SAINT IGNATIUS' VARSITY BASEBALL RECAP
POSTED ON 5/25/11 AT 9:57 P.M.
RAIN, WIND AND LIGHTNING WIPE OUT THE WILDCATS' SEASON FINALE AT PROGRESSIVE FIELD.
JUST A FEW MORE WORDS OF THANKS AND A BRIEF RECAP OF THE FIRST NIGHT AT THE AMHERST TRACK AND FIELD REGIONAL.
By Eddie Dwyer
In a spring that was dominated by momentum-halting rainouts, Mother Nature took another mighty cut in Progressive Field on Wednesday night and put the final cancellation mark on Saint Ignatius' 2011 baseball season.
After they taped, stretched and went through batting practice in the cages of the lower concourse of Progressive Field, the Wildcats took the field and were greeted by the dark and ominous sky that hovered over the bleacher area.
Just seconds after Saint Ignatius posed for a team picture, the temperature began to drop rapidly, the wind picked up and, in what was a wise call, officials for the Cleveland Indians High School Hardball Classic put a halt to the game before the 'Cats and their opponents from Brunswick High School had a chance to make a pitch or take a swing at Carnegie and Ontario.
About 15 minutes later, the Wildcats scampered to their bus through a heavy downpour.
As strange as it may sound, there was something almost fitting to the way Saint Ignatius departed Progressive Field. After all, Mother Nature kept Coach Brad Ganor's team on its toes and heels all season.
Upon returning to school, Coach Ganor addressed his team and announced that the 2011 season had officially come to an end. The 'Cats bowed out at 11-9 after advancing to the Division I district finals.
In closing, this corner would like to again express my thanks to the parents of the players who made up the 2011 Saint Ignatius varsity baseball team, the players themselves and Coach Ganor for the wonderful cookout that took place before Wednesday night's game in the court-yard area near Wasmer Field.
Coach Ganor emphasized that it was a way for his team and the parents to say thank you for my coverage of the Wildcats. Well, I can only say that it was my PLEASURE and my PRIVILEGE to be associated with such an outstanding group of young men.
They say character building is done at home. And to the parents of the 2011 Baseball 'Cats, this old-timer says thank you for the wonderful job you have done.
- God Bless, Eddie.
AND THEN THERE WAS ONE. WE HOPE
TODAY'S VARSITY BASEBALL GAME VERSUS BENEDICTINE AT CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY HAS BEEN CANCELED BECAUSE OF RAIN.
MOTHER NATURE PERMITTING, THE WILDCATS WILL WRAP UP THEIR 2011 SEASON ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT 7 AGAINST THE BRUNSWICK BLUE DEVILS IN PROGRESSIVE FIELD.
SAINT IGNATIUS VERSUS MIDPARK DISTRICT FINAL BASEBALL RECAP.
POSTED ON 5/21/11.
THE WILDCATS ARE UNABLE TO CLAW BACK FROM A TOUGH START, AS MIDPARK TURNS AWAY SAINT IGNATIUS, 5-3, IN A DIVISION I DISTRICT FINAL AT BEREA ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON.
CORY FINKLER KEEPS THE 'CATS IN IT WITH AN OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE IN RELIEF AND A TWO-RUN BLAST.
By Eddie Dwyer
Copyright, May 2011
Like his players, Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor found it difficult to hide his disappointment on Saturday afternoon.
But the veteran skipper was able to look at the bigger picture and what makes it so rewarding to be associated with the student athletes at the Jesuit Preparatory School on Cleveland's near West Side.
“As tough as this is, I'm proud of the kids for how hard they battled,” Coach Ganor said after the Wildcats were turned back by Midpark, 5-3, in a Division I district championship game at Berea High School. “They could have rolled over after the second inning and just chalked it up. And they didn't. They fought to the end.
“That's the great thing about kids in high school sports. They have the energy to keep fighting. It's why I like coaching these kids so much.”
Saint Ignatius (11-9), which was coming off an impressive victory over Olmsted Falls in Friday's semifinals, will close its season with games against Benedictine at Case Western Reserve University on Monday and versus Brunswick at Progressive Field on Wednesday night at 7.
Midpark, which also upset the Wildcats in the district finals of 2006, improved to 17-10.
It was a case of a tough start on Saturday, as the Meteors soared to a 5-0 lead entering the bottom of the second inning. And they did it in stunning fashion.
With nobody on in the top of the first, Saint Ignatius issued the dreaded two-out walk. Senior catcher Jim Parker followed with a bloop single and senior center fielder Adam Singer delivered a two-run double.
After Midpark junior Kyle Heineke pitched out of a two-on, no-out situation in the bottom of the first, two more walks opened the door for the game's biggest blow – a three-run home run by senior shortstop Eric Murphy that soared over the fence in right-center field with two outs in the top of the second.
Only a leaping one-handed catch against the fence in right-center by 'Cats' junior center fielder Tim McCoy prevented the Meteors from doing further damage.
Trailing, 5-0, Saint Ignatius called on senior catcher/pitcher Cory Finkler and the Toledo recruit moved from behind the plate to the pitcher's mound and was outstanding over the final five innings.
“Cory Finkler did a phenomenal job in a tough situation,” said Coach Ganor. “He hadn't pitched in two weeks and just did a fantastic job of holding it and giving us a chance. And providing the offense!"
After retiring the Meteors in order in the top of the third, Finkler struck out the side in the fourth. He pitched out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the fifth and was near flawless in the sixth and seventh innings.
In the bottom of the fifth, Finkler put the Wildcats back in the game by blasting a majestic two-run home run deep over the fence in left center. Cory belted a grand slam for his first varsity home run in Friday's 12-3 victory over Olmsted Falls.
Saint Ignatius would combine base hits by senior designated hitter Joe Greco and senior first baseman and co-captain Mike Horejsei, a wild pitch and a fielder's choice into a run in the bottom of the sixth.
But the Wildcats couldn't quite climb the hill that was built by the early five-run deficit.
“It's tough, but that's baseball,” Coach Ganor said. “They got a couple of key hits, we didn't make a couple of key pitches and that's the game. If the kids weren't who they are, I would never do this job. You dont coach for money and you don't coach for notoriety on the high-school level, I don't think.
“As a corps, they're just great kids.”
SAINT IGNATIUS VERSUS OLMSTED FALLS DISTRICT SEMIFINAL BASEBALL RECAP.
POSTED ON 5/20/11.
CLUTCH PINCH-HIT ROLES BY RALPH LUCARELLI AND ANDREW PISCIONERI, A TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY NEAL JACOBS, A MEMORABLE GRAND SLAM BY CORY FINKLER, SOUND DEFENSE AND ANOTHER GUTSY PERFORMANCE IN RELIEF BY TIM DONELON HELP SHOW THE WAY IN A 12-3 VICTORY OVER THE BULLDOGS.
By Eddie Dwyer
Copyright, May 2011
For Saint Ignatius' gifted senior right fielder Neal Jacobs, Friday's 12-3 victory over Olmsted Falls in the Division I District Semifinals at Berea High School was a bit of sweet revenge.
But as is his nature, Jacobs, one of the Wildcats' four captains, summed up the victory over the Bulldogs with the same calm, class and confidence he brings to the diamond.
“It means a lot to me and it means a lot to the team,” said Jacobs, who was in the starting lineup last season when Olmsted Falls defeated the Wildcats by one run in a district championship game at Lakewood Stadium. “It's a tournament game, so winning it is always big. But what makes it better is that we stressed the importance of coming out strong. We got that spark today and felt that we were at the top of our game.”
In improving to 11-8 overall, Saint Ignatius advanced to Saturday's district championship game against the winner of Friday night's semifinal between Midpark and Lincoln-West. That game was called after five innings because of darkness and will be resumed on Saturday at 10 a.m., with Midpark leading, 7-6. The championship game is now scheduled to get underway 45 minutes after the completion of the Meteors versus Wolverines match up.
Olmsted Falls, which went on to advance to the state final four last season, slipped to 12-13.
As for the spark Jacobs referred to, it came courtesy of his powerful swing to the oppositte field, a two-out, two-run rope that sent Mr. Rawlings over the fence in right field in the bottom of the first inning. Jacobs' seventh round-tripper of the spring equaled the amount of home runs he hit last season.
Trailing, 2-0, Olmsted Falls combined a hit batsman, a stolen base, a walk, a pitch in the dirt, a throwing error and an RBI single by starting pitcher Denton Sagerman into two runs in the top of the second.
“You just have to stay with it and bounce back,” Jacobs said of the Bulldogs' answer. “Coach (Brad) Ganor always says, 'Score some runs and then put up a goose egg. That's the biggest momentum stopper.'”
The Wildcats followed their head coach's lead in the bottom of the second inning, as junior center fielder Tim McCoy lined a leadoff single to right and stole second base. After senior first baseman Mike Horejsei battled back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk, he and McCoy pulled off a double steal.
Sagerman (4-2), the Bulldogs' ace, reached back for something extra and struck out the next two batters with runners on second and third.
But just when that fickle Mr. Momentum seemed to be leaning toward the Olmsted Falls dugout, Wildcats sophomore middle infielder Dan Rowbottom went the opposite way with a 3-2 pitch for a two-run double to left field.
Although Saint Ignatius did not get its goose egg in the top third – the Bulldogs cut the deficit to 4-3 on a walk and a one-double by junior third baseman Brennan Laird – it would be the last time Olmsted Falls would cross the plate.
Senior right-hander Tim Donelon, a young man who nearly four years ago wondered if he would ever pitch for Saint Ignatius, came on in relief after Laird's double and recorded a strikeout and fly out to Jacobs in right field.
Donelon, who prior to this season had not pitched since the summer before his freshman year at the Jesuit Preparatory School, would go on to record his fifth victory against only one defeat.
Not bad for a kid who underwent both labrum and Tommy John surgeries in hopes that he would some day step to the mound wearing the 'Cats' blue, gold and white.
“I just thought the whole time that there was no way I could let them tie the game again, because then they would have the momentum back,” said Donelon, who pitched out of a first-and-second situation with one out in the top of the fourth, retired the Bulldogs in order in the fifth, pitched out of a first-and-second jam with no outs in the sixth and ended the game with a 1-2-3 seventh on three ground balls. “I threw stirkes and I had a great defense behind me. They were making all of the plays.”
And so how does it feel, after all the surgeries and all of the rehab, to defeat one of Northeast Ohio's top programs and a heck of pitcher in Sagerman on a district-semifinal stage?
“It's all worth it,' Donelon said. “It's nice to finally see some positive results. To be able to play again, it's great. Especially with Saint Ignatius.”
The positive results just kept coming for Saint Ignatius on the sun-drenched field at Berea, as senior left fielder Tyler Kette delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth and juniors Ralph Lucarelli and Andrew Piscioneri came up with clutch pinch-hit efforts in the bottom of the fifth with the bases loaded – a sacrifice fly to deep center field by Lucarelli and a base hit through the left side by Piscioneri off a hit-and-run. The 'Cats loaded the bases on a walk to senior designated hitter Joe Greco, an error and another walk to Horejsei.
Leading, 7-3, Coach Ganor's team took total command in the bottom of the sixth, a frame that featured a walk to Kette, a single by Jacobs, a sacrifice bunt by Greco, a base hit by McCoy, a bases-loaded walk to Horejsei's keen batting eye and another “Say Good Bye to Mr. Rawlings” by senior catcher Cory Finkler that soared over the 360-foot sign in center field. Cory's grand slam marked his first home run on the varsity level.
“We talked about knowing their roles and producing when they have opportunities,” said Coach Ganor of the pinch-hit assignments by Lucarelli and Piscioneri. “I told them, fourth, fifth or sixth inning be ready to hit, and both of them produced.
“Collectively as a team, Marques (starter Marques Pagan) did what he could do to get us into the third inning and Tim Donelon did a fantastic job of getting out of some big situations and giving us a chance to put up that big inning. If we're in the strike zone, we have the stuff to get a lot of people out. And obviously it's something we talk about a lot.”
MORE OF THE SAME.
DIVISION I DISTRICT BASEBALL IS NOW POSTPONED UNTIL FRIDAY.
