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Kevin Mingus drives home the game-winning run with a two-out line drive to the gap in left-center field in the bottom of the 10th inning and the Baseball Cats celebrate their fifth consecutive victory, 3-2 over a very capable Eastlake North team
5/6/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit May 2016

FROM CLASSIC PARK, THE HOME OF THE LAKE COUNTY CAPTAINS AND, ALONG WITH BALDWIN WALLACE UNIVERSITY'S FISHER FIELD, ONE OF SAINT IGNATIUS' TWO HOMES.

In what was a highly competitive and well-played high school baseball game, Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats rode Kevin Mingus' game-winner in the bottom of the 10th to their 13th victory in the past 15 games. High School games are seven innings.

Thursday evening's matchup with the Eastlake North Rangers under the clouds and blue sky at atmosphere-rich Classic Park was played in two hours and 27 minutes. No one in attendance was complaining , however, after Saint Ignatius and North left it all on the majestic Classic Park diamond.

Simply put, my friends, North is a stronger team than its nine victories would indicate.

The Cats, who now stand 14-8, will ride a five-game winning streak into Friday's 6:30 PM matchup with Avon at The Pipe Yard Classic in Lorain County. Avon is the top seed for the Lorain County Division I District.

Coach Ganor will send his ace, junior southpaw and Louisville recruit Connor Adams, to the mound on Friday evening in The Pipe Yard.

Yes, you can say Thursday night's heart-pounder at Classic Park was "just a regular season game." But then that's the beauty of high school athletics, where pride, respect and a desire to succeed for your school take precedence.

Saint Ignatius, a Division I State Semifinalist last season, grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

Senior right-hander Nick Freund, Thursday's starter for Saint Ignatius, led off the bottom of the first by drawing a walk. Nick then stole second base.

With one out, Nick advanced to third on a pitch in the dirt and, after senior third baseman Dennis Grosel was hit by a pitch, Nick scored the game's first run when the Rangers were unable to complete what would have been an inning-ending double play.

North, who despite its under .500 record is still considered a "team to watch" by The News Herald's outstanding high school staff, moved to a 2-1 lead in the top of the second inning.

The key swings for the Rangers were provided by right fielder Steven Davies, third baseman/pitcher David Kalinowski, second baseman Danny Ward, left fielder Kenny Uzarevic and shortstop Jacob Arrison. Ward tied the game on a one-out single, Uzairavec came up with a clutch two-out single, and Arrison followed with the base hit that put his team ahead, 2-1.

What might have gone unnoticed to the novice fan were the exceptional relay throws from the outfield by Cats gifted junior right fielder/left fielder Ryan Jacobs and rock-steady senior center fielder Mike Rogers, efforts that possibly prevented two more runs for North in the top of the second. 

Jacobs and senior left fielder Dan Volpe also made key running catches in the top of the fourth inning that kept it a 2-1 game. Dan was coming off a performance at Valley Forge on Wednesday that saw him belt two home runs and deliver five RBI.

Saint Ignatius, which is seeded an underrated third for the Strongsville Division I District, knotted the score at 2 in the bottom of the fifth.

Senior John Robinson, who also delivered a "touch 'em all time" blast at Valley Forge, led off the bottom of the fifth as a pinch hitter and took one for the team. Baseball savvy junior infielder Joe Gutbrod, running for Robinson, promptly stole second base and Volpe laid down a bunt that he beat out for a hit, putting runners on first and third with no outs.

After a 1-3 putout by the Rangers, senior second baseman Joe Evans stepped to the plate and executed a suicide -squeeze bunt that tied the score. Joe continues to have a solid, solid season.

North got out of the fifth without any further damage and both teams had the pitching and defensive answers through the next 4 1/2 scoreless innings.

After the 1-2-3 top of the 10th inning, which was highlighted by running catches from Jacobs and Rogers, the stage was set for the humble, but oh so talented Mingus.

Mingus greeted left-center field with an authoritative two-out shot that scored Evans with the winning run. Evans led off the bottom of the 10th with a walk, beat out a run-down throw to second base and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Dennis Grosel.

Dennis Grosel also turned in a web gem for Coach Ganor in the top of the eighth by making a diving catch off  an attempted sacrifice bunt, getting up and flipping the ball to his brother Tommy to complete a double play. Tommy Grosel is a sophomore first baseman/left-handed pitcher.

Not only did the Cats play another errorless game, but they benefitted from gritty efforts on the mound by Freund and junior right-handed reliever/starter Griffin Hunt.

