Falcons' Moore wins pitcher's duel

By David Carducci Record-Courier staff writer Published:

MANTUA _ Who says pitching is a dying art among today's young baseball players?

If Monday afternoon's Portage County League opener is any indication, the art of pitching is alive and well in Field and Crestwood.

Field's Justin Moore and Crestwood's Greg Wiggers hooked up in a classic pitcher's dual worthy of being mentioned among the great performances in the league's history, with Moore's Falcons edging the Red Devils 1-0 in Mantua.

"The pitching by both players was as good as I've seen in a long time," said Crestwood coach Bob Merritt. "They were clocking both players in the 80s. There has been nobody I've seen close to as good as Greg and Justin ... It was a matter of knowing that someone was going to get their heart broken in this game, and it was hard to believe that a base hit in the first inning was going to determine the ballgame because, at the time, there was still so much of the game left."

That base hit was delivered by Field centerfielder Josh Hunter with two outs in the top of the first, scoring Jason Stein, who had walked and stolen second base, for the game's only run.

From there, Wiggers and Moore went to work.

After allowing two hits and a walk in the first inning, Wiggers was masterful the rest of the way, striking out 13 Falcons and allowing just one hit and three total baserunners in the last 6 1/3 innings.

In a typical Crestwood game, that type of performance on the mound would be more than enough to secure a win.

The Red Devils (5-2, 0-1 PCL) had averaged double figures in runs and hits in their first six games of the year.

But those bats were silenced by Moore, who dominated the Red Devils by setting up his 80-plus mile-per-hour fastball with pinpoint accuracy on his curveball, change and knuckler.

"Justin had great control," said Field coach Larry Wiles. "He has really rounded into shape in the last two outings."

Against Coventry last week, Moore didn't allow an earned run in five innings to lead Field (6-2, 1-0) to a victory.

As strong as that performance may have been, it paled in comparison to Monday when he matched Wiggers with 13 strikeouts of his own, allowed just four base hits and didn't walk a batter in pitching a complete-game shutout.

"This was definitely his strongest game of the year," said Wiles. "Wiggers was outstanding also. I think this was as good a pitching game, both ways, as I've seen."

Crestwood only had two opportunities to score all afternoon.

In the second inning, Red Devils shortstop Josh Hunter hit a double down the left-field line with two out, but Moore slammed the door with a strikeout to end the inning.

With one out in the sixth, Crestwood centerfielder Wally Froelich roped a triple into the gap in left-centerfield, but again the Red Devils couldn't bring in the run, failing on a squeeze attempt before Moore struck out the last two batters to end the inning.

"Justin has really matured as a pitcher this year," said Wiles. "In the past, giving up (the triple to Froelich) would have really bothered him. But he showed a lot of maturity to come back and get (the strikeouts)."

The two sixth-inning strikeouts were the first of five straight recorded by the Field senior, as he finished the game by striking out the side in the seventh.

"This was a tough loss, but we have a lot of pitching depth, so I think we'll be all right," said Merritt. "Right now we'll have to follow Field, but we don't meet again because of the scheduling until the end of the season, so that will make for a big game at the end of the year down in Brimfield. But I still think we are OK because there's a lot of season left."

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