Redemption win: Brett Helton hits game-winner to lead Firelands Falcons past Buckeye Bucks

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Firelands catcher Tristan Clark, right, tags out Buckeye’s Nick Duliba at home plate in the second inning of Monday’s Patriot Athletic Conference matchup between the top two teams in the Stars Division.

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Buckeye’s Joe Bruening tags out Firelands’ Joe San Felippo in the third inning after San Felippo tried to stretch a double into a triple on Monday.

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Firelands’ Joe San Felippo drops a ground ball in the third inning against Buckeye on Monday.

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Buckeye's Alex Green drops a fly ball in the second inning against Firelands on Monday.

HENRIETTA TWP. — Last month, Buckeye’s Eli Kraus baffled Firelands’ hitters, throwing a one-hitter with 17 strikeouts in a 4-0 victory over the Falcons.

On Monday, Firelands got its revenge against the Kent State-recruit and his Bucks, overcoming an early deficit to claim a 7-6 Patriot Athletic Conference win.

The victory moves Firelands (12-10, 10-3) within a game of Buckeye in the PAC Stripes Division. The Falcons have three games remaining in league play while the Bucks (15-7, 9-2) have five to go.

Trailing 6-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Firelands began the inning with back-to-back hits to cut the deficit to one. Kraus came on for Kyle Friel (4-3) after the starter hit left fielder Jacob Abrahamowicz in the head with a pitch that put runners on second and first.

Kraus fanned the first two batters he faced, but then threw a wild pitch with Brett Helton in the batter’s box, sending runners to second and third. Helton capitalized on the scoring opportunity on a 2-0 count, dropping a Texas leaguer in no man’s land in shallow right field to give the Falcons a 7-6 advantage.

“I was expecting a fastball and he gave me a decent one in the zone so I just swung after it,” Helton said. “Luckily it blooped down in there.”

Helton, who relieved starter Kevin Rollins at the beginning of the fourth, loaded the bases with one out in the top of the seventh, giving Buckeye an opportunity to recapture the lead. He coaxed center fielder Jeff Susalla into a groundball to short, however, allowing two-time All-Ohio honoree Joe San Felippo to begin a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.

“I was getting pretty nervous out there, but I trust my defense to make plays for me,” Helton said. “So I threw it over the plate for them to take care of it.”

Picking up the win for Firelands, Helton (4-2) pitched four innings, giving up a run and on two hits and striking out a pair. Including his game-determining double, He went 2-for-4 at the plate, with two RBIs and three runs.

The Bucks grabbed an lead early, with Rollins hitting leadoff batsmen Vinnie Galizio, who moved to second when Robbie Nonamker grounded into a fielder’s choice. Galizio plated the game’s first run the next at bat on an RBI single by catcher Scott Cloudy.

Three errors in the top of the second aided the Bucks in adding four more runs, giving them a 5-0 lead.

Firelands chipped away at the deficit in the bottom half of the inning as Abrahamowicz and Rollins knocked back-to-back singles and San Felippo drove both home with a double.

“Joe is our team leader, he gets us going emotionally so I have to give him a lot of credit,” Helton said.

Helton began the third inning with a knock over the head of Nonamaker at second base and scored on a double to the right-center gap off the bat of Cole Sklarek, who snuck home later in the inning after getting caught in a rundown down the third-base line. That made it, 5-4.

Buckeye’s lone run off Helton came in the sixth, set up by a triple by third baseman Joe Bruening. Nico Galizio drove Bruening home, but the Bucks were unable to overcome the Falcons’ three-run sixth inning.

Firelands 7, Buckeye 6

Patriot Athletic Conference

Stars Division

Buckeye (13-7, 9-2) 140 001 0 — 6 8 2

Firelands (12-10, 10-3) 022 003 0 — 7 10 4

TWO HITS OR MORE — Buckeye: Tyler Underwood, Firelands: Brett Helton; 2B — F: Clark, Johnson, Schramm, Helton; 3B — B: Bruening; WP — Helton (4-2); LP — Kyle Friel (4-3).

@MJNatePentecost

Last Updated: 5/6/2013 10:57:21 PM EST

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