POSTED ON 5/18/11 AT HIGH NOON AND UPDATED AT 1:30 P.M.
THE OHSAA DIVISION I DISTRICT SEMIFINAL BASEBALL GAME BETWEEN SAINT IGNATIUS AND OLMSTED FALLS AT BEREA HIGH SCHOOL HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL FRIDAY BECAUSE OF THE PERSISTENT RAIN THAT HAS DRENCHED NORTHEAST OHIO.
FRIDAY'S GAME AT BEREA IS SCHEDULED FOR 3 P.M. WE CAN ONLY HOPE.
TODAY'S DISTRICT SEMIFINAL BASEBALL GAME IS POSTPONED.
POSTED ON 5/17/11 AT 9:59 A.M.
THE WILDCATS' DIVISION I DISTRICT SEMIFINAL BASEBALL GAME VERSUS OLMSTED FALLS AT BEREA HIGH SCHOOL HAS BEEN POSTPONED. WEATHER PERMITTING, THE GAME WILL BE PLAYED ON WEDNESDAY AT BEREA AT 3 P.M. HOWEVER, THE FORECAST DOESN'T CALL FOR A CLEARING UNTIL THURSDAY. SO WE WILL KEEP YOU POSTED.
OHSAA TOURNAMENT GAMES TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER ALL OTHER SCHEDULED GAMES. IF THE GAME IS POSTPONED AGAIN ON WEDNESDAY, IT WILL BE RESCHEDULED FOR THURSDAY.
FROM THE NEEDLESS TO SAY DEPARTMENT, TODAY'S VARSITY BASEBALL GAME AGAINST ST. EDWARD IN STRONGSVILLE HAS BEEN RAINED OUT.
THE WILDCATS' NEXT SCHEDULED GAME IS TOMORROW (TUESDAY) IN THE BEREA DIVISION I DISTRICT SEMIFINALS. SAINT IGNATIUS AND OLMSTED FALLS ARE SCHEDULED FOR THE 3 P.M. GAME AT BEREA HIGH SCHOOL.
KEEP IN MIND THAT IF THE FORECAST HOLDS UP AND TUESDAY'S GAME IS CANCELED, IT WILL BE RESCHEDULED FOR WEDNESDAY, AND SO ON THROUGHOUT THE WEEK. OHSAA TOURNAMENT GAMES TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER ALL OTHER SCHEDULED GAMES.
JUST ANOTHER SOGGY SATURDAY.
POSTED ON 5/14/11 AT 8:44 A.M.
TODAY'S VARSITY BASEBALL GAME VERSUS MEDINA AT BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE HAS BEEN RAINED OUT.
THE WILDCATS ARE SCHEDULED TO PLAY ST. EDWARD ON MONDAY AT THE NORTHERN OHIO COMPLEX IN STRONGSVILLE AND TUESDAY IS THE DISTRICT SEMIFINAL GAME AGAINST OLMSTED FALLS AT BEREA HIGH SCHOOL. THE FIRST PITCH FOR TUESDAY'S GAME IS 3 P.M.
AS ALWAYS, WE WILL KEEP YOU UPDATED. THE EARLY FORECAST FOR NEXT WEEK IS SHAKY, TO SAY THE LEAST.
NOTE SITE CHANGE FOR SATURDAY'S VARSITY BASEBALL GAME.
POSTED ON 5/13/11 AT 4:05 P.M.
SATURDAY'S VARSITY BASEBALL GAME VERSUS MEDINA WILL BE PLAYED AT BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE AT 10 A.M. THE GAME WAS ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED FOR TALTY FIELD IN THE BROOKSIDE RESERVATION. AGAIN, WEATHER PERMITTING, THE GAME WILL BE PLAYED AT BW.
ANOTHER VICTORY BY MOTHER NATURE.
POSTED ON 5/12/11.
After an hour delay, Saint Ignatius' varsity baseball game at Lakewood on Thursday was canceled by the umpiring crew because of repeated lightning in the area surrounding Lakewood Stadium.
The Wildcats' next scheduled game is Saturday against the Battling Bees of Medina on Talty Field in the Brookside Reservation (Brookside Park to us old-timers). The first pitch is slated for 10 a.m.
SAINT IGNATIUS VERSUS VALLEY FORGE VARSITY BASEBALL RECAP.
POSTED ON 5/11/11.
WILDCATS SET THE TEMPO WITH A SIX-RUN FIRST INNING AND GO ON TO DEFEAT THE PATRIOTS, 11-1, IN WEDNESDAY EVENING'S DIVISION I SECTIONAL FINAL AT BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE.
SAINT IGNATIUS WINS ITS 23RD CONSECUTIVE SECTIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP AND ADVANCES TO TUESDAY'S DISTRICT-SEMIFINAL MATCH UP WITH OLMSTED FALLS.
By Eddie Dwyer
Copyright, May 2011
Saint Ignatius' standout senior right fielder and co-captain Neal Jacobs said the whole team felt it, that it definitely “hurt” to lose five games in a row.
But after a heartfelt discussion among themselves, the Wildcats, said Jacobs, knew they had to pick it up, that it's a new season and now everyone starts 0-0.
Whatever the Wildcats discussed privately must have had a strong purpose, as Coach Brad Ganor's team picked it up in a hurry Wednesday evening and defeated Valley Forge, 11-1, in a Division I sectional-final baseball game at Baldwin-Wallace College. The game was called after 4½ innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
In winning its 23rd consecutive sectional baseball title, Saint Ignatius improved to 10-8 and advanced to Tuesday's district semifinal against the Olmsted Falls Bulldogs at Berea High School. The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Olmsted Falls, which advanced by defeating Parma, 9-0, on Wednesday afternoon, snapped Saint Ignatius' string of three consecutive district championships by defeating the Wildcats by one run last season in what was then the Lakewood District Championship.
“I think the fire in us from the last (district) game is really going to help,” Jacobs said. “They're (Olmsted Falls) the team that ended it for us last year, so I think that's going to bring out the intensity in a lot of players.”
That intensity was evident early and often on the sun-drenched field at BW, as the Wildcats scored six times in the bottom of the first inning.
With two outs and nobody on, senior left fielder/designated hitter Tyler Kette was hit by a pitch and Jacobs followed with a sharp single up the middle. Senior first baseman/relief pitcher Mike Horejsei loaded the bases by drawing a walk and the first run crossed the plate after senior designated hitter/outfielder Joe Greco was hit by a pitch.
Senior catcher Cory Finkler followed with a base hit through the right side that produced two more runs and a wild relay throw to the plate made the score 4-0. Senior second baseman Colin Gallagher delivered an RBI single and, after a wild pitch, Gallagher stole third base. Sophomore center fielder Conor Hennessey, who had walked, broke for second base and, on the throw to second, Gallagher came hustling home for the 'Cats' sixth run.
“They set the table and made it happen,” said Coach Ganor. “We put a lot of pressure on these guys to play at a high level, day in and day out. We're trying to teach them that every team we play, it's their World Series. Even when we play Walsh (Walsh Jesuit), Xavier (St. Xavier) and those guys, it almost makes their season if they beat us.
“It puts a lot of pressure on these guys and I think they felt that the last week or so,” Coach Ganor continued. “I talked to them about putting 17 games behind us and starting fresh today. And they did the job. They did what they had to do to win the game.”
Saint Ignatius pushed its lead to 9-0 in the bottom of the second inning. Sophomore third baseman Dan Rowbottom lined a single up the middle, stole second with one out and came around to score on a triple by Jacobs to deep left-center field. After Horejsei drew another walk, Greco laid down a perfect bunt that scored Jacobs and saw Greco beat the throw to first.
A walk to Finkler loaded the bases and Gallagher drove the ball to deep left field for a sacrifice fly that brought in the ninth run.
The Wildcats' 10th and 11th runs came in the bottom of the third and were courtesy of a hit batsman, a two-base error off an errant pick-off attempt, an RBI single by Rowbottom and a two-out E-5.
Junior southpaw Zak Shockley pitched the first three innings, yielding a run on two hits, striking out six and walking four.
Senior right-hander Tim Donelon worked a 1-2-3 top of the fourth and Horejsei struck out two and walked two in throwing a hitless fifth.
NOTE: Saint Ignatius is scheduled to travel to Lakewood Stadium tomorrow (Thursday) for a regular-season game with the Rangers. The first pitch is slated for 4:30 p.m.
THE WILDCATS AND THE PATRIOTS TO MEET IN A SECIONAL-FINAL REMATCH.
JUST A REMINDER THAT COACH BRAD GANOR'S VARSITY BASEBALL TEAM WILL FACE VALLEY FORGE TOMORROW (WEDNESDAY) IN A DIVISION I SECTIONAL FINAL AT BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE. THE FIRST PITCH IS SCHEDULED FOR 5 P.M.
VALLEY FORGE ADVANCED TO WEDNESDAY'S GAME BY DEFEATING GARFIELD HEIGHTS, 4-1, IN A SEMIFINAL MATCH UP ON TUESDAY.
THE WILDCATS AND THE PATRIOTS MET IN A SECTIONAL FINAL LAST SEASON AT VALLEY FORGE, WITH SAINT IGNATIUS HOLDING A 4-0 LEAD THROUGH FIVE INNINGS BEFORE TURNING BACK THE PATRIOTS, 4-2.
MARK THE CALENDAR.
SAINT IGNATIUS' VARSITY BASEBALL TEAM WILL MAKEUP ITS GAME AGAINST BRUNSWICK IN PROGRESSIVE FIELD ON MAY 25 AT 7:30 P.M. THE WILDCATS WERE SCHEDULED TO PLAY BRUNSWICK ON MAY 6. BUT AS WE REPORTED ON MAY 5, THE GAME WAS POSTPONED BY THE INDIANS.
- POSTED BY EDDIE DWYER ON 5/10/11 AT 1:58 P.M.
SAINT IGNATIUS VARSITY BASEBALL RECAP.
POSTED ON 5/9/11 AT 12:25 A.M.
WILDCATS EXPERIENCE A ROUGH WEEKEND AT THE ANNUAL JESUIT TOURNAMENT.
POSTSEASON PLAY BEGINS THIS COMING WEEK.
By Eddie Dwyer
Copyright, May 2011
TOLEDO, OHIO – The Saint Ignatius varsity baseball program experiences a five-game losing streak about as often as Cleveland enjoys a mild and dry spring.
But that is the weight the 2011 Wildcats have to lift from their collective shoulders and try to use as a motivational tool. Because the next time they step on a diamond, losing will not be an alternative.
The Wildcats, who swung the bats pretty well during this past weekend's annual Ohio Jesuit Tournament, did not have the overall pitching and defense to withstand rallies from the talent-rich programs of Cincinnati St. Xavier, host Toledo St. John's Jesuit and Walsh Jesuit.
In going 0-4 in the tournament, including two losses to Walsh Jesuit, Saint Ignatius slipped to 9-8 heading into this week's Division I sectional play. The five-game skein started with a 2-1 loss at Euclid on Thursday, a game that saw the Wildcats outhit the Panthers, 9-3, but issue nine walks.
Saint Ignatius will play the winner of the semifinal match up between Valley Forge and Garfield Heights in a sectional final on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Wildcats head coach Brad Ganor said the game has been switched from Talty Field to Baldwin-Wallace College.
“I think I said about eight games ago that pitching and defense were the things that would make or break this team,” said Coach Ganor, after he watched his Wildcats surrender leads all weekend. “But we didn't get the pitching we had hoped for. What is also frustrating is that the plays we didn't make are plays we have practiced at least a hundred times.”
Saint Ignatius played Walsh Jesuit on Saturday in legendary Ned Skeldon Stadium, the former home of the Tolodo Mud Hens.
The first of the two games with the Warriors was the completion of the 2-2 season opener in March at Walsh Jesuit, which was called after six innings because of darkness.
Saint Ignatius and Walsh Jesuit picked right up where they left off and it took three more innings to finally decide it. The Wildcats took a 3-2 lead with two outs in the top of the ninth, as junior shortstop Mike Ruffing was hit by pitch, advanced to third base on an errant pick-off attempt and came home on a base hit by sophomore third baseman Dan Rowbottom.
