CURWENSVILLE — Zach Witherow had his curveball dancing Wednesday evening at Sherman Fields.
The Croatian Club righty struck out 13 Champions Choice batters and added two hits and two runs on offense to lead his team to a 16-2 victory in a CCYBL game shortened to five innings due to the 10-run rule.
Witherow allowed just three singles and walked one batter in his 68-pitch performance, which he put an exclamation point on with an immaculate 1-2-3 fifth inning to end it.
After Shane Sunderlin’s RBI single for Champions Choice in the bottom of the third, Witherow retired the final seven batters he faced, six by strikeout and one a soft liner back at him.
The Croatian Club offense produced 11 hits and got helped along by five errors.
Tanner Kephart and Michael Kitko provided much of the offense with three hits apiece. Kephart had a double and a triple and four RBIs, while Kitko clubbed two doubles and scored two runs.
The visitors put four on the board in the top of the first. Kephart led off with a double, stole third and scored when the catcher’s throw went into left field. The Croatian Club was very aggressive on the base paths all game long, stealing seven, including home (by Ethan Webb) in the fourth.
Mason Phillips was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to knock in a run, Zach Reifer drew a bases-loaded walk to force home another and Tyler Lobb picked up an RBI groundout to make it 4-0.
Champions Choice got a run back in the bottom of the frame when Grant Swanson reached on an error, moved to second on Sunderlin’s one-out walk and scored thanks to a Hunter Tkakic base hit.
After Witherow and Champions Choice relief pitcher Tyler Libby enjoyed scoreless second frames, the hosts cut their deficit to 4-2 with Sunderlin’s RBI single in the third. Shane Haney, who reached on an infield single and moved to second on a wild pitch, scored on the hit.
The Croatian Club put some distance between the teams on the scoreboard with a five-run fourth, keyed by Kephart’s two-run triple and a run-scoring single from Witherow. A pair of Champions Choice errors led to two more runs.
All five runs scored with two outs.
The visitors continued with the two-out lightning in the fifth, scoring seven times with two outs. Twelve of Croatian Club’s 16 runs came with two outs.
Kephart had a 2-run single, Webb had a run-scoring base hit, Kitko connected on an RBI double and Christian Nelson knocked in two with a single. The other Cro Club run scored on an error, one of two in the inning.
None of the runs in the inning were earned.
Libby tossed 4 2/3 innings of relief and was victimized by the errors. He gave up 12 runs (on nine hits), but only three were earned. Libby walked four batters and struck out six.
Cro Club improved to 4-1 in the CCYBL, while Champions Choice slipped to 4-2.
Both teams are back in action Monday. Croatian Club hosts Allport, while Champions Choice and Curwensville Moose battle at Sherman Fields.
Kephart 2b 4334, Witherow p 4221, Webb c 3311, Kitko ss 3231, Nelson 1b 3112, Phillips rf 3001, Reifer eh 1201, Lobb 3b 1001, Evans 3b 1000, Hummel lf 1100, Gregg lf 0100, Delattre cf 3110. Totals: 27-16-11-12.
Swanson 2b-eh 2100, Radzieta rf 0000, Haney cf 2110, Sunderlin p-lf-3b 1011, Rowles ss 2000, Tkacik c 2011, A. Sutika 3b-eh 2000, Libby lf-p 2000, Mi. Sutika rf 1000, Me. Sutika rf-lf 1000, Smith 1b 2000, Fleming eh-2b 2000. Totals: 19-2-3-2.
Score by Innings
Croatian Club 400 57—16 11 1
Champ. Choice 101 00— 2 3 5
Errors—Witherow; Tkakic, Libby, Rowles 2, Fleming. LOB—Croatian Club 5, Champions Choice 3. 3B—Kephart, 2B—Kephart, Kitko 2. SB—Kephart, Kitko 2, Reifer, Hummel, Witherow, Webb; Tkacik. HBP—Nelson (by Sunderlin), Phillips (by Sunderlin), Gregg (by Libby), SAC—Lobb.
Croatian Club: Witherow—5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 SO.
Champions Choice: Sunderlin—1/3 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO; Libby—4 2/3 IP, 9 H, 12 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO.