COLUMBIANA-The Heartland baseball team is light on power hitters, so it needs to rely on aggressive baserunning in order to manufacture runs.
Thus, when Wellsville starting pitcher Devon Smith began giving away his pickoff move, the Lions were all to happy to take advantage.
Heartland stole seven bases and was frequently proactive at moving runners on its way to a 7-0 win over the Tigers Friday at the Columbiana youth baseball complex.
Heartland improves to 6-2 on the year. Wellsville drops to 1-9.
"If their pitcher (Smith) looked over at first base once, he always went to the plate after that," Heartland centerfielder Nate Montgomery said. "As soon as we picked that up, everybody was off."
"Devon got into a rhythm for a while of going to the same move every time and it made a big difference for them (Heartland)," Wellsville coach Dave Miller said. "They ran every chance they got."
Montgomery had two singles, two steals and two runs scored, Andy Sodergren had a single and three steals and Phil Bell had an RBI single as the Lions ran early and often and were never seriously threatened.
"We have a lot of line drive hitters and we need to steal bases and stretch singles into doubles to score a lot of runs," Montgomery said. "We really emphasize taking extra bases."
The Lions took control with three runs in the third inning to take a 5-0 lead. Montgomery led off with a single, stole second and came home when Andy Sodergren reached on a fielding error. Sodergren stole two bases and scored on a wild pitch, while Joel Sirota reached on a walk, took second on a fielders choice and raced all the way from second to home on a throwing error by Smith.
"We were trying to force the issue on the basepaths, that's our game" Heartland coach Shaun Sommers said. "Everytime they (Wellsville) bobbled a ball we were pushing to try and take an extra base."
Heartland was helped by five Wellsville errors. All three of the third inning runs were unearned.
"We are not making the routine plays right now," Miller said. "That has been the story of our season. It's hard to win when you give a team four or five extra outs per game
From there it was smooth sailing for the Lions. Starting pitcher Joel Sirota (2-0) admittedly didn't have his best stuff but pitched six shutout innings, striking out four and walking one. Wellsville's biggest threat came in the fifth when the Tigers put runners at second and third with one out, but Anthony Petrelli lined out to left and the runner at second base was doubled off, putting a quick end to things.
"I didn't feel as good as I have at other times, but I worked through it and my defense helped me out a lot," Sirota said.
"Good starting pitching is the other part of the equation for us," Sommers said. "We've been able to win this year in part because our starting pitching has been solid like it was tonight," Sommers said.
Wellsville is at Beaver Local for a doubleheader today. Heartland hosts Badger on Tuesday.
Wellsville third baseman Nick Bayer left the game in the first inning with a concussion. He collided with Heartland's Phil Bell on a steal attempt at third base.
"Nick went to the emergency room and got looked at and he will be tested again tomorrow," Miller said. "We will take it day-to-day.
The game-which was not a makeup-was one of few played in the area on Good Friday.
"Our kids go on a mission trip during the last week of April so we have to fill most of the dates early and late in the season to complete a schedule," Sommers said.
H-Joel Sirota, wp, (6IP, 4K, 1BB), Nate Montgomery (1IP, 2K, 1BB) and Nathan Sommers.
W-Devon Smith, lp, (4IP, 1K, 2BB), Nick Huff (2IP, 1K, 0BB) and Nick Huff/Frankie Jackson.