But the Wildcats couldn't put the Warriors away.
With one out and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth, Coach Chris Kaczmar's team combined a walk, a hit batsman, a sacrifice bunt, an RBI single by senior Dan Keller and a pitch in the dirt that bounced away from the catcher into a 4-3 victory.
In the second game, Saint Ignatius junior catcher Ralph Lucarelli gave his team the early lead by belting his fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot over the left-field fence in Ned Skeldon Stadium in the bottom of the second.
Walsh Jesuit (15-2) had the answer again, however, this time in the form of a four-run top of the third that featured a two-run triple by senior Nate Lundy and a squeeze bunt for a run by freshman Nate Romans.
The Warriors completed the sweep, 6-3, with junior southpaw Mike Marsinek (6-0) picking up the victory in both games. Saint Ignatius, which in the bottom of the sixth got a lead-off double by senior left fielder Tyler Kette and a two-out RBI single from Lucarelli, outhit Walsh Jesuit, 7-4.
In what was on official game, the umpires called it after the sixth because of rain and the threat of lightning.
ST. XAVIER 18, SAINT IGNATIUS 7: In another game that had to be resumed because of darkness, the Wildcats scored four runs in the bottom of the first on Saturday evening and held a 4-2 lead entering the top of the fifth. The game was played at St. John's Jesuit.
The big blows in the first inning for the 'Cats were an RBI single by Kette, a two-run home run by senior right fielder Neal Jacobs, a double off the fence in right-center by senior first baseman Mike Horejsei and a run-scoring single up the middle by junior center fielder Tim McCoy.
But the Bombers (18-5) from the Queen City, ranked No. 1 in the state this past week, scored four times in the top of the fifth in taking a 6-4 lead.
Saint Ignatius tied the score on Jacobs' second home run of the game and sixth of the season, a high soaring shot that flirted with the clouds and landed over the fence in left field in the bottom of the fifth.
On the strength of an RBI double by senior Chad Sudbrack and a two-run double by senior Nick Albers, St. Xavier scored three times in the top of the sixth for a 9-6 lead and, when the game was called because of darkness, the Bombers had runners on first and third with no outs in the top of the seventh.
That is where play resumed on Sunday afternoon, and the rest of the top of the seventh was something the Wildcats would just as soon forget. Simply put, it was a nightmare that saw the Bombers score nine more times. For the game, Saint Ignatius issued 11 walks, including five to St. Xavier's junior leadoff hitter Connor Hundley.
ST. JOHN'S JESUIT 11, SAINT IGNATIUS 7: Trailing, 4-2, in Sunday's late game at St. John's Jesuit, the Wildcats came up with a five-run third inning that was highlited by an RBI double by Jacobs, a run-scoring single by senior outfielder Joe Greco, an RBI single by McCoy, a base hit by Lucarelli, a sacrifice fly by senior second baseman Colin Gallagher and an RBI single by Ruffing.
Ruffing and Rowbottom would trigger double plays with some exceptional defense, including a leaping catch of a line drive by Ruffing. But a couple of crucial misplays by the 'Cats' defense, consecutive hit batsmen with the bases loaded and five walks, including three straight with the bases loaded, fueled the Titans' decisive six-run sixth. St. John's Jesuit improved to 16-3.
REMEMBER THESE TITANS: A big thank you and a tip of this Saint Ignatius cap goes out to St. John's Jesuit for the OUTSTANDING job it did hosting this year's Ohio Jesuit Tournament.
AND WE'LL LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR: When Saint Ignatius will be the host. As Coach Ganor said, his biggest assignment as the host coach will be finding the proper field of play. As you know, the 'Cats do not have a home field.
JUST A REMINDER: The Wildcats' scheduled regular season games against Cuyahoga Falls (on Monday) and Amherst Steele (on Tuesday) have been canceled because both of those schools have commitments to other games.
SAINT IGNATIUS AT EUCLID VARSITY BASEBALL RECAP.
POSTED ON 5/5/11.
WILDCATS COME TO LIFE AT THE END, BUT IT'S TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE. NINE WALKS ISSUED TO EUCLID AND MISSED OPPORTUNITIES BY THE 'CATS SPELL THE DIFFERENCE IN A 2-1 LOSS TO THE PANTHERS.
NOTE: THE CLEVELAND INDIANS HAVE CANCELLED FRIDAY'S HIGH SCHOOL HARDBALL CLASSIC BECAUSE THEY NEED TO PREP PROGRESSIVE FIELD IN ORDER TO HAVE IT READY FOR THE NEXT HOME STAND, WHICH BEGINS ON TUESDAY AGAINST TAMPA BAY.
THE WILDCATS, WHO WERE SCHEDULED TO PLAY BRUNSWICK ON FRIDAY NIGHT AS PART OF THE HARDBALL CLASSIC, HAVE BEEN OFFERED TWO POSSIBLE MAKEUP DATES FROM THE INDIANS - MAY 16 OR MAY 26.
By Eddie Dwyer
Copyright, May 2011
When Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor was informed of some of the final numbers from Thursday's game at Euclid, the veteran skipper had a very frank and honest reply.
“It's amazing it was 2-1,” Coach Ganor said, referring to the fact that his team issued nine walks en route to slipping to 9-4 on the season. “We came to life there at the end, but too little too late. We just have to learn from it, get better and understand that is the type of tournament team that we're going to see early. And we have to be able to make adjustments earlier in the game.”
After the Wildcats left two runners on base in the top of the first inning, Euclid (9-5) rode a leadoff walk, a double, a pitch in the dirt that bounced away and a sacrifice fly to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
It stayed that way until the top of the third when with two outs and nobody on, senior left fielder Tyler Kette came up with a hustle double off a line drive and senior right fielder and co-capatin Neal Jacobs lined an RBI single to left.
But then came the missed opportunities.
In the top the fourth, Saint Ignatius came up empty after having runners on first and second with one out.
After sophomore left-hander Mike LaManna struck out the side in the bottom of the fourth, the 'Cats left a runner stranded at third base in the top of the fifth.
Euclid was threatening to build on its one-run lead in the bottom of the fifth. But the Panthers sent the two runners they had on base in motion and a line drive to left field was caught by Kette, who alertly fired the baseball to junior Mike Ruffing for a 7-6 double play. 'Cats senior first baseman and co-captain Mike Horejsei then made a highlight-reel diving stop and went unassisted to the bag for the third out.
“We have runners on second and third with one out in the sixth and like Matt (Wildcats hitting coach Matt Blazer '94) said, we need somebody other than Tyler Kette and Neal Jacobs to get the big hit with the RBI,” Coach Ganor said. “We need other guys in other parts of the order to step up.”
The Wildcats, who outhit the Panthers, 9-3, were in a perfect spot to at least tie the game in the top seventh.
With one out, senor outfielder /designated hitter Joe Greco drew a walk, Horejsei folowed with a double to deep center field, but the pinch-runner for Greco at first base was thrown out at the plate on two excellent throws by the Panthers. Kette drew a walk with two outs, putting runners on first and second, but the game ended on a 6-3 groundout.
“A lot of people will question, why did I send him (the pinch runner)?” said Coach Ganor, who will guide his team in this weekend's talent-rich Jesuit Tournament at Toledo St. John's Jesuit. “As long as I have been the head coach, I've always sent the runner in that situation. It's going to take two perfect throws to get him out, and they made the throws.”
One other bright spot for the Wildcats on Thursday was sophomore third baseman Dan Rowbottom, who had three hits and made some nice plays at the hot corner.
SAINT IGNATIUS BASEBALL COACH BRAD GANOR SAID THAT WILDCATS' SENIOR RIGHT FIELDER AND CO-CAPTAIN NEAL JACOBS WILL BE HONORED BY THE PLAIN DEALER THIS WEEK AS ONE OF THE PD'S PLAYERS OF THE WEEK. FOR A LOOK AT NEAL'S IMPRESSIVE ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE IN SATURDAY'S DOUBLEHEADER, CHECK OUT THE CORNER'S STORY BELOW.
YOU GUESSED IT - ANOTHER VARSITY BASEBALL RAIN OUT.
POSTED ON 5/2/11 AT 1:27 P.M.
TODAY'S (MONDAY) SCHEDULED GAME AT ST. VINCENT-ST. MARY IN PATTERSON PARK HAS BEEN POSTPONED BECAUSE OF THE TOLL SUNDAY NIGHT'S RAIN TOOK ON THE FIELD.
HERE IS WHAT THE WILDCATS' REMAINING SCHEDULE FOR THE WEEK LOOKS LIKE RIGHT NOW: OFF TUESDAY; VERSUS AKRON FIRESTONE AT BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE ON WEDNESDAY; THURSDAY'S GAME AT TWINSBURG HAS BEEN CANCELLED BECAUSE THE TIGERS HAVE TO MAKE UP A LEAGUE GAME; FRIDAY VERSUS BRUNSWICK AT PROGRESSIVE FIELD; AND SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, THE ANNUAL JESUIT TOURNAMENT AT TOLEDO ST. JOHN'S JESUIT.
- EDDIE DWYER.
SAINT IGNATIUS VARSITY BASEBALL RECAP.
POSTED ON 5/1/11.
WILDCATS BOUNCE BACK FROM ONE THEY GAVE AWAY ON FRIDAY NIGHT TO SWEEP CANFIELD, 6-4, AND DUBLIN SCIOTO, 12-0, ON SATURDAY.
CORY FINKLER THROWS A GUTSY 5 2/3 INNINGS IN THE OPENER AGAINST THE CARDINALS AND MARQUES PAGAN IS SAVVY AND EFFICIENT IN THE NIGHTCAP VS. SCIOTO.
NEAL JACOBS HAS AN AFTERNOON MOST HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS CAN ONLY DREAM ABOUT AND JOE GRECO AND RALPH LUCARELLI PROVIDE SOME THUNDER ON A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN MAHONING VALLEY.
SAINT IGNATIUS IS SEEDED SECOND AT THE BEREA SECTIONAL/DISTRICT (SEE AFTER THE BASEBALL RECAP).
By Eddie Dwyer
Copyright, May 2011
NILES, OHIO - After losing by two runs at Canton Central Catholic on Friday night, the Saint gnatius Wildcats got back on the bus and headed for their hotel in Niles.
Following a good night's rest, Coach Brad Gannor's 'Cats chowed down at the breakfast table and vowed to make amends for their performance on Friday. No one had to remind them that the 5-3 loss to the Crusaders was frustrating. Quite frankly, Saint Ignatius handed it to CCC on a silver platter.
The Wildcats had a few minutes to think about how they were going to rebound, as they joined Coach Ganor in healthy walk to Eastwood Field. One of the more baseball-rich, minor-league facilities this old-timer has ever seen, Eastwood Field is the home of Indians affiliate, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
With a blue sky overhead and that thing they call the sun making a rare spring appearance, and even sticking around for awhile, Saint Ignatius displayed character and talent on a day Hall of Famer Ernie Banks would be sure to say: “Let's play two.”
True to their promise, the Wildcats started fast against a solid Canfield program.
With two outs and nobody on in the top of the first inning, Saint Ignatius responded with base hits by senior first baseman/relief pitcher Mike Horejsei and senior left fielder Tyler Kette, and a majestic three-run home run by senior right fielder Neal Jacobs that soared out of Eastwood Field.
Canfield (10-4) had an impressive answer, however, as the Cardinals responded with four runs on five hits in the bottom of the first.
In what Saint Ignatius pitching coach T.J. Donovan '94 described as a gritty performance, senior right-hander and Toledo recruit Cory Finkler, after throwing 38 of his 105 pitches in the first inning, blanked Canfield over the next 5 2/3 innings. Horejsei threw an impressive bottom of the seventh in earning the save.
Jacobs, a Central Michigan recruit, silenced the Cardinals with his glove and his bat. He made two big-time throws from right field – a bullet to home plate that forced a base runner at third to stay put and a highlight-reel, one-hopper to sophomore third baseman Dan Rowbottom, who did a nice job of blocking the runner away from the bag and applying the tag.