Freund, who earned Saint Ignatius' Athlete of the Week honor for his no-hitter versus Archbishop Hoban last week, worked five complete innings before moving to right field. Nick yielded 2 runs on 7 hits, struck out 2 and walked 3. He threw 79 pitches, 47 of which were strikes.

Hunt, who picked up the victory with five shutout innings, yielded just 1 hit, struck out 3 and walked 2. Griffin threw 62 pitches, 36 of which were strikes.

Griffin also made history on Thursday evening by throwing a 1-2-3 top of the ninth that required JUST 3 PITCHES.

It was the first 3-pitch inning in Coach Ganor's 18 years as a coach at Saint Ignatius, including his 12 years as Saint Ignatius' Head Coach. Hunt was greeted by an excited Coach Ganor and the rest of the Cats as he was making his way to the home dugout in Classic Park following the top of the ninth.

FROM COACH GANOR: "They're better than whatever their record said," said Coach Ganor of the North Rangers. "A walk-off win, what's better than that?

"We almost had one last week in Nick's no-hitter, he had four pitches in an inning I think," Coach Ganor continued in reference to Hunt's three-pitch effort. "Griffin did a great job and Nick did a great job battling and holding it down. We needed him to go deep in the game because of the number of games this week (six in six days).

"And Kevin Mingus hitting the ball like a senior," Coach Ganor said. "Two seniors, Joe Evans and Kevin Mingus, coming up with the big plays."

The official line scores on the game were 2 runs, 8 hits and 2 errors for North, and 3 runs, 8 hits and 0 errors for Saint Ignatius.

NOTE: Here is a corner's view of the Avon Eagles, Saint Ignatius' opponent in Friday evening's Pipe Yard Classic in Lorain County.

As we mentioned in the early paragraphs of tonight's Eastlake North game story, Avon is the top seed for the Lorain Division I District Tournament.

Under Head Coach Frank DeSmit, the Eagles have reached the District finals four times. However, none of those four District-final appearances produced a trip to the Regional semifinals.

Avon is ranked fifth in The Morning Journal's weekly Top of the Crop. The Morning Journal's top four teams are Vermilion, Elyria Catholic, Midview and Westlake.

Among the Eagles to keep an eye on are Ethan St. Clair, Logan Doenges, Shane Docherty and Jeff Laraway.

Doenges entered this week with 43 strikeouts on the mound and is also a capable hitter. Docherty has contributed as both a starting pitcher and a strong arm out of the bullpen, Laraway is a heady athlete and the versatile St. Clair took a .542 batting average into this week with 32 hits, 12 stolen bases and 21 runs scored.

 

Saint Ignatius Varsity Baseball bangs out 18 hits, including two home run runs by senior outfielder Dan Volpe and a round-tripper by senior catcher John Robinson, in Wednesday evening's 16-5 victory over Valley Forge on the Patriots' home field
5/4/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit May 2016

Parma Heights, Ohio - After finding out this afternoon that Wednesday's game was moved from Ron Mottl Field on the campus of Cuyahoga Community College-West to Valley Forge High School, the Baseball Cats were more than happy to take their act across the street from Tri-C to the home field of the Patriots.

While the baseball facility that sits behind Valley Forge High School isn't quite as nice as Ron Mottl Field, it has a tradition that has seen it host some of the finest high school baseball teams and players ever to lace up a pair of spikes in Greater Cleveland.

Coach Brad Ganor's 2016 Wildcats brought back some memories of those teams late Wednesday afternoon and early evening, as they rode a potent offense to a 16-5 victory over the Patriots.

Saint  Ignatius, behind an 18-hit attack, improved to 13-8, stretched its winning streak to four and has now won 12 of its last 14 games.

With Coach Ganor utilizing a lineup that featured several non-starters, Saint Ignatius struck with four runs in the top of the first inning and added three more tallies in the top of the second in route to an early 7-0 lead.

The big blows in the first inning were run-scoring singles by senior catcher John Robinson, senior center fielder Mike Rogers, junior first baseman Christion Ramos and senior left fielder Dan Volpe.

Junior outfielder Ryan Jacobs got things started in the top of the second inning with his hot bat, as Ryan belted a ground-rule double that bounced over the fence in left field. It was Jacobs' fourth double in three days.

After a walk to senior designated hitter Dennis Grosel, Jacobs scored off an errant pick-off attempt at second base and Robinson followed with a two-run blast over the fence in left-center field that made it a 7-0 game.

Valley Forge, under the direction of former St. Peter Chanel All-Ohio baseball and basketball standout Izzy Santiago, got back in the game by scoring three times in the bottom of the third inning after there were two outs and the bases empty.

