Roth leashes the Bulldogs | News, Sports, Jobs

Staff photo / Joel Whetzel Austintown Fitch senior Joe Roth throws a pitch Thursday afternoon against Poland. Roth delivered a 5-0 win for the Falcons as he struck out 15 batters and hit a home run in the win.

AUSTINTOWN — Austintown Fitch’s Joe Roth is in midseason form.

Making his season debut Thursday against Poland Seminary, Roth piled up 15 strikeouts en route to a complete-game shutout over the Bulldogs, a 5-0 victory.

Roth allowed just four hits, surrendered one walk and only ran into any sort of trouble one time in his gem.

“He was throwing strikes,” Fitch coach Joe Paris said. “He likes to rush, so I have to stay on him all the time about taking his time, breathing in between pitches and those kinds of things. He does a great job. He’s a veteran, and we’ve been working together for a long time, so he did a great job.”

Indeed, of the 26 batters he faced, Roth started 21 with a first-pitch strike. Of his 95 pitches, 71 were strikes.

Roth was in control early, as he began the game by striking out the side and then fanned another pair in the second. He carried a perfect game into the fourth inning before Bryce Barringer broke it up by beating out an infield single.

The Bulldogs (1-1) made their only serious threat in the fifth, loading the bases with just one out. But Roth struck out another batter and then picked up a flyout to get out of the jam unscathed.

“That’s who he is,” Paris said of Roth’s poise. “He’s a pit bull on the mound. When he gets in trouble, that’s when he tightens up even better and hits a spot. He did a great job.”

After that threat, Roth retired six of his final seven batters faced, four of which went down on strikes.

The Fitch offends, meanwhile, sputtered early, stranding six runners through the first two innings as it took a 1-0 lead, before a three-run third inning pushed the Falcons (2-0) to a 4-0 advantage.

Leading the inning off, Mike Sciortino was hit by a pitch, and then Jack Knight singled. Then, catcher Donovan Bell-Sullivan launched a triple into center field to score them. He scored on a sacrifice grounder from Josh Loew one batter later.

Roth rounded out Fitch’s scoring in the fourth with a solo shot into center.

“Donovan is a sophomore, and he’s going to be our starting catcher every time Joe pitches,” Paris said of Bell-Sullivan. “Donovan is an athlete, and if he keeps swinging like that, he’s going to play every day. I’m going to find him a place, and I told him that. He did a great job.”

Poland starter Ryan Dilullo hung tough early, as he loaded the bases in both the first and second inning but gave up just one run. He finished with three innings of work and struck out a pair and walked four. He surrendered four earned runs on four hits.

Matt Paparodis came on in relief in the fourth and gave up just one run — Roth’s blast — and struck out four in the final three innings.

“(Dilullo) got out of some big situations, and his pitch count got up there, but we were only down 1-0 for a while. We’re a work in progress,” Poland coach Rich Murray said.

Of Paparodis, he added, “I thought he pitched real well, and his curveball was excellent. He worked down and threw strikes.”

And though Murray would like to see the Bulldog bats get rolling again — Poland scored 9 in its season-opening win over Hubbard before getting blanked Thursday — he was quick to credit Roth. Aiden Thompson managed a double for Poland, the squad’s only extra-base hit.

“They scored early, and we’re not going to come back against a pitcher like that,” he said, later adding, “I don’t know if you’re ever really going to get bats going against somebody like (Roth) that can throw like that. We’ll get better, we just have a lot of work to do.”

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