In driving in all of the 'Cats' six runs, Jacobs added two line-drive singles to his 3-for-4 effort against the Cardinals. Saint Ignatius went back on top with a two-run fifth and added some insurance with a run in the top of the seventh.
Jacobs completed his afternoon with three hits (a double, single and triple) and one RBI in the 12-0 triumph over Scioto. Saint Ignatius, which had 13 hits in the nightcap, also rode three-run home runs by senior outfielder/designated hitter Joe Greco and junior catcher Ralph Lucarelli, a 405-foot lead-off triple to dead center field in the fourth by Horejsei and an RBI single by Kette in improving to 9-3.
Greco's blast sailed beyond the bullpen fence in left and Lucarelli's authoritative shot also cleared the fence near the bullpen and got a taste of the Wendy's Frosty sign before bouncing away.
That was more than enough support for senior right-hander Marques Pagan, who threw what Coach Donovan referred to as an “efficient game" in improving to 3-0. Marques, who averaged 10 pitches per inning through the fourth in what was a five-inning, 10-run mercy rule game, limited Scioto to three hits.
WILDCATS BEGIN THEIR TOURNAMENT RUN ON MAY 11: Coach Ganor's Wildcats were seeded second at the Berea Division I sectional/district and will begin postseason play on May 11 against the winner of the sectional semifinal matchup between Garfield Heights and Valley Forge. The sectional final is scheduled for Talty Field n the Brookside Reservation at 4:30 p.m.
St. Edward was seeded first at Berea and, as the Eagles have done for the past few years, took the option to compete at the Struthers District.
SAINT IGNATIUS VERSUS PARMA VARSITY BASEBALL RECAP.
POSTED ON 4/29/11 AT 10:33 P.M.
IT WAS ALL ABOUT THAT PLASTIC BALL.
WILDCATS COME UP WITH 12 RUNS IN THE TOP OF THE FIRST AND GO ON TO SCORE 27 ON 22 HITS IN VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK (FORMERLY STATE ROAD PARK) ON THURSDAY EVENING.
TIM McCOY DRIVES IN FIVE RUNS AND MAKES A BIG-TIME CATCH IN CENTER FIELD, CONOR HENNESSEY BELTS A TWO-RUN TRIPLE AND STEPHEN ALEXANDER, ANDREW PISCIONERI AND TIM HAWKINS HODGSON SAY GOOD-BYE TO MR. RAWLINGS, WITH HAWKINS HODGSON PRODUCING A GRAND SLAM.
TIM DONELON, MIKE LaMANNA, SCOTT CHASE, MATT HOYER AND DAN OAKLIEF COMBINE ON A FIVE-INNING NO-HITTER.
By Eddie Dwyer
Copyright, April-May, 2011
With a straight face, Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor talked about what his players looked upon as the key to driving in so many runs on Thursday.
“We had a tremendous, competitive Wiffle Ball game yesterday, for about two hours,” Coach Ganor said after the Wildcats overpowered the Parma Redmen, 27-0, in Veterans Memorial Park. “They're convinced that it's the reason we hit the ball so well today. We were playing Wiffle Ball because of numerous rain outs. We didn't know what else to do, so we had three teams of Wiffle Ball and just had a blast.”
The 'Cats came out blasting on Thursday, sending 16 batters to the plate in the top of the first inning and scoring 12 runs on nine hits.
Junior center fielder Tim McCoy drove in four of those 12 runs, senior right fielder Neal Jacobs accounted for three of them, sophomore third baseman Dan Rowbottom and senior first baseman Mike Horejsei each had a two-RBI first inning, and senior designated hitter Tyler Kette brought home a base runner off a perfectly executed hit-and-run single.
The Wildcats, who were playing their first game in two weeks, scored four more times in the top of the third and left no doubt with a seven-run fourth inning. High school baseball was never so merciful, as Coach Ganor went to his bench early and often in a game that was called after five innings because of the OHSAA's 10-run mercy rule. Saint Ignatius improved to 7-2 and Parma slipped to 2-6.
An RBI single by McCoy, a two-run, deep-in-the-gap triple by sophomore Conor Hennessey and a sharp run-producing single by senior catcher Joe Vavro were the key hits in the third, and three home runs did the damage in the fourth.
Sending Mr. Rawlings soaring into an ominous sky that the late Grantland Rice would have appreciated were juniors Stephen Alexander, Andrew Piscioneri and Tim Hawkins Hodgson. Alexander drove the ball over the fence in right field for a two-run shot, Piscioneri hit a majestic shot to center and Hawkins Hodgson abused a pitch for a grand slam that sailed over the fence in left field. Alexander said it was his first home run on any level. Even junior left-handed pitcher Zak Shockley joined the hit brigade in the fourth inning by lining an authoritative pinch-hit single into right field.
Parma manged just two walks against five Saint Ignatius pitchers – senior Tim Donelon, sophomore Mike LaManna and juniors Scott Chase, Matt Hoyer and Dan Oaklief. Chase struck out the side in the bottom of the third. The defensive play of the game saw McCoy run down a ball in deep center and make a picture-perfect, over-the-shoulder catch that would have drawn a smile from the great “Say Hey Kid,” Willie Mays.
“We put up some runs early and gave the pitchers some breathing room,” said Coach Ganor, who will send his team against Canton Central Catholic on Friday in Canton at 5 p.m. “And a no-hitter is a no-hitter, don't take that for granted. We pitched well and to swing the bats the way we did today after a two-week layoff, I would like to see what we can do once we start playing ever day.”
SAINT IGNATIUS PICKS UP A VARSITY BASEBALL GAME VERSUS PARMA TODAY (4/28/11). IT WILL BE PLAYED AT 5:30 P.M. IN STATE ROAD PARK.
WILDCATS-EAGLES BASEBALL GAME IS CANCELLED BECAUSE OF UNSAFE CONDITIONS AT ST. EDWARD'S FIELD IN THE NORTHERN OHIO COMPLEX. ATTEMPTS TO RENT OTHER FIELDS WERE UNSUCCESSFUL.
POSTED ON 4/28/11 AT 11:25 A.M.
Saint Ignatius, after learning that today's scheduled varsity baseball game against St. Edward has been wiped out by the shaky field conditions in the Northern Ohio Complex, can only hope to return to action on Friday.
The Wildcats (6-2), who haven't played since April 15, are scheduled to be at Canton Central Catholic tomorrow at 5 p.m. Saint Ignatius is also slated to play a doubleheader on Saturday at Eastwood Field, the home of Indians minor league affiliate, The Mahoning Valley Scrappers. The doubleheader matches the 'Cats against Canfield at 11 a.m., followed by a game versus the Irish of Dublin Scioto.
Saint Ignatius head coach Brad Ganor emphasized that it would be nice for the Wildcats to finally get some games in, especially since the seeding for the Berea Division I sectional/district is taking place on Sunday.
MORE OF THE SAME THIS SOGGY SPRING, AS THE 'CATS' VARSITY BASEBALL TEAM IS ALREADY CANCELLED THROUGH TUESDAY OF THIS COMING WEEK.
POSTED BY EDDIE DWYER ON 4/24/11 AT 9:14 P.M.
SAINT IGNATIUS' VARSITY BASEBALL DOUBLEHEADER IN STRONGSVILLE TOMORROW (MONDAY) HAS BEEN WASHED OUT. THE WILDCATS WERE SCHEDULED TO PLAY THE STRONGSVILLE MUSTANGS AND THE ST. EDWARD EAGLES. THE GAME WITH ST. EDWARD HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED FOR THURSDAY AT THE NORTHERN OHIO COMPLEX IN STRONGSVILLE. THE FIRST PITCH IS SLATED FOR 4:30 P.M.
THE WILDCATS (6-2) SCHEDULED A GAME WITH TRINITY FOR TUESDAY, BUT THAT ALSO HAS BEEN CANCELLED BECAUSE THE TROJANS HAVE TO MAKE UP A GAME IN THE NORTH COAST LEAGUE.
SAINT IGNATIUS' NEXT OUTING, WEATHER PERMITTING, WILL BE ON WEDNESDAY AGAINST BENEDICTINE IN A 4:30 CUYAHOGA RIVER BASEBALL CONFERENCE GAME AT CASE WESTERN RESERVE.
VARSITY BASEBALL IS AGAIN SHUTOUT BY MOTHER NATURE.
POSTED BY EDDIE DWYER ON 4/19/11 AT 10:21 A.M.
THE PERSISTENT RAIN AND COLD TEMPERATURES THAT HIT THE AREA THIS MORNING HAVE FORCED THE CANCELLATION OF TODAY'S GAME AT ZANESVILLE AND WEDNESDAY'S SCHEDULED GAME AT PADUA.
WILDCATS HEAD COACH BRAD GANOR SAID HE IS TRYING TO SCHEDULE A GAME FOR THURSDAY, BUT AS OF NOW THERE ARE NO TEAMS INTERESTED. AS ALWAYS, WE WILL KEEP YOU POSTED.
IF NOTHING MATERIALIZES FOR THURSDAY, THE 'CATS WILL RETURN TO ACTION ON MONDAY, APRIL 25TH, WITH A DOUBLEHEADER IN STRONGSVILLE. SAINT IGNATIUS WILL PLAY THE STRONGSVILLE MUSTANGS AT NOON AT STRONGSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL, AND THEN MAKE THE SHORT TRIP TO THE NORTHERN OHIO COMPLEX IN STRONGSVILLE FOR A 4:30 MATCHUP WITH CUYAHOGA RIVER BASEBALL CONFERENCE RIVAL ST. EDWARD.
TODAY'S VARSITY BASEBALL GAME AT MAYFIELD HAS BEEN RAINED OUT.
ALTHOUGH THE FORECAST IS SHAKY FOR MOST OF THE WEEK, THE WILDCATS (6-2) ARE SCHEDULED TO TRAVEL TO BLUE AVENUE IN MUSKINGUM COUNTY ON TUESDAY FOR A 5 P.M. GAME AGAINST THE ZANESVILLE BLUE DEVILS (9-1). WE WILL KEEP YOU UP TO DATE TOMORROW.
- POSTED BY EDDIE DWYER ON 4/18/11 AT 12:36 P.M.
TODAY'S DOUBLEHEADER AT STRONGSVILLE IS RAINED OUT.
POSTED EDDIE DWYER ON 4/16/11 AT 8:14 A.M.
The Wildcats' scheduled doubleheader today, which would have matched Saint Ignatius against the Strongsville Mustangs and the Cardinals from Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, has been canceled because of rain and the field conditions at Strongsville High School.
Coach Brad Ganor said the Wildcats have rescheduled with the Mustangs for April 25 at Strongsville High School. That game is slated for noon. The 'Cats will be playing a doubleheader on the 25th, as following the Strongsville makeup they will take on Cuyahoga River Baseball Conference rival St. Edward at 4:30 p.m. in the Northern Ohio Complex in Strongsville.
Weather permitting, Saint Ignatius' next game is at Mayfield on Monday, April 18. The first pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
After Friday's 9-8 victory at Olmsted Falls, Coach Ganor's Wildcats stand 6-2, not 7-2 as other outlets have reported.
SAINT IGNATIUS AT OLMSTED FALLS VARSITY BASEBALL RECAP.
POSTED ON 4/15/11
ZAK SHOCKLEY THROWS FIVE COMMANDING SHUTOUT INNINGS, NEAL JACOBS SAYS GOODBYE TO MR. RAWLINGS TWICE AND JOE GRECO, TIM McCOY AND MIKE RUFFING ALSO HELP LEAD A 17-HIT ATTACK, AS GRECO'S BLAST TO CENTER FIELD COMES WITH SOME ENCOURAGEMENT FROM HIS GRANDFATHER.
THE 'CATS' BULLPEN IS A LITTLE SHAKY IN THE 9-8 VICTORY AT THE FALLS.
By Eddie Dwyer
Copyright, April 2011
Saint Ignatius senior left fielder Joe Greco said he received a call from his grandfather, Frank Rolf, before Friday's game at Olmsted Falls.