Sophomore shortstop Brendan Santiago, Izzy's son, got the Patriots' offense started with a base hit to right field. Junior center fielder Taylor Pupkiewicz then singled through the left side and a walk to freshman first baseman Drew Birch loaded the bases.

Valley Forge followed with a run-scoring single through the left side by freshman second baseman Dylan Magda, a bases-loaded walk to junior designated hitter Shane Sullivan and cut the deficit to 7-3 on a bases-loaded wild pitch.

Coach Santiago, who is also one of the top basketball officials in Northeast Ohio, watched his Patriots make it a 7-4 game in the bottom of the fourth behind a lead-off walk by senior catcher Jeremy Kubes, a stolen base by Kubes and a two-out RBI single by Brendan Santiago.

Just when the Valley Forge faithful were back in the game, it was Katy Bar the Door.

Coach Ganor's Wildcats would score nine runs over the next three innings in taking total command, including four runs in the top of the fifth.

First it was Volpe with the first of his two home runs on the evening, a solo shot over the center field fence, and after gritty junior infielder Joe Gutbrod drew a walk and stole second base, junior pitcher/outfielder Danny Adler laced a run-scoring double to the gap in left-center field.

The other key hits in the top of the fifth were an RBI single by standout senior infielder/designated hitter George Asadorian and a single by the Cats' junior left-handed pitching ace Connor Adams, a Louisville recruit. Connor saw some time in left field on Wednesday.

Saint Ignatius' two-run sixth was highlighted by a single from Volpe that came with two outs and the bases empty, another excellent at-bat by Gutbrod that resulted in a walk, a wild pitch, a slow chopper to the left side off the bat of Adler that scored the Cats' 12th run, and a run-scoring single by George Asadorian.

Coach Ganor and his staff watched their team close out an 18-hit evening with a three-run top of the seventh that included an infield single by Adams, a sharp single up the middle from junior infielder/outfielder Alec Guy, a walk to promising junior infielder/pitcher Erik Demchuk and the seal on Volpe's five-RBI night, a three-run home run by Dan that accounted for runs 14, 15 and 16.

Valley Forge scored its fifth and final run of the game in the bottom of the seventh off base hits from Pupkiewicz and Birch, a walk and a fielder's choice. The Patriots, who could meet the Wildcats again in a May 12th OHSAA Division I Sectional Final, are now 4-17.

The line scores on the game were 16 runs, 18 hits and 1 error for Saint Ignatius, and 5 runs, 7 hits and 3 errors for Valley Forge.

FROM WILDCATS VETERAN ASSISTANT COACH MARK TERLEP

"Yes, a great offensive day and the nice thing is that it was from other guys who haven't seen a lot of opportunities," said Mark. "They got some at-bats and took advantage of it.

"A guy like Danny Volpe, I couldn't be happier for a guy like that," Mark continued. "And Alec Guy comes off the bench, sees one pitch and drives it up the middle.

"Get an opportunity and take advantage of it. It's a like I said, Danny Volpe's getting a headline today."

UP NEXT: The Cats will continue their six games in six days week on Thursday with a 5 PM first pitch versus the Rangers from Eastlake North at Classic Park.

      

 

Braydon Nelson pitches another gem, the Cats are solid defensively and put together some timely hits in defeating one of Ohio's best, the Canton Central Catholic Crusaders, 5-0, at Classic Park on Tuesday evening
5/4/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit May 2016

Lake County - You can now make it three consecutive impressive performances for Saint Ignatius' gifted 6-foot-4, 200-pound junior right-hander Braydon Nelson.

Nelson, riding what he described as a live fastball, controlled Ohio's defending Division III state baseball champion Canton Central Catholic on a three-hit shutout, 5-0, Tuesday evening under a blue sky and a majestic setting sun in Classic Park, the home of the Lake County Captains.

Classic Park is also one of the Wildcats' two home fields, along with Fisher Field on the campus of Baldwin Wallace University.

Nelson, who is as soft spoken and humble as he is talented, made himself at home Tuesday on the same mound where he picked up his first Varsity career victory with five strong innings against the Mentor Cardinals on April 20th.

In throwing his second consecutive shutout and improving to 3-0 on the year, the big righty went the distance with just 67 pitches in seven innings, 42 of which were strikes. Nelson had two strikeouts and one base on balls, as he consistently had the Crusaders beating the ball into the ground.

Saint Ignatius' defense was superb for the second evening in a row. The Cats' infield of senior third baseman/Captain Dennis Grosel, senior shortstop Kevin Mingus, senior second baseman Joe Evans and sophomore first baseman Tommy Grosel, Dennis' brother, made play after play behind Nelson.

