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Harding clobbers Kennedy

WARREN — The gorgeous weather must mean it’s time for some baseball. The Warren G. Harding Raiders and John F. Kennedy Eagles took advantage of the summer-like conditions as they tangled on the diamond Wednesday.

Harding senior Elijah Taylor befuddled the Eagles. Taylor tossed a complete game with six strikeouts. His shutout attempt was spoiled with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, and the Raiders walked away with a 14-1 victory.

“He’s (Taylor) a heck of an athlete,” Raiders coach Andrew Burnett said. “He’s the quarterback of the football team. You can’t ask for a better kid to lead the program. He’s showing the younger guys what to do.”

Taylor did that by not only silencing the JFK bats, but by hammering the ball when he was at the plate. He had three hits, four RBIs and his sacrifice fly to the warning track in center put the Raiders up 8-0 in the top of the third inning.

Things quieted down on the scoreboard for Harding after JFK senior Cam Hollobaugh toed the rubber on the pitching mound. Hollobaugh started the game at shortstop and moved over to third base before tossing a 1-2-3 top of the fifth. He struck out the first batter, took care of a comebacker to the mound, and fanned the third hitter, making quick work of the side.

“Cam is our only senior,” first-year JFK coach Jim Ciambotti said. “We’re a very young team. We’re playing a lot of freshmen and sophomores. We feel our strength is going to be our pitching and our defense.”

Alex DeSalvo, Gavin Shrum and Michael Mauro were all freshmen in 2019, but they return with some experience for the Eagles after the 2020 season was canceled.

Harding has a little more veteran leadership with four seniors on the roster.

“They all contribute,” Burnett said. “Taylor and Brett Brown are our only returning letter winners. We still had a good turnout this year. It’s a fun group to be around.”

The Raiders (2-3) impressed Ciambotti and the Eagles (3-2) but he wants his players to turn the page.

“Harding swung the bats very well,” Ciambotti said. “They deserved this. They were the better ball club today. We’ve got to put this out of our heads and get ready for Howland on Friday.”

First, the Raiders put a few more runs on the board. Senior Brett Brown nearly smacked it over the centerfield wall in the top of the seventh. Brown drove in Taylor with the blast, and it was 11-0. Brown came around to score on a throwing error. The Raiders kept swinging for the fences as they put up six runs in the inning.

Taylor, a southpaw, continued mowing down JFK batters until freshman Quinn Meola got the Eagles on the board by driving in Caleb Hadley.

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