth. McKenzie was hit, Varnado reached on an infield single to short and J.J. Jackson walked to fill the bases. After an out, Verret, who posted two hits, tied the game with an RBI single.

“I knew I had runners on base. If they wouldn’t have gotten on base, I couldn’t have done it, but they had bases loaded and I just tried to put the ball in play and we got a run,” Verret said.

Estave was next with the bases still loaded and a chance to give the Demons the lead with the rain still coming down hard. Estave took a pitch the opposite way and split the right centerfield gap. Varnado scored, Jackson scored and Verret scored. Estave went into third with a headfirst slide after a three-run bases-clearing triple and the Demons were out in front, 5-2.

“I had to have an approach. The first two at bats weren’t too great,” Estave said. “I had to jump on his fastball before I got late into the count. I jumped on that outside pitch and had to relax and drive it the other way, be a leader and get those runs in for my team.”

After the triple, Sanburn was hit. Dominguez was next, but his at-bat was interrupted because of lightning. The game went into a delay, as buckets of rain fell onto Demon Diamond. Eventually, the skies cleared and plenty of people helped with the field to get it ready for play.

Tageant said he was thankful to everybody who helped get the field ready.

Once the game restarted, Dominguez’s at-bat continued with runners on the corners and the Demons up 5-2. Dominguez drove in another run by reaching on an infield single to make it 6-2.

Salmen responded with one run in the fifth. Talamo, who had two hits and scored twice, singled, and Lane doubled. After the first two outs, Suprean was hit and Morris drew a walk, plating Talamo, and it was a 6-3 game.

Talamo’s run finalized the scoring, as Verret was solid on the mound. He went the distance, allowing two earned runs on four hits with four strikeouts and a walk.

“We said, ‘yay, nay, we weren’t going to throw him (after the delay),’ and he said he wanted it,” Tageant said. “He wanted to finish it. We felt good about giving him a shot to let him go out. The thing with Wyatt is that he throws strikes.”

Verret said he relied on his defense to help him.

“I just threw the ball over the plate and let them hit it,” Verret said. “I’m not a strikeout pitcher. I can’t go up there throwing 80-plus. I don’t have a monster curveball or anything that breaks nasty. I just rely on my defense and let them play.”

Estave finished with two hits and three RBIs while Dominguez singled twice and drove in a run. Varnado singled and scored while Crain and Bell walked twice each.

No. 10 Franklinton advances to the quarterfinals and travels to play second-seeded St. Michael the Archangel. Game one of the best-of-three series is set for Friday at 4 p.m. The second game is Saturday at noon with the third game, if necessary, following game two.