Potters win on a day not for Meek of heart

EAST PALESTINE – Battling rain and unseasonably chilly temperatures, East Palestine hoped to warm themselves up by running the base paths and scoring runs.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they were left out in the cold.

Briar Meek didn’t let East Palestine’s bats heat up as he led East Liverpool to a 6-2 victory in a complete game effort on a frigid Thursday evening. Meek, a freshman, allowed just two runs on seven hits and three walks for the game.

“He’s still a young kid,” East Liverpool coach Bill Bailey said. “It’s more of a thing with pitch location than anything. If he can hit his pitches on these kids, he’s tough.”

East Palestine failed to adapt to Meek’s pitches, as their only potential offensive threat came in the second inning. The Bulldogs tallyed four hits in the second, scoring two. Meek would only allow five hits for the rest of the game.

Despite the dominance, Meek didn’t use anything fancy to halt East Palestine’s bats.

“I don’t really throw a lot of junk,” Meek said. “Most of the time I’m just trying to get ahead in the counts and see if they swing and make contact. Everything I was throwing today was just fastballs.”

“He has a knuckleball,” Bailey said. “But he didn’t use it too much today. It’s just too tough to throw that kind of junk in these conditions.”

Meek also benefitted from a stellar defensive effort behind him from the Potters (4-11). East Liverpool made several crucial plays to preserve their lead, including center fielder Tyler Recktenwald throwing out East Palestine’s Justin Fristik at home to keep the potential tying run off the scoreboard.

“We’ve struggled with errors,” said Bailey, “but we only made one today. That’s huge. We spent our entire practice last night just on fielding, catching, making the right plays. We finally did it today, and it made the difference.”

Recktenwald pulled another double play in the third inning when, after catching a fly ball, he threw to second base to beat East Palestine’s Alec Dumbauld to the bag. Left fielder Parker Bowers also made an impressive defensive play, throwing out Hayden Moore as he tried to advance from first to third on a single.

East Palestine (5-9), in comparison, struggled at times in the field. The Bulldogs commited four errors for the game, with multiple Potters scoring in each inning an error was committed.

“This wasn’t typical of our team,” East Palestine coach Adam Fill said. “We made more errors than usual tonight. Sometimes you just have these kind of days. The field was cold and slick, but that’s obviously not an excuse; East Liverpool had to play on the same field.

“The baserunning weren’t really miscues as much as it was us trying to capitalize on plays. We were trying to stretch and get some guys an extra base. They were my decisions, not the players’. It just didn’t go our way.”

East Palestine grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second when the Bulldogs smacked four consecutive hits. Tyler Visnick scored when Sam Yarosz knocked a double to the deepest parts of East Palestine Park’s outfield. Yarosz scored on a RBI single by Moore.

East Liverpool gained the lead in the half inning immediately after. Jay Lane, Recktenwald, and Meek hit consecutive singles to score three runs for the Potters. East Liverpool extended their lead in the fifth inning, when Hunter Maze smacked an RBI single and scored shortly after on an East Palestine error.

The Potters were led by Lane, Recktenwald and Maze, with two singles apiece. Meek, Austyn Dozier, and Austin Alvarez each added a single.

Dumbauld and Ricky Telischak led East Palestine with a pair of singles each. Fristik added a triple for the Bulldogs.

East Liverpool will host St. Clairsville on Monday. East Palestine will play host to Lisbon today.