For Mogadore, which already had secured a spot

By Eric Clutter Record-Courier staff writer Published:

For Mogadore, which already had secured a spot in next Monday's PCL title game, having won the National Division, it was a chance to right a ship that had hit stormy waters of late.

For Garfield, it was the first of two opportunities to claim the American Division crown and host Mogadore in the championship contest.

So the two teams took to the field and slugged it out for most of the afternoon, before a Bill Pickering sixth-inning sacrifice fly broke a 7-7 deadlock and gave the Wildcats an 8-7 victory.

Now the G-Men, who slipped to 11-6 overall and 9-3 in American Division play, have to travel to Field today and beat the Falcons to clinch first place. A loss would vault Southeast, providing the Pirates win their final game, into the title contest.

"We have to win (today) and we play for the championship against Mogadore," said Garfield coach Mike Dobran. "(Today) is the big game. We're excited to be in a great situation.

"Tonight the guys played hard. They did everything we asked them. They just didn't come out on top. That's part of baseball. The great thing is we have an opportunity to come out (today) and get a victory. Hopefully, we'll get a win and get an opportunity to play them again."

Mogadore (18-5, 11-2 PCL) scored seven runs in the first two innings off Garfield starter Aaron Snyder to take a 7-3 lead.

With two outs in the second, Dobran went to his bullpen and brought in Eric Etling. Etling pitched the rest of the way and surrendered only three hits and Pickering's sacrifice fly to center that scored Mike Shull. Shull had started the inning with a walk and advanced to third on a Johnny Josef double.

"We were fortunate today to beat them," said Mogadore coach John Cravens, whose team has lost five of its last nine games. "We haven't been playing the best and today we made errors on top of errors. But we hit the ball enough and got around the bases enough."

With Etling holding Mogadore at bay, the G-Men were able to get back in the game.

A Jamie Ward fly ball in the fourth cut the Garfield deficit to 7-4.

One inning later, Wes Austrup drove a Shull pitch over the left-field fence for a three-run homer, tying the game at 7-7 and forcing Cravens to go to his pen in favor of Ben Lee.

Lee, a left-hander, quieted the Garfield bats and got some nice defense behind him, despite the fact that the Wildcats committed four errors in the game.

Mogadore centerfielder Tim Mosher made a diving catch in the sixth with a runner on first and only one out. Then, with the tying run on third and two outs in the seventh, Wildcats third baseman Jon Raddish made a nice scoop-and-throw to just nip Rob Penney at first to end the game.

"It was a real good ballgame," said Cravens. "It makes us 18-5 and 11-2, which I think is a nice effort this year, coming back from a season where we weren't very good a year ago. I'm pleased."

Austrup spearheaded the G-Men attack with two hits and three runs batted in. Penney added two hits and two RBI; David Pixley, Adam Andrikanich and Snyder had two hits apiece; while Ward had a single and two RBI.

Mosher, Shull, Lee and Matt Walk each collected two hits for the Wildcats. Walk provided the big blow, a bases-clearing double in the first that gave Mogadore a 4-1 lead after one.

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