Mr. Rolf told Joe that there was going to be a home run among his at-bats.
Well, to say that Greco took his grandfather's encouragement to heart would be an understatement.
Leading off the top of the seventh inning, Greco not only hit his first home run of the season by abusing a fastball, his grandfather, who was on hand to see his prediction come true, was able to retrieve the ball. That was after Mr. Rawlings soared deep over the fence in center field, smashed off the tall timber that surrounds the outfield fence and bounced back on to the field. The ball carried about 50 feet up one of the trees after it traveled more than 370 feet.
Greco's majestic blast was one of many big moments for the 'Cats' offense, which produced nine runs and 17 hits. Head coach Brad Ganor was also treated to an outstanding performance by Zak Shockley, as the young lefty started and tossed five shutout innings that included 10 strikeouts and 83 total pitches.
Although it didn't appear so at the time, Greco's round-tripper and the two other runs Saint Ignatius scored in the top of the seventh turned out to be crucial.
Olmsted Falls, trailing, 6-0, entering the bottom of the sixth, got to the Wildcats' bullpen and, after scoring six times in the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs watched Saint Ignatius walk away with a 9-8 victory.
The Wildcats, who are scheduled to play Strongsville (10 a.m.) and Youngstown Cardinal Mooney (3 p.m.) at Strongsville tomorrow (Saturday), improved to 6-2. Olmsted Falls, which defeated Saint Ignatius, 6-5, in last years Lakewood Division I district final, slipped to 4-7.
“I wasn't pleased with what our bullpen did there at the end, but the most important thing is to come away with the win,” said Coach Ganor. “Zak Shockley gave us five very, very good innings and that's a good bounce back for him after not having a great outing the last time. I'm happy for him that he looked as good as he did today.
“Offensively, Neal Jacobs with the two home runs, Joe getting a home run and it was nice to see Tim (McCoy) hit the ball well today,” Coach Ganor continued. “And (Mike) Ruffing continues to get hits. All in all, it's a little bit of a sour taste, but it's better than losing."
Shockley was in control from the get-go.
An imposing presence on the mound at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, Shockley yielded a two-out infield hit in the first inning and a single to left in the second inning. He was at his best in the second inning when the first two batters reached base, the lead-off man on a walk.
Zak took a deep breath, went to his bread-and butter pitches and promptly struck out the side. He would go on to strike out six of the next 10 batters he faced. He finished with just two walks that were more than offset by his 10 Ks.
“You just have to take a step back, pound the zone and do what you got to do,” said Shockley of his final out in the fifth, a strikeout that saw him battle back from a 3-0 count. “Pounding (the fastball) inside, that was working real well today. And the knuckle curve on the outside (corners) was just deadly. It was coming off well, it was just one of those days. Anytime you get a W, it's a good day.”
Shockley said he started to get command of the knuckle curve when he was about 14 years old.
As for the 'Cats' offense, it started playing base-to-base to the tune of a two-out, three-run home run in the top of the first inning by Jacobs. Jacobs, a senior right fielder and one of Coach Ganor's four captains, sent Mr. Rawlings sailing over the 360 mark in center field.
After manufacturing a run in the second inning, Saint Ignatius scored twice in the fifth. Jacobs took another fastball to school, this time a solo shot that towered over the fence in right center and up into the trees. With two outs and nobody on, Greco came up with a hustle double to right field and McCoy, a junior center fielder, delivered an RBI double off the fence in right center.
Ruffing, a junior shortstop who has been swinging some hot aluminum, just missed a home run when he led off the sixth with a triple off the fence in right field. He, Greco (two doubles and a home run) and McCoy each had three hits.
Following Greco's homer, an RBI sacrifice fly by sophomore third baseman Dan Rowbottom and a run-scoring base hit by senior first baseman Mike Horejsei, the 'Cats led, 9-2, heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Olmsted Falls then brought its faithful back in the game with the six-run seventh that was highlighted by a two-out, two-run single to left field by sophomore designated hitter Wesley Allen.
Greco ended the game by hauling in a fly ball in left center.
TODAY'S (4/14/11) VARSITY BASEBALL GAME AT UNIVERSITY SCHOOL HAS BEEN POSTPONED. WILDCATS HEAD COACH BRAD GANOR WAS INFORMED THAT THE PREPPERS WILL BE MAKING UP A LEAGUE GAME TODAY, INSTEAD OF PLAYING THE 'CATS.
COACH GANOR'S WILDCATS ARE SCHEDULED TO TRAVEL TO OLMSTED FALLS ON FRIDAY (TOMORROW).
Congratulations go out to Saint Ignatius senior tennis player James Oliver for being selected as a Plain Dealer Player of the Week.
In last weekend's Rocky River Invitational, James, a Lafayette recruit, defeated highly regarded players from Beachwood and Jefferson. His impressive performance for the week also included a victory over the top player from Solon and a win against a state doubles qualifier from Walsh Jesuit.
SAINT IGNATIUS AT GILMOUR ACADEMY VARSITY BASEBALL RECAP.
POSTED ON 4/13/11 AT 9:42 P.M.
AGAINST ALL ODDS.
TIM DONELON'S REMARKABLE RETURN TO THE MOUND CONTINUES WITH AN "INSPIRATIONAL'' PERFORMANCE AGAINST GILMOUR ACADEMY ON WEDNESDAY.
THE WILDCATS' SENIOR RIGHT-HANDER MAKES HIS FIRST CAREER START ONE HE WILL CHERISH FOREVER.
TYLER KETTE AND NEAL JACOBS CONTINUE THEIR CLUTCH SWINGS, MIKE RUFFING HELPS SET THE TABLE AGAIN AND THE 'CATS' DEFENSE IS SOLID IN DONELON'S 4-0 MASTERY.
By Eddie Dwyer
Copyright, April 2011
As recently as this past winter, Tim Donelon wondered if he would ever take the mound for the Saint Ignatius Wildcats.
After undergoing labrum and Tommy John surgeries, Donelon was unable to pitch as a freshman, sophomore and junior.
In fact, prior to this season, the last time Donelon pitched was the summer before he enrolled at the Jesuit Preparatory School on Cleveland's near West Side.
“I thought about it almost all of the time,” Donelon said of the doubts that lingered. “I came back over the winter and I tried throwing, but the arm was still feeling super sore. So I took a few months off, tryouts came and somehow I was good. I wouldn't say good as new. But it's okay.”
Wednesday afternoon at Gilmour Academy, Donelon was more than okay. Stellar, strong and inspirational are just some of the words that come to mind when describing the senior right-hander's performance.
Donelon, making his first career start after some solid work out of the bullpen, fired a two-hitter in going the distance in the Wildcats' 4-0 victory over the Lancers.
Throwing just 70 pitches, Donelon struck out seven and did not issue a walk. Gilmour's only free pass came on a hit batsman with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
After yielding a single with one out in the bottom of the first and an infield hit with two outs in the bottom of the second, Donelon would go on to retire 15 batters in a row. He now stands 3-0 on the young season, with his first high school triumph coming off a four-inning relief performance at Dublin Jerome on April 2.
“I was working my fastball pretty good, getting ahead in the counts, and my splitter was working pretty good,” Donelon said of his ability to keep the Lancers off-balance. “I was able to locate the splitter until I hit that guy in the last inning.
“They (the Wildcats' defense) were making all of the plays and I just kind of felt like I was in a zone almost.”
Donelon, on the strength of a fly out to senior Joe Greco in short left field and a strikeout, turned Gilmour away after the Lancers, courtesy of an error, a single by catcher Jeff Rousseau and a missed cut off, had runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the first.
Projected to get another starting assignment next week, Donelon started his 15-up-and-15-down stretch by ending the second inning with a strikeout after a Gilmour runner advanced to second base.
“It means a lot,” Donelon said of what he accomplished on a sun-drenched Gilmour field. “It's almost inspirational. When I'm out there and there's guys on base, I just think back to all of the therapy and how I have to make it pay off. Yeah, all of those years.”
Complementing Donelon's memorable start were his defense and a 'Cats' offense that seems to be finding its groove.
Saint Ignatius, which is now 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the Cuyahoga River Baseball Conference, rode a lead-off single by junior shortstop Mike Ruffing, a fielder's choice, a pitch in the dirt and a two-out RBI double to the gap in right-center by senior designated hitter Tyler Kette to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first.
The Wildcats made it 3-0 in the fifth, with the key swings being another lead-off single by Ruffing, a run-scoring sacrifice fly by Kette and a two-out RBI double to deep left by senior right fielder Neal Jacobs. Senior catcher Joe Vavro accounted for the 'Cats' final run when, as a pinch-runner, he scored from third on a wild pitch with two outs in the sixth.
Only a nice diving catch in right field by the Lancers' Matt Pestotnik prevented further damage in the sixth.
“I don't know how you get much better than that, unless you throw a no-hitter,” said Saint Ignatius head coach Brad Ganor, after Donelon wrapped up his gem with a strikeout. “I would have to go back and see, but I think it was by far the most efficient pitching performance in the last two or three years that I can remember. He had total command of all of his pitches.
“You have to be happy for a kid that has battled the arm injuries and has worked as hard as he has,” Coach Ganor continued. “Just to try to come back from that is amazing. He could have easily said forget it, I'm not meant to be a baseball player. But he worked his tail off to get himself healthy and today was a true testament of what he is capable of doing. I couldn't be happier for the kid.”
SANT IGNATIUS AT WILLOUGHBY SOUTH VARSITY BASEBALL RECAP.
POSTED ON 4/12/11.
MARQUES PAGAN STANDS TALL ON THE MOUND, AS THE 6-FOOT-4 SENIOR CAPTAIN RESPONDS TO EVERY CHALLENGE.
DAN OAKLIEF IS IMPRESSIVE IN RELIEF AND MIKE HOREJSEI, NEAL JACOBS, DAN ROWBOTTOM, MIKE RUFFING AND TYLER KETTE LEAD COACH GANOR'S "UNSELFISH AT-BATS" APPROACH IN A 5-1 VICTORY OVER THE REBELS.
NOTE: AN HOUR AFTER THE 'CATS' GAME AT OLMSTED FALLS IS POSTPONED, COACH GANOR SENDS OUT AN E-MAIL LOOKING FOR A GAME AND WILLOUGHBY SOUTH SAYS COME ON OVER TO SHANKLAND ROAD.
By Eddie Dwyer
Copyright, April 2011
Before he took the mound at Willoughby South late Tuesday afternoon, Saint Ignatius' Marques Pagan was issued a challenge by Wildcats head baseball coach Brad Ganor.
“I told him we needed a good quality start out of him,” said Coach Ganor. “And he responded with confident and consistent pitches. Marques did a great job.”
Turning in what Saint Ignatius pitching coach T.J. Donovan '94 described as a gutsy performance, Pagan threw five strong and resilient innings in leading the 'Cats to a 5-1 victory over the South Rebels.
A 6-4 senior right-hander and one of Coach Ganor's four captains, Pagan turned back the Rebels' early causes and finished with a three-hitter that included eight strikeouts and three walks in 80-plus pitches.
After Saint Ignatius combined a line-drive single into center field by sophomore second baseman Dan Rowbottom, a throwing error, a wild pitch and RBI grounder to the right side by senior first baseman and captain Mike Horejsei into a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Pagan faced his first major challenge.
The Rebels, whose lineup includes some gifted all-around athletes, struck with a lead-off triple to right field by senior shortstop Ray Russ in the bottom of the first. Russ is better known to area high school sports fans as a record-setting All-Ohio quarterback.
Displaying the composure Coach Ganor and Coach Donovan expect from their senior pitchers, Pagan struck out the next two batters and, after a walk, he left Russ stranded by getting the hitter to bonce into a 4-3 putout.
Following his 1-2-3 second inning, which included two more strikeouts, Pagan was given a little cushion when his teammates scored two runs in the top of third without the benefit of a hit.
Junior shortstop Mike Ruffing led off with a walk and stole second with one out. Horejsei then drew a walk, senior designated hitter Tyler Kette was hit by a pitch and senior right fielder/captain Neal Jacobs followed with an RBI sacrifice fly to right-center. A delayed steal by Kette and another throwing error by the Rebels made it 3-0.