Dennis and Tommy Grosel combined on three highlight-reel 5-3 plays in the top of the second, fifth and seventh innings, efforts that helped the Wildcats hand Canton Central Catholic just its third loss in 20 games this spring.

Coach Brad Ganor's Cats, winners of three straight and 11 of their past 13 games, now stand 12-8 heading into Wednesday's game versus the Valley Forge Patriots at Ron Mottl Field on the campus of Cuyahoga Community College-West. Tommy Grosel, who doubles as a smooth first baseman/left-handed pitcher, will take the mound at Tri-C for the 4:30 PM first pitch. Note that the starting time is what Valley Forge, the home team, has posted. Better early than late.

As for Saint Ignatius' offense, which totaled nine hits in route to its five runs, the Cats took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning after there were two outs and the bases empty.

Junior left fielder Ryan Jacobs, who continues to swing an authoritative bat, drove a 3-2 pitch into deep left field for a double to start the offense in the second inning. Ryan had two doubles in Monday evening's 2-0 victory over Brunswick at Baldwin Wallace University.

Senior center fielder/Captain Mike Rogers followed Jacobs' blast by drawing a walk and Tommy Grosel delivered an RBI single to center field.

Saint Ignatius gave Nelson a nice cushion to work with by scoring three times in the bottom of the fourth inning.

The left-handed hitting Dennis Grosel, a first-team Division I All-Ohio quarterback this past fall, went the opposite way for a base hit in leading off the bottom of the fourth.

Senior designated hitter John Robinson then drew a walk and senior shortstop Kevin Mingus ripped a single through the left side for an RBI and a 2-0 lead. Kevin's key hit scored senior outfielder Dan Volpe, who was a courtesy runner for Dennis Grosel.

The Cats' runners moved up to second and third when the throw home off Mingus' single bounced away from the catcher.

The versatile Jacobs then stepped to the plate and laid down a perfect bunt that scored junior infielder Joe Gutbrod from third base. Joe was the courtesy runner for John Robinson. An errant pick-off attempt followed and Saint Ignatius led, 4-0, entering the top of the fifth.

Preventing the Cats from doing even further damage in the bottom of the fourth was an outstanding running catch in right-center field by Crusaders senior center fielder JC Colangelo to end the inning.

Coach Ganor's club closed out the scoring in the bottom of the sixth on a lead-off triple by Rogers that flirted with The News-Herald sign in deep right field and a one-out RBI single by promising sophomore catcher Drew Asadorian.

After yielding a two-out, bases-empty single in the top of the seventh to Central Catholic junior second baseman Cameron Ruffin, Nelson ended the game with a strikeout. Ruffin broke up Nelson's no-hit bid with a two-out, bases-empty single in the top of the fifth. The Crusaders' other hit on the evening came off a one-out single by junior pitcher Quinton Heck in the top of the sixth.

"I guess after Nick's (senior right-hander/right fielder Nick Freund) no-hitter last week (versus Archbishop Hoban) I was feeling that Braydon was on his way today, but the baseball gods didn't allow it," said Coach Ganor. "All in all, a great all-around game. Timely hitting and great defense, with all four (of the infielders) making great plays. Picking each other up on a bad throw and making good throws. But the day goes to Braydon Nelson. Sixty seven pitches in seven innings, that's pretty good."

Coach Ganor was also quick to point out the outstanding job Drew Asadorian did behind the plate in calling the entire game for Nelson. "He called every single pitch, beginning to end," Coach Ganor said. "I like that from a sophomore. We have confidence in Drew to do that and Braydon believes in the sequence he was calling. That's great stuff."

Coach Ganor also praised Canton Central Catholic's legendary Head Coach Doug Miller, saying that Coach Miller represents all that is good about baseball.

"He is a man I have looked up to for a long time," Coach Ganor emphasized. "I mean that guy is a special, special person. I know his players will rally for him in the tournament. It's no wonder that he has 700 wins and has spent 37 years (teaching and coaching) at one school. I can only dream that I would have a fraction of that type of career at Saint Ignatius. He's definitely a role model for young coaches and will certainly be missed."

Coach Miller, who this corner emphasized in my preview look at the Canton Central Catholic-Saint Ignatius matchup, is a great coach and even a greater person. He is expected to retire at the end of this school year. Along with the amazing 700 victories, Coach Miller has guided his Crusaders to three state championships, two state runner-up finishes, six regional tiles and 12 district championships.

Unless Mother Nature throws us a curve, we'll see you at one of my old homes away from home on Wednesday, Ron Mottl Field. The Patriots of Valley Forge entered this week with a record of 4-15.

If Wednesday's game is played, it could be the first of two meetings between the Cats and the Pats in nine days.

