Mars scores 1st in-state win
Eagle Staff Writer
Written by:
April 7, 2014

ADAMS TWP — Nathan Furl’s approach was a simple one.

Don’t squander this opportunity.

With runners on second and third, two outs in a tie game in the bottom of the sixth inning and down deep in the count, Furl served a low fastball into left-field to drive in the go-ahead run in a 3-2 win for the Mars baseball team over Central Catholic at the Mars Athletic Complex Wednesday afternoon.

“I went up hacking and got behind in the count,” Furl said. “From then on, I was just looking to make contact and get a single and get in some runs.”

The win was a big one for the Planets, who had lost two straight tough games against Pine-Richland and Blackhawk after a 2-1 trip to South Carolina.

Furl made sure Mars (3-3) got its first win of the season in Pennsylvania.

“Nate had a great at-bat. He fouled a couple of pitches off and had some good swings,” said Mars coach Brian Hobaugh. “He had a big two-out hit and that’s something we hope to get out of these seniors this year.”

Mars also got strong performances by all three of its pitchers on the day.

Cameron Smith started for the Planets and went five-plus strong innings in a no-decision.

He also picked off two runners at first and nearly caught two others leaning.

“That’s one thing we do a whole lot of,” Hobaugh said. “We probably try more pickoffs than any team in America. But you know what, we’re probably as successful as any team in America. I bet we’ve picked off more guys in the last two or three years than any other team in the WPIAL. We work on that a lot.”

Brennan McKaveney relieved Smith after Central Catholic’s Luca Farina led off the sixth with a sharp single.

Farina came around to score to tie the game at 2-2. But the Mars’ run in the bottom of the frame gave McKaveney the win.

Zarek Simkovich struck out two and got out of a jam in the seventh to earn the save.

Simkovich, a sophomore right-hander, didn’t figure much into the pitching plans for Mars this season until a strong trip south changed Hobaugh’s thinking.

“He pitched well down south for us and he came in and pitched two innings for us against Pine-Richland,” Hobaugh said. “We’re giving kids some opportunities here before section play and both he and Cam have pitched really really well. Cam has been tremendous and Brennan came in and got the outs he needed to get, too.

“We have a lot of pitchers who are stepping up right now,” Hobaugh added. “I like what we’re doing right now. We’ve played some strong games.”

Austin Konieczka started for Central Catholic (2-1), but struggled, walking three and hitting a batter in the first inning as Mars was able to score two runs on just one hit, an RBI single by Josh Bartley.

Bartley had three singles on the day.