Pagan, who said the brisk temperatures and occasional 35-mile per hour wind gusts actually added to the movement on his fastball, faced another stern test after yielding a lead-off double in the bottom of the third to right fielder T.J. Lett.
But once again, Pagan stayed calm, led by example and promptly recorded his fifth strikeout. After Lett moved to third on a pitch in the dirt, Pagan coaxed a 5-2 putout that featured a nice throw to the plate by senior third baseman/captain Cory Finkler and a heads-up tag by junior catcher Ralph Lucarelli on Lett, who attempted to jump over and around Lucarelli. A fly out to center field ended the inning.
“Whenever there's a runner on base, I just try to stay focused, throw strikes and get the ball in play, preferably a ground ball or a double play,” said Pagan, who is now 1-0 on the postponement-filled young season for the Wildcats (4-2). “The change-up was beautiful today and I was able to find my curveball. It's nice when you can mix in three pitches (change-up, fastball and curve).”
South cut the deficit to 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth, scoring on a single by Lett, some heads-up base running by Lett that included stealing third base with one out, and a passed ball. Pagan finished his day and the inning by retiring the next two batters on a pop out and a strikeout.
Saint Ignatius, which will send senior right-hander Tim Donelon (2-0) to the mound in Wednesday's Cuyahoga River Baseball Conference game at Gilmour Academy, was unable to turn Jacobs' lead-off double in the sixth into a run.
It didn't come back to haunt the Wildcats, however, as junior southpaw Dan Oaklief, making his first varsity appearance on the mound, was superb in the bottom of the sixth.
“Dan did everything we asked of him,” said Coach Ganor of Oaklief's perfect inning of relief, an effort that included a 6-3 ground out, a strikeout and a fly out to right field. "He threw strikes and limited his pitches, so if need be we can call on him again later in the week. Dan is a kid who does everything that is asked of him.”
Fueled emotionally by the pitching of Pagan and Oaklief, Saint Ignatius closed out its six-hit day by scoring two more times in the top of the seventh.
The 'Cats' fourth and fifth runs came courtesy of a one-out walk to Ruffing, a single by Rowbottom, another RBI grounder to the right side by Horejsei and a two-out, run-scoring single by Kette.
“We've talked to the guys about it and today was a perfect example,” said Coach Ganor of the timely and unselfish at-bats he and hitting coach Matt Blazer '94 were pleased to see on Tuesday. “Look at the job Mike Horejsei did. In the scorebook, they read as a fielder's choice. But each time (slapping the ball to the right side), he got an RBI. Those are quality and unselfish at-bats.”
SAINT IGNATIUS' VARSITY BASEBALL GAME AT OLMSTED FALLS IS POSTPONED.
POSTED ON 4/12/11 AT 1:17 P.M.
FOR THE SIXTH TIME IN ITS PAST 11 SCHEDULED GAMES, THE SAINT IGNATIUS VARSITY BASEBALL TEAM HAS BEEN TOLD TO STAY HOME.
OLMSTED FALLS INFORMED WILDCATS HEAD COACH BRAD GANOR THAT ITS FIELD IS UNPLAYABLE AND THE TEAMS HAVE RESCHEDULED FOR FRIDAY AT THE FALLS. IF THE GAME IS PLAYED ON FRIDAY, IT WILL MATCH THE PROGRAMS WHO MET IN LAST SEASON'S LAKEWOOD DIVISION I DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. THE BULLDOGS PREVAILED THAT WARM MAY NIGHT, 6-5.
WEATHER AND FIELD CONDITIONS PERMITTING, THE WILDCATS (3-2) ARE SCHEDULED TO BE AT GILMOUR ACADEMY ON WEDNESDAY (TOMORROW) FOR A CUYAHOGA RIVER BASEBALL CONFERENCE GAME. THE FIRST PITCH IS SCHEDULED FOR 4:30 P.M.
THE SAINT IGNATIUS AT STRONGSVILLE VARSITY BASEBALL GAME HAS BEEN POSTPONED.
POSTED ON 4/11/11 AT 12:37 P.M.
It is getting to be an all too familiar post.
For the fourth time in its past six scheduled games and the fifth time overall this young season, Saint Ignatius' varsity baseball team has been informed that it will not be playing.
Monday's scheduled game at Strongsville is off because the Mustangs' field is unplayable.
The Wildcats, a.k.a. the area's road warriors, are slated for a game at Olmsted Falls on Tuesday. We'll let you know, one way or the other, around this time tomorrow.
SAINT IGNATIUS' VARSITY BASEBALL RECAP.
POSTED ON 4/9/11.
CLUTCH HITTING BY NEAL JACOBS, MIKE HOREJSEI, JOE GRECO AND TYLER KETTE, AND ANOTHER STRONG PERFORMANCE OUT OF THE BULLPEN BY TIM DONELON HELP LEAD THE 'CATS PAST ARCHBISHOP HOBAN, 7-5, IN THE FIRST GAME OF A DOUBLEHEADER AT HOBAN ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON.
LED BY MIKE RUFFING, DAN ROWBOTTOM, HOREJSEI AND KETTE, SAINT IGNATIUS' OFFENSE STAYS HOT IN THE SECCOND GAME. BUT WALKS, ERRORS AND HIT BATSMEN ARE THE WILDCATS' DOWNFALLS IN A 16-6 LOSS TO TALLMADGE.
THE GAMES WERE MOVED FROM TALLMADGE TO ARCHBISHOP HOBAN BECAUSE THE BLUE DEVILS' FIELD WAS NOT PLAYABLE.
By Eddie Dwyer
Copyright, April 2011
AKRON, OHIO – Saint Ignatius head coach Brad Ganor and assistant coach Josh Bieneman were happy with the Wildcats' offense during Saturday's doubleheader at Archbishop Hoban.
The effort out of the bullpen in the first game by Tim Donelon also gave the coaching staff something to add to the positive column.
However, it was the 'Cats' defense in the second game and overall pitching in both games that were found wanting.
“Tim (Donelon) did a great job in a long-relief situation and the offense in both games swung the bats very well,” said Coach Ganor, after Saint Ignatius defeated the Hoban Knights, 7-5, in the first game and was run-ruled by Tallmadge, 16-6, in the second game.
“In the second game, when you outhit somebody, 10-5, you don't expect to see a 16-6 loss," Coach Ganor continued. "But the old adage of pitching and defense wins championships could not be any more evident right there. Thirteen free bases (ten walks and three hit batsmen) and however many errors we made (four). It's disappointing to be feeling so confident after the first game and then come out and just basically lay an egg. I think it's a gut-check for our team right now.”
The Wildcats, who stand 3-2 heading into Monday's game at highly regarded Strongsville, came out swinging against Hoban and took a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the second inning.
Senior right fielder and Central Michigan recruit Neal Jacobs accounted for the first run with a two-out, line-drive RBI single to center field in the top of the first inning. Saint Ignatius then scord three times in the top of the second, with the big blow being a two-out, two-run single by senior first baseman Mike Horejsei.
Hoban, a member of the highly competitive North Coast League, would come back to tie the score heading into the top of the fourth. A lead-off double by senior first baseman Nate Kunce and a run-scoring triple by sophomore left fielder Aaron Cain highlighted the Knights' two-run second inning, and a double by starting pitcher Matt Gebacz, a bloop single by senior catcher Lukas Sokol and a sacrifice fly by Cain keyed Hoban's two-run third.
The Wildcats went back on top, 5-4, scoring in the top of the fourth off a two-out RBI single by senior left fielder Joe Greco.
Coach Ganor then called on Donelon and the senior right-hander put together his third gutsy relief performance of the young season. Supported by a rare 3-2-5 putout in the bottom of the fourth and a double play that he triggered – 1-6-3 – in the bottom of the sixth, Donelon (2-0) worked four solid innings in relief of starter Zak Shockley.
“Tim did a great job of keeping us in it,” Coach Ganor said. “I wish we didn't have to use him right there and then.”
The 'Cats' offense gave Donelon some breathing room, as senior designated hitter Tyler Kette delivered a two-out single up the middle in the top of the fifth. Kette's clutch effort scored junior second baseman/shortstop Mike Ruffing, who led off the inning with a base hit and stole second with one out.
Saint Ignatius came up with its final run in the top of the sixth by taking advantage of a one-out walk to Greco, a single by junior catcher Ralph Lucarelli, an error and a two-out wild pitch that scored pinch-runner Dan Oaklief from third.
The Wildcats started the second game on a bright note, scoring three times in the top of the first inning.
Ruffing got things started with a single to left-center, Horejsei slapped a one-out base hit through the right side and Kette blasted a two-run triple to deep right-center. Versatile junior center fielder Tim McCoy made it 3-0 by singling through the right side with two outs.
Tallmadge, which was 6-0 heading into Saturday's nightcap against Hoban, answered with a six-run bottom of the first. The highlight of the outburst was a two-out grand slam over the center-field fence by senior right fielder Jamie Lowery.
With two outs and nobody on in the top of the second, Ruffing slapped a 1-2 pitch into left field for a single, sophomore third baseman Dan Rowbottom belted an RBI double and Horejsei came up with a run-scoring single that cut the deficit to 6-5.
The day belonged to the Blue Devils, however, as they responded with a take-charge, seven-run bottom of the second. The 'Cats opened the door by allowing the first two batters to reach on errors and it was an inning that also saw Tallmadge have five runners reach via the dreaded base-on-balls and another take first as a hit batsman.
In what were some positive second-game numbers, Ruffing went 3-for-3, Rowbottom had two doubles and Horejsei also collected two hits.
“It's extremely important that we find a way to bounce back,” said Coach Ganor. “Even though we're only five games in, this could be the turning point of our season. These guys are going to have to find a way to dig deep.”
WILDCATS BASEBALL SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY (TODAY) HAS BEEN REARRANGED!
POSTED ON 4/9/11 AT 8:41 A.M.
SAINT IGNATIUS HEAD BASEBALL COACH BRAD GANOR WAS INFORMED EARLY THIS MORNING THAT HIS TEAM WOULD NOT BE PLAYING A DOUBLEHEADER AT TALLMADGE, AS WAS ORGINALLY SCHEDULED.
INSTEAD, THE 'CATS (2-1) WILL BE PLAYING TWO GAMES AT ARCHBISHOP HOBAN IN AKRON. THE FIRST GAME WILL MATCH SAINT IGNATIUS AGAINST THE HOBAN KNIGHTS AT NOON AND THE SECOND GAME WILL SEND THE WILDCATS AGAINST THE TALLMADGE BLUE DEVILS AT APPROXIMATELY 2 P.M. OR 2:30 P.M., DEPENDING ON HOW LONG IT TAKES TO PLAY THE FIRST GAME.
YES, HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL IN NORTHEAST OHIO, WHERE PATIENCE IS NOT ONLY A VIRTUE, BUT A WAY OF LIFE. ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE A HOME FIELD.
WILDCATS-LANCERS BASEBALL GAME POSTPONED.
POSTED ON 4/5/11 AT 11:24 A.M.
MOTHER NATURE THREW ANOTHER CURVEBALL AT SAINT IGNATIUS' SCHEDULE TODAY, AS THE WILDCATS' CUYAHOGA RIVER BASEBALL CONFERENCE GAME VERSUS GILMOUR ACADEMY AT BOHLKEN PARK HAS BEEN WIPED OUT BY MONDAY NIGHT'S PERSISTENT RAIN.
SAINT IGNATIUS HEAD COACH BRAD GANOR SAID THE GAME HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED FOR APRIL 13TH AT GILMOUR.
SAINT IGNATIUS-ST. EDWARD BASEBALL GAME POSTPONED.
POSTED ON 4/4/11 AT 12:14 P.M.
THE RAIN THAT HIT THE CLEVELAND AREA MONDAY MORNING HAS FORCED THE POSTPONEMENT OF TODAY'S SAINT IGNATIUS VERSUS ST. EDWARD CUYAHOGA RIVER BASEBALL CONFERENCE GAME. THE GAME WAS TO BE PLAYED AT BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE AND NO MAKEUP DATE HAS BEEN DETERMINED.