Saint Ignatius is scheduled to face the winner of the Division I OHSAA Sectional Semifinal Game between Garfield Heights and Valley Forge on May 12 in a Sectional Final.  

         

   

 

Saint Ignatius, behind the right arm of Murphy O'Brien and a two-run fourth inning that was fueled by Kevin Mingus, Ryan Jacobs, Tommy Grosel and Drew Asadorian, defeated the visiting Brunswick Blue Devils, 2-0, on Monday evening
5/3/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit May 2016

Berea, Ohio - "Efficient" was the word Saint Ignatius' outstanding Head Baseball Coach Brad Ganor used in describing the effort Wildcats gifted senior right-hander Murphy O'Brien put forth on Monday evening at baseball-rich Fisher Field on the campus of Baldwin Wallace University.

O'Brien, a St. Bonaventure University recruit, was both productive and tough-minded when he needed to be in pitching the Cats past a Brunswick team that now stands a deceiving 6-12 on the season The Blue Devils have some young faces this year, but faces with promising talent written all over them.

In helping his team improve to 11-8 and presenting Coach Ganor with his 260th career victory, O'Brien evened his record at 2-2 by throwing six complete shutout innings in Saint Ignatius' 2-0 victory. "Murph" fired 90 pitches to the plate, 51 of which were strikes, yielded three hits, struck out five and walked two.

The Wildcats, who supported O'Brien with an errorless performance in the field, scored all of the runs they needed in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Senior shortstop Kevin Mingus started the bottom of the fourth by ripping a single to left field. Endless-potential junior outfielder Ryan Jacobs then laced a double past the third-base bag and down the line, and Saint Ignatius was in business with runners on second and third and no outs. It was the first of two doubles on the evening by Jacobs.

After senior center fielder/relief ace Mike Rogers drew a walk that loaded the bases, sophomore first baseman Tommy Grosel drove the ball to deep center field for a sacrifice fly and the first of the game's two runs.

Remember the name Tommy Grosel, my friends. Tommy, who handles first base in a near flawless fashion and doubles as a left-handed pitcher, plays the game with a maturity beyond his years.

After Jacobs tagged up and went to third on Tommy Grosel's sacrifice fly, catcher Drew Asadorian, another sophomore who brings savvy, skill and leadership behind the plate, laid down a perfectly executed bunt to the right side that made it a 2-0 game.

Rogers came on in the top of the seventh inning and closed it out for his fourth save on the season. Mike threw a 1-2-3 seventh of two ground outs and a strikeout. He fired 10 pitches, seven of which were strikes.

Along with Jacobs' two doubles, the Cats got a pair of singles from both Mingus and senior third baseman Dennis Grosel, Tommy's brother, and a sharp single up the middle from senior designated hitter/catcher John Robinson in leading off the bottom of the second inning.

The line scores on the game were 2 runs, 7 hits and 0 errors for Saint Ignatius, and 0 runs, 3 hits and 2 errors for Brunswick.

As for the Cats' errorless day, the leather was flashed early when senior second baseman Joe Evans, who is having a solid spring, dove to his left off a hard liner that had base hit written all over it, came up with the ball on the edge of the right field grass and fired to first base to end the top of the first inning.  

FROM COACH GANOR ON MONDAY EVENING'S VICTORY OVER BRUNSWICK

"I thought Murphy did a real nice job today, real efficient," said Coach Ganor of his senior right-hander, who became a starter this season after saving a school-record 10 games out of the bullpen on last year's Division I state final four team. "We talked after his last start about getting through the fifth inning. He had been getting to the fifth inning and we really challenged him in his work leading up to today to work on getting himself in position to get through the fifth inning.

"I thought today he looked as strong in the fifth inning as he did in the second inning," Coach Ganor said. "That's a great sign moving forward because we want to throw him through five innings.

"The defense played very solid today," continued Coach Ganor. "If that ball gets through, who knows? It could be a different ball game (Joe Evans' defensive tone-setter in the top of the first inning). Drew (Asadorian) did a real nice job behind the plate working with 'Murph.' (O'Brien) and he executed the safety squeeze. Tommy (Grosel) came up with a real nice RBI by not trying to do too much. Just hit a fly ball and score a run. That's high school baseball."

UP NEXT: The storied Crusaders from Canton Central Catholic on Tuesday at 5 PM in Classic Park. Junior right-hander Braydon Nelson (2-0) will take the mound for Coach Ganor.

The Crusaders from Canton Central Catholic are under the direction of 34-year Head Coach and Hall of Famer Doug Miller. Coach Miller is not only one of the finest coaches in the history of Ohio High School Baseball, but a man who epitomizes class.

