Berkshire managed just two hits but the Badgers made the most of them in a 2-1 win over visiting Cuyahoga Heights on Saturday.
The Badgers, who improved to 12-5 overall, scored one run in both the first and fourth innings and made some key plays down the stretch to hold on for the win.
“It’s always good when you can come out and play ugly and still come out on top with a ‘W,’” said Berkshire coach Nick Burzanko. “Scraping together a couple of hits and then making some good things happen in baserunning to get some runs across when your bats don’t wake up and then playing good defense behind your pitching staff, those are all good things to happen when you’re not exactly hitting the ball to all fields and don’t have a lot of baserunners to manage runs. It’s always nice to win ugly.”
Berkshire was fortunate to even get the game in after two days of rain.
“I’m really glad that we got to play today,” Burzanko said. “I had some really good help from the baseball dads. We were out there Friday night until about 8:30 trying to get that thing opened up and dried out a little bit to the point where we could be OK when it froze. It ended up being really, really nice.”
Cuyahoga Heights loaded the bases in the top of the first but Max Janssen worked his way out of that jam.
Janssen picked up the win after throwing five innings of scoreless baseball. He allowed five hits and struck out six.
“Max threw really, really well for the most part,” Burzanko said. “He struggled a little bit getting ahead of hitters and working down in counts, but his defense worked behind him.”
The Badgers then took a 1-0 lead in the bottom half of the inning when Jack Jacobs reached on an error and stole second. Brian Brent then hit a two-out single to put runners at the corners. Jacobs then made a heads-up play on Brent’s steal attempt to give the Badgers the early lead.
“Jack scored on the throw to second,” Burzanko said. “They threw it a little bit errant and he made a good read. He got a good jump and scored to put us up 1-0. After that, it was a pitcher’s duel the rest of the game.”
Cuyahoga Heights loaded the bases again in the second but Janssen and the Badgers worked their way out of it to maintain their one-run lead. A force out at the plate, a strikeout and a lineout kept the visitors off the scoreboard.
Berkshire added an insurance run in the fourth.
Jacob Brown doubled to lead off the inning and scored on a throwing error in his attempt to swipe third.
Cuyahoga Heights had runners on base in the first six innings but only managed one run, which came in the top of the sixth inning.
Nolan Borowy led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch. He scored on back-to-back groundouts.
J.T. Bergmeier fanned two of the three batters he faced in the seventh to earn the save for the Badgers.
“We had a couple of walks and a couple of misplayed balls, so they got a guy to third base and scored on a ground ball,” Burzanko said. “We surrendered a run in the sixth but J.T. came in and had a 1-2-3 inning to pick up the save.”
Brent allowed one run on one hit in one inning of work before Bergmeier closed out the win.
The Badgers return to conference play when they host rival Cardinal on Monday in the start of a two-game series.
Berkshire finds itself in a must-win situation to remain in the hunt for the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division title.
Kirtland is in first place with an 8-0 mark while Berkshire is 7-1. They’ll meet in a head-to-head series during the final week of the regular season.
“These are big games for us in the sense of if we want to be in a position to win the CVC this year and have the chance to go out and beat Kirtland twice,” Burzanko said. “It will be the deciding factor if we can get by Cardinal twice and give ourselves a chance to go knock off the champs that have been the champs for a while now.”