As Brooke (W.Va.) High School starting pitcher Mario Lombardi faced the first two hitters of the game, Canon-McMillan junior right fielder Jared Beach kept a close eye on the left-hander’s tendencies, looking for anything to give him an advantage.
He found something.
Beach went 3-for-3 with two triples and four runs batted in to lead the Big Macs to a 9-5 non-section win in the second game of the Consol Energy Classic.
Beach has built on his success of last season, driving the ball the other way and being a key contributor as the No. 3 hitter in Canon-McMillan’s lineup.
“It helps when you can study the pitcher and see what he’s throwing out there,” Beach said. “I’ve been trying to drive the ball the opposite way. It was great to have a nice day like that, even if it was a non-section game.”
Canon-McMillan (5-1) started strong when Chandler Palyas drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first and senior Teagan Piechnick followed with a single to right field. After watching the two at-bats, Beach hit a deep fly ball over the right fielder’s head for a triple, driving in two runs to spot the Big Macs an early 2-0 lead.
Beach then scored on a passed ball before Lombardi ended the inning. Piechnick also had a big day. The center fielder went 3-for-3 with a single, double and a two-run home run in the fifth inning to help Canon-McMillan pull away.
“When those two are hitting, it’s big,” Big Macs head coach Frank Zebrasky said. “We are expecting big things from them, and (Palyas) is doing well at the top of the order. We’ll need that to keep happening.”
Canon-McMillan scored at least one run in each of the first three innings with all four of Beach’s RBI coming during that span. Despite stranding 10 runners on base against the Bruins (2-1), some timely hitting with runners in scoring position kept the Big Macs in the lead.
It was a big day for the Big Macs, who field a pitching staff that does not have an ace. Canon-McMillan is using several different pitchers and two of those complimented the Big Macs’ offense against Brooke. Junior Jake Trainor and sophomore Matt Mish combined for six innings and eight strikeouts, allowing just one earned run.
“Our offense is going to be big for us this year,” Piechnick said. “Our pitchers played well today, and they have been so far this season. We need to have their backs, and the only way to win baseball games is to get runs. We have to keep it rolling.”
Brooke drew to within four runs in the top of the fourth with an RBI double by Fargo Camerlengo, who scored on an error.
Piechnick put an end to Brooke’s comeback when he hit a two-run homer over the left-field fence to give the Big Macs a 9-4 lead they would not surrender.
“I’m just feeling more comfortable out there,” Piechnick said. “I put in a lot of work in the offseason with my timing and getting my form down. Every win helps, no matter who you play. It’s great to see the guys get fired up after that one.”