WEATHER PERMITTING, THE WILDCATS WILL FACE GILMOUR ACADEMY ON TUESDAY AT BOHLKEN PARK IN A CRBC MATCHUP. THE FIRST PITCH IS SCHEDULED FOR 4:30 P.M.
SAINT IGNATIUS-DUBLIN JEROME VARSITY BASEBALL RECAP.
THE WILDCATS AND THE CELTICS SPLIT A DOUBLEHEADER IN FRANKLIN COUNTY, WITH SAINT IGNATIUS WINNING THE FIRST GAME, 13-7, AND DUBLIN JEROME PREVAILING IN THE NIGHTCAP, 10-3.
RALPH LUCARELLI SAYS GOODBYE TO MR. RAWLINGS TWICE DURING A VARSITY DEBUT HE CAN SHARE WITH HIS GRANDCHILDREN SOME DAY.
POSTED ON 4/2/11.
SAINT IGNATIUS' TRACK AND FIELD TEAM CAPTURES FIRST PLACE AT THE TALENT-RICH HILLIARD DAVIDSON MEET (SEE AFTER BASEBALL RECAP).
By Eddie Dwyer
Copyright, April 2011
DUBLIN, OHIO – Saint Ignatius catcher Ralph Lucarelli said it felt really good to get out there, let loose and prove what he can do.
Early Saturday afternoon, in the first game of a doubleheader at Dublin Jerome's first-class baseball facility, Lucarelli let loose on a couple of fastballs and sent them soaring through the cutting winds and blue-gray sky that hovered over Franklin County for most of the day.
Lucarelli's authoritative shots, which sailed over the fence in left field as fast as the sound of aluminum came off his bat, were part of a varsity debut that saw the quite, but amiable junior collect three hits in four at-bats and drive in six runs during the Wildcats' 13-7 victory over the Celtics.
Saint Ignatius, which is now 2-1 after a weather-interrupted opening week, dropped the second game to Jerome, 10-3. It was the Celtics' first victory in four games.
The Wildcats, who were coming off Tuesday's 5-0 victory over St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, found themselves in a 1-1 tie after Jerome's third baseman Mike Parente belted a home home with two outs in the bottom of the second inning. Saint Ignatius starter – 6-foot-4 senior right-hander Marques Pagan – struck out the first five batters he faced, all swinging, before Parente homered.
But just when the Celtics had some momentum, Lucarelli helped fuel the first of the Wildcats' two four-run innings.
With one out in the top of the third, senior right fielder Neal Jacobs walked, stole second and advanced to third when the throw from the catcher sailed into center field. Jacobs scored on a two-out infield hit by junior designated hitter Andrew Piscioneri.
Piscioneri promptly stole second base and 'Cats senior center fielder Joe Greco, who had four quality at-bats (a sacrifice bunt, two walks and an RBI double), drew a walk.
Up stepped Lucarelli.
A young man who is also a linebacker/defensive lineman for Saint Ignatius' football program, Lucarelli abused a first-pitch fastball and sent Mr. Rawlings packing to the tune of a three-run home run.
“I was pretty upset that I left two guys on when I walked in my first at-bat,” Lucarelli said. “A walk's not bad, but I would rather hit them in.”
Ah, now that's a slugger's mentality.
Jerome wasn't about to go away quietly in the first game, as the Celtics came back to tie the score at 5-5 entering the top of the fifth.
However, it was a case of more four-run magic from Lucarelli and Co., an outburst that was started by another Greco walk and the ensuing two-run blast from Lucarelli that took another fastball on a tour of the homes down the left-field line. The 'Cats followed up Lucarelli's thunder with an RBI double by sophomore third baseman Dan Rowbottom and a run-scoring single by senior first baseman Mike Horejsei.
Saint Ignatius pushed its lead to 10-5 in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by senior second basemen Colin Gallagher and Coach Brad Ganor's team took command in the top of the seventh on a two-run double to deep left field by Greco and an RBI single by Lucarelli.
Senior right-hander Tim Donelon, who has battled back from labrum and Tommy John surgeries to become a mainstay in Coach Ganor's bullpen, picked up his first victory as a Wildcat by producing his second strong outing of the young season.
Second Game Recap
Dublin Jerome 10, Saint Ignatius 3.
“You walk away from the first game excited that the bats were rolling a little bit and we were getting the big hits with runners in scoring position and two outs,” said Coach Ganor. “And then our whole approach in the second game was different.
“We did not pitch aggressively and defensively we were tentative. And I don't know how that happened. Fortunately, we don't have to wait a week to play again. We have (defending Division I state champ) St. Eds on Monday (4:30 p.m. at Baldwin-Wallace College), then Gilmour, Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, Tallmadge and Akron Hoban. That's a heck of a week coming up. We'll get them focused and ready to go, and learn from the mistakes we made. That's all we can do.”
After out-hitting Jerome, 14-6, in the first game, the Wildcats manged five hits in the second game to the Celtics' nine.
Jerome was led by junior right-hander Aaron Huesman, who struck out six in going the distance. Huesman also came up with the telling blow – a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth. It was a no-doubter to left-center field. Neal Jacobs also homered in the second game, a towering solo shot that tied the score at 1-1 in the top of the second.
SAINT IGNATIUS AT ST. VINCENT-ST. MARY VARSITY BASEBALL RECAP.
POSTED ON 3/29/11
STARTER CORY FINKLER LEADS ANOTHER STRONG PITCHING PERFORMANCE WITH FOUR DOMINANT INNINGS, AND MIKE LaMANNA AND SCOTT CHASE ARE SOLID IN RELIEF.
A THREE-RUN SECOND INNING HELPS FUEL THE 'CATS' 5-0 VICTORY OVER THE IRISH.
By Eddie Dwyer
Copyright, March-April 2011
Big pitches in big spots.
That is how Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor summed up what was the second outstanding performance by his pitching staff in less than 24 hours.
The Wildcats, behind four strong and savvy innings by senior right-hander Cory Finkler and near flawless efforts in relief by sophomore lefty Mike LaManna and junior right-hander Scott Chase, defeated St. Vincent-St. Mary, 5-0, Tuesday night on SVSM's home field in Patterson Park.
After junior southpaw Zak Shockley and senior right-hander Tim Donelon turned in exceptional performances in Monday's season opener at Walsh Jesuit – 2-2 tie that was suspended after six innings because of darkness – Finkler, LaManna and Chase followed suit.
“Yesterday, the bases loaded and nobody out and today another bases-loaded situation, and both times we get out of it,” said Coach Ganor. “It's early, but you know, the guys are doing a good job. And today it was nice to string a few hits together, move some guys around and be able to do some things offensively running the bases.
“I like to be aggressive and when you have the situations to do it it's nice to be able to put some of those things in place. I just said to the guys, the two toughest wins of the year are the first one and the last one.”
Saint Ignatius, which is seeking what would be an 11th appearance in the Division I state final four and the fourth since 2007, got exactly what veteran pitching coach T.J. Donovan '94 was looking for against the Irish of St. Vincent-St. Mary - a solid start from Finkler, who was working with an early season pitch count, and a close-the-door mentality from the bullpen.
Finkler, a University of Toledo recruit, battled back from a 3-0 count to strike out the lead-off batter in the bottom of the first inning. He made it a 1-2-3 inning by coaxing a 5-3 ground out and recording another strikeout.
After again setting SVSM down in order to end the second inning and winning another 3-0 battle in the process, Finkler was faced with a two-out, bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the third. The amiable co-captain called on his power pitches, his change-up and a nasty breaking ball, and the Irish were out of luck to the tune of Finkler's sixth strikeout.
“It was my first start as a Wildcat, and I was kind of nervous,” said Finkler, who was a catcher, a designated hitter and a relief pitcher last season. “Just being able to focus on pitching this year helped a lot. But coming into the game and getting down 3-0 (to the first batter), I just took a deep breath and relaxed. Later in the game, it felt good having people back me up with defense and good hitting.
“My curveball was doing well and my change up was hitting the spots. I felt like I could get it over the corner and get some ground balls. I think I only missed on one change up.”
Finkler, who was throwing near 92 miles per hour this past summer, limited SVSM to two hits – an infield hit and a bloop single.
Saint Ignatius, which will take to the road again on Thursday with a game at Solon, sent nine batters to the plate in taking a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning.
Senior designated hitter Tyler Kette got the offense started with the first of his two solid base hits and, after senior right fielder and co-captain Neal Jacobs was robbed of at least a single, multi-skilled junior left fielder Tim McCoy delivered a single up the middle for the 'Cats' first run. SVSM also hurt itself in the second inning by committing two key fielding errors.
Saint Ignatius senior first baseman and co-captain Mike Horejsei made the score 4-0 by coming up with a two-out, line-drive single to the gap in left-center in the top of the fourth and the 'Cats' final run came in the fifth inning courtesy of a single by Jacobs, a hit batsman and an RBI single down the third-base line by junior designated hitter/catcher/pinch hitter Andrew Piscioneri.
“Cory Finkler did exactly what we wanted him to do and threw the exact amount of pitches we wanted him to throw,” said Coach Ganor. “And then Mike LaManna, in his first varsity outing, came in and did a real nice job as a sophomore. And Scott (Chase) did a nice job finishing up. I'm very happy for them.”
LaManna, who quarterbacked the Wildcats' junior-varsity football team to an undefeated season, pitched two perfect innings that included three strikeouts and Chase overpowered the Irish in the bottom of the seventh with three more Ks.
Saint Ignatius also benefited from some nice glove work that featured a leaping one-handed grab by senior shortstop Colin Gallagher, a perfectly executed 4-6-3 double play that was started by junior second baseman Mike Ruffing, another rock-solid effort behind the plate by junior catcher Stephen Alexander and the smooth scoops at first base by Horejsei.
MORE GOOD PITCHING ON THE WAY: On the bus ride home from Patterson Park, Coach Ganor reported that the Wildcats' freshman team, behind a combined no-hitter by Shane Skuhrovec and Nick Margevicius, defeated host Olmsted Falls, 8-1, on Tuesday evening. The Bulldogs' run was unearned.
SAINT IGNATIUS-WALSH JESUIT VARSITY BASEBALL RECAP.
POSTED ON 3/28/11
THE WILDCATS AND THE WARRIORS BATTLE TO A 2-2 TIE IN A GAME THAT WAS SUSPENDED AFTER SIX INNINGS BECAUSE OF DARKNESS.
STARTER ZAK SHOCKLEY AND RELIEVER TIM DONELON, THE 'CATS' STUDY IN COURAGE AND PERSEVERANCE, TURN IN SOLID PITCHING PERFORMANCES AND TIM McCOY GOES DEEP IN A SEASON OPENER THAT HAD A PLAYOFF ATMOSPHERE.
By Eddie Dwyer
Copyright, March-April 2011
You could describe Saint Ignatius' season opener as eventful, to say the least.
After all, the bus broke down on the way to the game and all aboard had to wait for a backup bus to come to the rescue.
However, this corner would prefer to focus on what happened after the Wildcats finally arrived at Walsh Jesuit.
The 'Cats and the Warriors, two of the most solid and classiest baseball programs in Ohio, turned in pitching performances that you don't expect to see on an opening day with temperatures hovering anywhere from 25 to 30 degrees.
Unfortunately, not even daylight savings time could prevent what was an intense and well-played game from being suspended after six innings with the score tied, 2-2.
With the sun about to call it a night and Walsh Jesuit Stadium not having lights, the umpires agreed after the fifth inning that the game would go just one more inning.
Saint Ignatius head coach Brad Ganor said the Cuyahoga River Baseball Conference matchup will be resumed at some point this season, possibly during the Ohio Jesuit Tournament on May 7 & 8 at Toledo St. John's Jesuit. Coach Ganor added that he and Warriors veteran skipper Chris Kaczmar will decide on a date.
A bright sun glazed over the infield and outfield when play got under way on Monday. It was a deceiving presence, however, as the heaters in both dugouts were put to a stern test and fans were dressed for a late November football game.
But noting could put a damper on the efforts of the respective pitchers.