Last week, Coach Miller's Crusaders presented him with his 700th career victory. Canton Central Catholic is the defending Division III State Champion. Along with three state titles, Coach Miller has guided the Crusaders to two state runner-up finishes, six Regional titles and 12 District Championships.

The Crusaders entered this week with a record of 17-2 and are ranked fifth in the latest Division III state poll by the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association. Saint Ignatius is in a three-way tie for 16th with Solon and Lebanon in the OHSBCA Division I state rankings. Those Division I rankings don't even have the Cats' record listed, so take it for what it's worth.

Canton Central Catholic, which finished 26-7-1 in its championship season of 2015 (the Crusaders play a schedule laden with Division I and II teams), are coming off a 3-0 loss to Massillon Jackson on Saturday at Doug Miller Field. The Jackson Polar Bears are currently 17-0 and ranked No. 1 in the OHSBCA Division I rankings. Jackson brought home the Division I State Baseball Championship in 2014.  

Saint Ignatius traveled to Jackson's outstanding baseball facility on a cold, snow flurries Friday evening on April 8th and, in a game that had the atmosphere and intensity of a State Final Four matchup, was turned away by the Polar Bears, 3-2.

Canton Central Catholic is led by its 1-2 pitching punch of Clay Davies and Jake Vance. Vance is an Ohio State recruit. Davies, a senior right-hander, pitched seven strong innings in the loss to Jackson and experienced his first setback in six decisions this season.

Note: The outstanding high school sports staff at the Canton Repository has reported that this season will be Coach Miller's last at Canton Central Catholic. Coach Miller also serves as the Crusaders' Athletic Director.

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Rafi Asadorian, who in 1986 pitched one of the 17 no-hitters in Cats Baseball history, is a cousin of current Saint Ignatius mainstays George and Drew Asadorian. George is a standout senior hitter/infielder and you can read about Drew's skills in the game story above.

Rafi, said George and Drew, is a CFO who is currently living in California.

A FAMILIAR NAME: On the Brunswick Coaching Staff is former Berea High School (now Berea-Midpark) Baseball mainstay Paul Moviel. Paul not only excelled on the mound for the then Berea Braves, he could also swing the bat with the best of them.

Paul is the older brother of former area pitching standouts Greg (Saint Ignatius) and Scott Moviel (St. Edward). The big lefty Greg Moviel, in this seasoned reporter's humble opinion, is not only the greatest pitcher in Saint Ignatius' baseball history, but the best big-game pitcher this corner ever had the privilege to cover and report on. Greg's 36-1 career record at Saint Ignatius will support that. Oh no, Mike Buddie will never speak to me again.

You can find out everything you want to know about Scott Moviel from Saint Ignatius' current Assistant Coach John Whelan, who was Scott's Head Coach at St. Edward.                        

 

Saint Ignatius Baseball is seeded third for the Strongsville Division I Sectional/District
5/1/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit May 2016

Sunday's voting order for the seeding at Strongsville went 1. St. Edward, 2. Strongsville, 3. Saint Ignatius, 4. Lakewood.

The Wildcats (10-8) will open their OHSAA Division I tournament play with a 4:30 PM Sectional Final matchup on May 12th versus the winner of the Sectional Semifinal game between Valley Forge and Garfield Heights. That Sectional Final will be played at one of the Baseball Cats' home sites - either Classic Park or Baldwin Wallace University.

If successful on May 12th, the Cats will advance to the 2 PM May 18th District Semifinal at Strongsville High School, where they are expected to face the Strongsville Mustangs.

The Strongsville District Championship Game is slated for May 19th at 4:30 PM.

Saint Ignatius is the defending Strongsville District Champion after defeating Berea-Midpark, 3-0, in last year's District Final that saw current Wildcats standout junior left-hander and Louisville recruit Connor Adams throw a no-hitter at the Titans.  

 

Wildcats Varsity and Junior Varsity Baseball comes home with a sweep over the Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep Ramblers at Erie's historic Ainsworth Field on Saturday
5/1/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer

Fairview Park, Ohio - The corner is battling the flu and couldn't make the trip to the Keystone State today with the Baseball Cats, but after some treatment and a tune-up in the doctor's office this morning, will be back in the dugout on Tuesday for what should be a great matchup between the Wildcats and the Canton Central Catholic Crusaders at Classic Park. The first pitch is scheduled for 5 PM. This old-timer will give you a look at what is yet another solid Canton Central Catholic team on Monday.

After turning away the Ramblers from Erie Cathedral Prep and their potent offense, 9-6, on Saturday, Coach Brad Ganor's Varsity Wildcats now stand at 10-8.

