The most important aspect of any postseason game is scoring more runs than the opposing team but Berkshire coach Steve Smetana knows his team can play better than it did during it's 8-2 win over Grand Valley on Thursday and it has to if the Badgers hope to make a deep run in the Division III playoffs.
Wit the win, the Badgers advanced to Monday's sectional championship game at top-seeded Pymatuning Valley.
“That’s what it is for us,” Smetana said. “Looking back at the game we could swing the bats better and we could have made better contact. We had some situations where we didn’t get a run and we’re still trying to work on some situations, but if we can score eight runs a game I’d feel pretty good about that.”
Berkshire, which improved to 14-9 overall, jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Connor Dudinsky singled, stole second and scored on Jarett Smetana’s single. Gordy Cossick then walked and Smetana reached on Sam Fisher’s fielder’s choice. Fisher stole second and scored on the first of Miles Chapman’s four hits.
Chapman finished the game 4-for-4 with three runs batted in.
“He’s capable of that kind of performance if his swing is going right,” Coach Smetana said. “He has got a strong swing going to right field and that’s what we’re missing in our lineup; we’ve got all righties and he’s a lefty. I slot him there to move guys over and drive in some runs and he was able to do that. I’m happy for him and overall for the club to get the win.”
The Badgers added two more in the third when Cossick reached on a fielder’s choice and Fisher and Chapman hit back-to-back singles.
That was all the Badgers would need as Smetana struck out nine in four shutout innings. Will Blechschmid allowed two unearned runs in two innings of work and Cossick shut down the Mustangs in the seventh.
“I wanted to keep Jarett’s pitch count down,” Coach Smetana said. “I thought Blechschmid and Gordy could throw some innings and they would do very well. I was looking at if we had a lead, my magic number was five runs, if we had that I would feel comfortable. Jarett got into one jam, bases loaded, but he got out of that.”
Grand Valley had back-to-back two-out singles and a walk to load the bases in the fourth but Smetana recorded his third strike out of the inning to keep the score at 5-0.
The Mustangs pulled to within 5-2 with a pair of unearned runs on one hit in the fifth but the Badgers responded with three in the bottom half of the frame to close out the scoring.
Chapman hit a one-out double and moved to third on back-to-back walks to Blechschmid and Quentin Schultz. Luke Byler hit an RBI single and Dudinsky grounded out to make it 7-2. Aaron Pawlak then singled home Schultz to make it 8-2.
Byler, Berkshire’s No. 9 hitter, finished the game 2-for-3 with the RBI.
“Luke’s been doing it all year,” Smetana said. “He’s just a good story for when you’re coming into your senior year and you’re hoping guys do well. It’s good to see a good kid come out and swing the bat better than he ever has in his final year.”
Dudinsky, Pawlak, Smetana, Fisher and Blechschmid all had one hit and Dudinsky stole a pair of bases, walked and was hit by a pitch.
“Connor has been our leadoff guy for three years,” Smetana said. “Being his senior year it’s good he has the sense of urgency and focus to put together a solid game. Hopefully all my seniors do that going forward.”
Berkshire defeated Pymatuning Valley, 19-0, back on March 31.