Saint Ignatius junior left-hander Zak Shockley, who was 3-0 last season with 33 strikeouts in 18 innings, got the starting call and worked four strong innings.
The 6-foot-5 Shockley showed his grit and moxie in the bottom of the third inning.
Walsh Jesuit, which was 30-2 last season and finished as the Division II state runner-up, had the bases loaded and no outs with the score tied at 2.
Shockley, displaying a composure beyond his years, retired the next three batters on a strikeout, a pop up to senior co-captain and first baseman Mike Horejsei and another strikeout.
Warriors starter – 6-2 senior southpaw Tim Faix – was just as crafty in the four innings he worked. Faix, who is from St. Mary's Parish in Berea, racked up 10 strikeouts, including six in the first two innings.
As good as both Shockley and Faix were, Saint Ignatius' Tim Donelon was even more impressive in the two perfect innings he pitched. Especially when you consider the circumstances.
A senior right-hander who has undergone both Tommy John and labrum surgery, Donelon had not pitched in three years before he took the mound in relief of Shockley early Monday night.
Throwing freely and authoritatively, Donelon set down all six of the batters he faced. Moving the ball around effectively and hitting his spots, he had three strikeouts, induced two ground balls and retired the last batter to face him on a routine pop out in short right field.
Donelon recorded a strikeout to end the fifth and started the bottom of the sixth with two more Ks.
As far as the scoring is concerned, Saint Ignatius took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a lead-off triple by junior second baseman Mike Ruffing and a two-out passed ball.
Walsh Jesuit responded with a two-out, two-run double by junior third baseman Anthony Nemer that dropped in behind the center fielder in the bottom of the first.
The Wildcats, who travel to Patterson Park in Akron tomorrow (Tuesday) to face St. Vincent-St. Mary in a CRBC game, tied the score in the top of the second on a one-out home run over the right-field fence by gifted junior left fielder Tim McCoy.
Saint Ignatius was threatening in the sixth, as senior right fielder and co-captain Neal Jacobs led off with a single to right field and McCoy followed with a base hit to left.
But with two on and no outs, the Wildcats couldn't execute a sacrifice bunt and Warriors junior left-hander Mike Marsinek closed the door on a strikeout and a double play.
“All in all, considering the elements and everything else, I'm pretty happy with how we pitched,” said Coach Ganor. “I think it's two pretty evenly matched teams. They have their guys on the mound and we have our guys on the mound. Our lineup versus their lineup is probably pretty even and the score was evident of that. And I think even the hits were tied, 5-5.
“I felt like the strikeouts were mounting, but I also felt like we had opportunities to score,” Coach Ganor continued. “It isn't like he (Faix) was dominating us. We seemed to have runners on in every inning. But first and second and nobody out, we have to execute that bunt.”
POSTED ON SUNDAY, 3/27/11.
SAINT IGNATIUS IS SET FOR ITS SEASON OPENER ON MONDAY (TOMORROW) AT WALSH JESUIT. THE FIRST PITCH IS SCHEDULED FOR 4:30 P.M.
BRING EXTRA BLANKETS, SOME COFFEE OR HOT CHOCOLATE AND WATCH TWO OF THE PREMIER JESUIT SCHOOLS IN THE NATION OPEN THE 2011 SEASON IN A CUYAHOGA RIVER BASEBALL CONFERENCE MATCHUP.
UNDER THE DIRECTION OF COACH CHRIS KACZMAR, THE WALSH WARRIORS FINISHED 30-2 LAST SEASON AFTER A TOUGH 3-2 LOSS TO PLAIN CITY JONATHAN ALDER IN THE DIVISION II STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. COACH KACZMAR HAS GUIDED THE WARRIORS TO FOUR DIVISION II STATE CROWNS – 2008, '06, '04 AND 1999 – AND TWO STATE RUNNER-UP FINISHES, 2010 AND '09.
COACH BRAD GANOR'S WILDCATS WERE 20-7 LAST SPRING, LOSING TO EVENTUAL STATE SEMIFINALIST OLMSTED FALLS, 6-5, IN THE DIVISION I DISTRICT FINALS. THE 'CATS HAVE MADE 10 STATE FINAL FOUR APPEARANCES IN BASEBALL, INCLUDING NINE SINCE 1993. SAINT IGNATIUS BROUGHT HOME THE DIVISION I STATE CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHY IN 2002 AND WAS A BIG-SCHOOL STATE RUNNER-UP IN 2000 AND 2008. COACH GANOR'S WILDCATS SET A SCHOOL RECORD BY MAKING THREE CONSECUTIVE FINAL FOUR APPEARANCES – 2007, '08 AND '09.
LET'S HOPE SOME BRISK WEATHER DOESN'T INFLUENCE A POSTPONEMENT.
NOTE: FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE INQUIRED, THE WILDCATS' VARSITY BASEBALL PREVIEW WAS POSTED ON 3/21/11.
- Eddie Dwyer
SAINT IGNATIUS' 2011 VARSITY BASEBALL PREVIEW.
POSTED ON THE MORNING OF 3/21/11.
A NICE BLEND OF YOUTH AND EXPERIENCE WILL BE CAPTAINED BY SENIORS MIKE HOREJSEI, NEAL JACOBS, CORY FINKLER AND MARQUES PAGAN.
COACH GANOR SEES THE 2011 'CATS AS BEING A TALENTED CLUB OFFENSIVELY, ONE THROUGH NINE.
AN APRIL 4th GAME AGAINST DEFENDING DIVISION I STATE CHAMPION ST. EDWARD AT BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE, A MAY 6th MATCHUP WITH BRUNSWICK AT PROGRESSIVE FIELD AND THE ANNUAL OHIO JESUIT TOURNAMENT ON MAY 7 & 8 AT TOLEDO ST. JOHN'S JESUIT ARE AMONG THE MANY HIGHLIGHTS OF WHAT IS ANOTHER DEMANDING REGULAR-SEASON SCHEDULE.
By Eddie Dwyer
Copyright, March 2011
It is what every baseball coach at every level loves to see – a group of big-game tested players and “rookies,” if you will, growing into a formidable team.
At Saint Ignatius, where the seeds of success are planted during the first day of indoor practice, that could be the story that blossoms this spring.
The 2011 Wildcats, who are looking to erase the memory that accompanied Saint Ignatius out of Lakewood Stadium on May 20th of last season, appear to have enough talented veterans to complement what is definitely a promising group of underclassmen.
“I'm sure these guys are disappointed with the outcome of last year,” said Saint Ignatius head coach Brad Ganor, referring to his seniors and the 6-5 loss to Olmsted Falls they experienced as juniors in the Lakewood Division I district championship game. “But, it's tough to make it to the final four every year and we set a standard that is pretty high. They're aware of that and they want to redeem themselves and prove they're a special class.”
The Wildcats, who set a school record by making three consecutive appearances in the state baseball final four, 2007, '08 and '09, have advanced to either the state semifinals or finals 10 times. They have made nine final-four trips since 1993. Coach Ganor, who enters his seventh season as the 'Cats' skipper, not only guided the three consecutive final-four teams, but was an assistant coach on Saint Ignatius' state championship team of 2002. The Wildcats were state runners-up in 2000 and 2008.
Coach Ganor has a career record of 139-40 and has honed the skills of 36 players who have earned the opportunity to play college baseball, including 25 at the major-college level. Although the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately fans will focus on the lost to eventual state-semifinalist Olmsted Falls, Ganor's club was 20-7 last year.
“Our team, one through nine, is more talented offensively than we were last year,” Coach Ganor said. “The expectations, even with the younger guys, are high. But I think they are going to be able to produce. And these seniors should have a little chip on their shoulders.”
Coach Ganor was referring to the fact that the seniors have heard since day one of the 2010-11 school year that they are not a strong class athletically.
“No matter what your record is or your outcome, you're a member of the Saint Ignatius graduating class of 2011, which is going to carry a lot more weight 30 years from now than sectional, district, regional or state championships. Hopefully, they realize that. I hope they do.
“They're a close-knit bunch. As far as the chemistry, you can already tell in preseason that they are ready to go.”
Leading Saint Ignatius' seniors this spring will be right fielder and Central Michigan recruit Neal Jacobs, middle infielder Colin Gallagher, first baseman Mike Horejsei, center fielder and Flagler College recruit Joe Greco, designated hitter Tyler Kette and right-handed pitchers Cory Finkler and Marques Pagan. The 6-foot-3 Finkler, a Toldeo recruit, and the 6-5 Pagan will be counted on at the top of the rotation.
Jacobs was a second-team All-Cuyahoga River Baseball Conference selection last season and also was voted by the coaches as the Wildcats' co-Offensive Player of the Year. In 26 games, Jacobs batted .407 with 33 hits, three doubles, a team-leading seven home runs and 27 runs batted in, which were second-best on the team. Jacobs, who has a strong and accurate throwing arm, sent Mr. Rawlings on some of the most majestic trips this old-timer has ever seen on the high-school level.
Horejsei, a slick fielder who hit .325 last season with nine doubles, and Gallagher, who can play second base, shortstop and third base, garnered Honorable Mention on last year's All-CRBC team. Gallagher was chosen by the coaches as the 'Cats' Defensive Player of the Year last spring and Horejsei, who hasn't pitched in two years, has the kind of stuff and the bulldog mentality that could be a huge addition to the back end of the bullpen if needed.
Coach Ganor's starting rotation will be led by 6-5 junior southpaw Zak Shockley. Shockley, who was called up to the varsity in '09, was 3-0 last year with 33 strikeouts in 18 innings. Weather permitting, Shockley will get the call in the season opener at Walsh Jesuit on March 28.
Among some of the other juniors to watch are Tim McCoy, described by Coach Ganor as a fantastic outfielder with a huge arm and a strong bat, middle infielder Mike Ruffing, whose bat and glove are more than capable, and heady catchers Stephen Alexander and Ralph Lucarelli.
Coach Ganor said sophomore lefty Mike LaManna, a standout quarterback on the undefeated junior-varsity football team this past fall, could help on the mound as a possible rotation guy and that sophomore Dan Rowbottom is expected to solidify the third-base position.
Rowbottom is described by Coach Ganor as having a tremendous upside, especially offensively. Ganor added that when Rowbottom hits the baseball, he (Coach Ganor) has the same reaction he did when former Wildcat All-American Derek Dietrich '07 swung the aluminum for Saint Ignatius. Dietrich went on to an outstanding career at Georgia Tech and was drafted in the second round by the Tampa Bay Rays last June.
HOW THEY SEE IT:
Zak Shockley: “I have definitely been working on getting the miles per hour up (from the lower 80s to the middle and high 80s) and preparing for a lot more innings this year.”
Mike Horejsei: “Whatever I can do to help the team, no matter where I am in the order. I just want to go out there and compete. Growing up, everybody said I would never play first base for Saint Ignatius, that I was undersized (Horejsei stands 5-11). Well, Coach Ganor wanted me at first and for the most part it's worked out well. And I hope to continue it this year.”
Neal Jacobs: “I wanted to get stronger, but still stay pretty fast. My main focus this year is making more contact with the ball and not chasing as many pitches. You know, improve the batter's eye.”
THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, AND WHERE HE'S AT: “Well, we're looking real good in the gym,” said a smiling Coach Ganor, when asked to sum up his 2011 'Cats.
LAST SEASON FOR THE CRBC??: With University School moving to the Premier Athletic Conference two seasons ago and Walsh Jesuit and Benedictine slated to join the North Coast League in the 2011-12 school year, you have to wonder what is going to happen to the talent-rich Cuyahoga River Baseball Conference, a circuit that sent four teams – Saint Ignatius, St. Edward, Gilmour Academy and Walsh Jesuit – to the state final four in 2008 and produced two state champions that year in St. Edward and Walsh Jesuit. The CRBC will be down to four teams (including St. Vincent-St. Mary) once Walsh and Benedictine depart.
BACK IN THE DUGOUT: Returning to assist Coach Ganor this season are pitching coach T. J. Donovan '94, hitting instructor and outfielders coach Matt Blazer '94 and catchers coach Josh Bieneman.