Here is a look at the Cats' Varsity triumph over Cathedral Prep, with comments from Head Coach Brad Ganor and highlights from Saint Ignatius' outstanding Team Manager George Martin '16.

FROM COACH GANOR: "We came out with very good energy, especially on the heels of playing at Progressive Field," said Coach Ganor. "We were aggressive on the bases and swung the bat well. Cathedral Prep was a very good hitting team. One of the better contact teams we have played this year.

"Connor (Wildcats junior left-hander and Louisville recruit Connor Adams) battled, got out of some jams and was solid as is to be expected," Coach Ganor continued. "We have a big week coming up with a lot of games and our guys need to get some rest and be ready."

FROM GEORGE MARTIN: "The bats came out hot today in Erie as the Wildcats took a W against the Ramblers of Cathedral Prep. The Cats had a total of 10 hits with 9 singles and a double. Sophomore Tommy Grosel and junior Ryan Jacobs each had 2 singles on the day. Senior Dennis Grosel had the team's only double with a bomb to the gap in left field.

"Nick Freund and Dennis Grosel each had a pair of RBIs," George continued. "The Cats saw pitches well as the starting pitcher for the Ramblers only threw 3.2 innings. With 9 runs in total, Connor Adams had plenty of comfort at the mound. Connor allowed 5 hits, only 1 earned run and had 3 Ks as well. He left 7 men on base and proved once again he's cool under pressure with men on the base paths.

"The highlight on the defensive end came in the bottom of the 2nd, when Tommy Grosel snagged a line drive and stepped on first to turn a double play. Griffin Hunt came in to close the game and shut Cathedral Prep down with 1 hit and 1 K."

A tip of the corner's cap also goes out to the Junior Varsity Wldcats, who shutdown Cathedral Prep's Jayvees, 6-0. The JV game in Erie preceded the Varsity matchup.      

 

Wildcats Varsity Baseball is defeated by Brecksville-Broadview Heights, 5-4, on a two-out, bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh inning at Progressive Field on Friday evening
4/30/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April/May 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - Yes, it was a loss that now has Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats standing 9-8 heading into Saturday's 1:30 PM first pitch versus the Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep Ramblers at Erie's storied Ainsworth Field.

That said, Friday evening's 5-4 setback to the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Bees, which was the result of a two-out, bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh inning, was as much about the opportunity and experience of playing at the home of the Indians as it was the game.

Saint Ignatius and Brecksville-Broadview Heights, two clubs that have been at or just over the .500 mark for the past few weeks, played a spirited game that was part of the Cleveland Indians Charities annual High School Hardball Classic.

Coach Ganor, who like the Bees' coaching staff, utilized a different pitcher every inning and made sure that every healthy player saw the field, emphasized to his Wildcats just before they departed Progressive Field to always remember and cherish the experience of playing in a Major League Baseball Park.

Friday night was, as Coach Ganor said, about sharing that experience with their teammates, friends and families, whether the outcome was a win, a loss or a tie.

Yes, Friday night's game could have ended in tie, as just before the start of the seventh inning the umpires informed both teams that the seventh inning was going to be the final one even though the game was tied at that point. High School games are seven innings, but of course extra innings come into play just like college level and the Minor and Major Leagues.

Not Friday, however.  

There was a two-hour time limit placed on the games at the annual Hardball Classic and the Bees and the Cats were just minutes from approaching that limit. St. Edward and Olmsted Falls were waiting patiently in the concourse, as the Eagles and the Bulldogs were scheduled to play the final game of the Hardball Classic.

After Saint Ignatius was retired in order in the top of the seventh, Brecksville-Broadview Heights loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning on an error, a one-out hit batsman and a two-out intentional walk to the Bees' more than capable hitter Dan Harwood.

Brecksville-Broadview Heights' Jesse Chodkiewicz then stepped to the plate and brought home the winning run by drawing another base on balls, and the Bees and their faithful added an extra memory to their experience at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.

The early innings provided plenty of action that saw Brecksville-Broadview Heights take a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. The big blows were an RBI single by Harwood and a bases-loaded, two-run single by Joe Raffin.

Saint Ignatius responded  with two runs in the top of the second inning and took a 4-3 lead with two more tallies in the top of the third.

Cats senior catcher Jon Robinson ignited the two-run second inning with a sharp single through the right side, senior shortstop Kevin Mingus followed with an infield hit and senior captain/center fielder/relief ace Mike Rogers loaded the bases with a sharp single the opposite way to left field. Senior outfielder Dan Volpe was then hit by a pitch, making it a 3-1 game, and a ground out to the right side off the bat of senior outfielder/pitcher Nick Freund brought home Saint Ignatius' second run. Nick was coming off a marvelous no-hitter that he threw at the Archbishop Hoban Knights on Wednesday evening at Baldwin Wallace University.

