The Titusville baseball team ordered new jerseys a little while ago. Pretty nice ones, too: brown up top, horizontal white and yellow stripes across the midsection, players names across the back shoulders.
The jerseys were delivered just recently and they were unboxed for Friday’s home game against North East.
With the new threads on, the team showed their true colors.
The Rockets were clicking at the plate, in the field and on the mound while defeating the visiting Grapepickers during a Region 4 game at Art Pearson Field.
“It was a little pick-me-up, the new uniforms,” said Titusville head coach Roy Schweitzer. “They got the names on the back. And who doesn’t want to shine with their name on their back. And they did. Every one of them did great today.”
It was also a nice bit of redemption for the Rockets. The last time they faced the ’Pickers it ended in an error-filled 7-0 loss.
“Felt pretty good. It was a good win to get on our senior night,” said Hunter Titus, who was recognized after the game along with fellow 12th graders Michael Canter, Derek Beach and Mike Obert.
“The last time we played this team was a really bad game,” he continued. We just picked it up tonight, hit the ball really well, scored runs, and looked pretty good in the field.
“I know we can play better than we have been this year. I think tonight showed us that we can all hit the ball, we can field the ball well, that we can play together as a team well.”
The Rockets can also pitch. Kolin Baker got the start and was terrific through five innings.
He gave up one unearned run on three hits, walked two and struck out seven.
“He did great tonight,” Titus said about Baker. “That was one of the best games I’ve seen him pitch. He was mixing things up, throwing perfect.”
And Baker didn’t have to wait long for some run support.
In the first inning, with Knapp aboard on a North East error, Titus drove him in with a hard-hit double to deep center.
The Rockets then made it 3-0 with two more runs in the third. Knapp walked. Titus — who would finish the game 2-for-4 — singled. Mike Obert plated Knapp with a double to the gap in left-center. And Tyler Durstine scored Titus with a single to right.
The Rockets added another run in the fourth when Ashton Burleigh beat out an infield single to short. And with two outs, Knapp charged one into the right field corner for an RBI triple.
Meanwhile, North East couldn’t get much going offensively.
Baker worked through the first three innings in order, more or less. Tyler Wittman did get a single in the second inning. But Obert cleared the bases and ended the inning by gunning out Wittman as he tried to steal second base.
Obert would later catch North East’s Anthony Rizzo trying to steal second base to end the fourth inning.
“Michael’s a senior, he’s one of our leaders,” said Schweitzer. “He’s been solid all year. And Kolin kept (Obert) short with his stride to home and kept him close enough that he could make good throws down. They did their jobs. It was great to see.”
The Grapepickers got their lone run in the fifth inning. David Gibson reached on Titusville’s sole error of the game. Then Drew Aspden hit him it with a two-out single.
The ‘Pickers tried to get more in the frame, getting a runner to third. But Titusville got out of it thanks to another nice play by Obert. Baker got North East’s Aden Bulger to strike out swinging. But the ball got away from Obert and started rolling toward the ’Pickers’ dugout. Bulger took off for first. Owen Kemp charged home from third. But Obert managed to get out of his crouch and track the ball the down, and wmade the throw to Canter at first just in time to end the inning.
“We came out flat, just like (Titusville) did when they came up to us,” said North East head coach Jordan Fargiorgio, whose team slipped to 6-8 overall, 5-7 in Region 4.
“I don’t know if it’s the travel or what. But (Titusville) just played well. They played good defense, they pitched well, the put the ball in play. They did everything they had to do.”
Titusville went on to added three more runs with two outs in the fifth inning. Kasen Neely rolled one up the third base line for a single. Canter went the same way for an RBI double. Brock Covell singled to left to drive in a second run. And Burleigh, who was 2-for-3 on the day, doubled in the third.
“We performed well,” said Schweitzer. “I can’t say enough about how well the whole team played overall. It all came around. And this is what we’re capable of. It’s not just today. Every game we should be playing this way.”
Now 6-8 on the year, 5-7 in Region 4, the Rockets have a few more opportunities to keep things rolling before the regular season comes to an end. They’re at Franklin on Monday, they host Seneca on Wednesday and then have a non-region contest scheduled against Oil City Friday at Art Pearson.