Playing small ball has produced big results for the Mill Run baseball team in the Fayette County League.
In recent weeks, Mill Run has used a variety of bunts to serve as catalysts to big innings, which has helped the team win six consecutive and nine of its last 10.
The latest victory came Tuesday night, as a bunt attempt propelled Mill Run to a four-run inning and, ultimately, a 4-2 win over visiting California.
“It was one inning again for us,” Mill Run coach Ray Orndorff said. “The bunt got it started, and that has been very effective for us in the last three games.”
Mill Run (11-3) executed several key bunts in recent wins over Carmichaels and Bud Murphy’s, and it did again last night.
Mill Run’s Tom Cesario and California’s Rich Riponi each surrendered just one hit through the first four innings. But Mill Run was finally able to break the scoreless tie in the fifth.
After Ryan Firestone singled to lead off, Jeff Kooser was called upon to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Kooser executed, but Riponi opted to try for the lead runner, who was heading to second. However, his throw sailed into center field, opening the door for Mill Run.
“We had decent pitching,” California coach Ryan Encapera said. “Rich came out and threw well. But the turning point was on Kooser’s bunt, and we tried to get the out at second.”
Instead of an out, Mill Run had two runners on with no outs.
After Chad Shroyer was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Josh Coffman came through with a clutch two-run single. An error allowed another run to cross the plate before Bob Fulton drove in Coffman with a single to make the score 4-0.
Mill Run managed just six hits, but four of them came in the fifth.
California (7-5) tried to rally, as Justin Deutsch singled and scored on a two-run homer by Andy Galis in the sixth inning. But California would get no closer.
“We just have to come through and get clutch hits,” Encapera said. “We didn’t get enough guys on base. Andy came through with the home run, but that was it.”
Cesario exited the game in the sixth, but Kooser came on in relief and was able to preserve the victory by getting the final five outs for the save. Cesario and Kooser combined on a five-hitter.
“Tom threw a great game, and Kooser did a nice job in relief,” Orndorff said.
California has little time to rest. The Tribe will play their third game in three days, when they play host to Bud Murphy’s tonight.
Mill Run is off until Friday, when it will put its winning streak on the line at Blaney Farms.