Coach Ganor's Cats moved to a 4-3 lead in the top of the third courtesy of the first of two authoritative base hits off the bat of junior infielder Joe Gutbrod, a single to right field by senior third baseman/captain Dennis Grosel and one-out, run-scoring hits off the bats of Mingus and Rogers.

With two outs and the bases empty in bottom of the fifth, Brecksville-Broadview Heights would go on to tie the score at 4-4 behind a run-scoring triple to right-center field off the bat of Griffin Stevens.

The final line scores on the game from the scorer at Progressive Field were 5 runs, 5 hits, 1 error and eight runners stranded for the Bees, and 4 runs, 9 hits, 2 errors and 9 left on base by the Cats.

Not only did Coach Ganor use a pitcher per inning, one of those pitchers actually worked two innings, but from different sides of the mound. Rogers, who is a southpaw, pitched right-handed in the fifth inning and went back to his left arm in the bottom of the seventh. Mike previously went right-left in a single game while playing for his summer team.

This corner was impressed with the 1-2-3 inning gifted junior outfielder Ryan Jacobs threw in the bottom of the third. Heat City, my friends. I think Coach Ganor, who doubles as the Pitching Coach, was also impressed.

It was great to see injured players Jeff Chonko and Jack Seifert have the opportunity to coach third and first base, respectively, and help get the offense flowing. Among those Coach Ganor also allowed to coach the bases were standout senior infielder/designated hitter George Asadorian, gifted Team Manager George Martin, Team Chaplin Drew Vilinsky, better known as one of the premier Junior Varsity Ice Hockey Coaches in the state, and the Wildcats' super stats man, Joe Ertle.

The Varsity Baseball Cats will board the bus at 8 AM on Saturday so they can support the Junior Varsity Cats in their 11 AM game versus Erie Cathedral Prep's Jayvees.

As for the Varsity Ramblers, who take on the Cats at 1:30 PM in Ainsworth Field, they stood 9-2 this week. It is a program that has produced 17 District 10 titles, including the last two, 14 Metro Championships and five Regional crowns, three of which have come over the past three seasons.         

  

  

 

Here is a look at Nick Freund's masterpiece from Wildcats outstanding Team Manager George Martin '16
4/28/2016

From George Martin and Posted By Mr. Eddie Dwyer

 

A huge congratulations goes out to Wildcats senior right-hander Nick Freund, who Wednesday evening pitched the 17th no-hitter in Saint Ignatius' baseball history, as the Cats turned back Archbishop Hoban, 2-0, at Baldwin Wallace University
4/28/2016
By Mr. Eddie Dwyer
 
FROM WILDCATS HEAD COACH/PITCHING COACH BRAD GANOR: "Nick Freund will be remembered forever. Being able to throw a no-hitter is very special. Between Connor's no no in the playoffs, and Nick today, those are two of the better games I have ever seen while coaching at Saint Ignatius.
 
Nick was in total command from the beginning. He and Drew (Drew Asadorian) called basically the whole game and for a sophomore catcher to be that composed, says a lot.
 
Their pitcher was almost matching Nick pitch for pitch, but with Joe (Evans) getting the lead-off single, executing the bunt with Ryan (Jacobs) and Dennis (Grosel) delivering, Nick had it the rest of the way.
 
Our second run was just icing and let us breathe a little bit.  All I ever want is to create memories these kids will have for their whole life. Today, Nick created his own."
 
Note: According to Saint Ignatius' "Cats Stats," Nick Freund's gem is the 17th no-hitter in Wildcats Baseball History, counting two by Andy Hargrove, the son of former Indians Manager Mike Hargorve, in 1999 and 2000, and three perfect games - Steve Ronay in 1923, Al Hutz in 1972 and Bob Baxter in 1992.
 
Nick's pitching mate, junior left-hander Connor Adams, pitched a no-hitter in last year's 3-0 District-Championship Game victory over Berea-Midpark and Connor and Nick's classmate, ace right-hander Murphy O'Brien, combined on a no-hitter versus Willoughby South last season.   
 
CONGRATS TO NICK, HIS FAMILY, COACH GANOR AND THE ENTIRE SAINT IGNATIUS BASEBALL PROGRAM!   
 

 

Braydon Nelson throws the Cats' first complete game of the season and Saint Ignatius rides that outstanding performance and a seven-run fifth inning to a 7-0 triumph over the Green Wave of Holy Name on Tuesday evening at Baldwin Wallace University
4/27/2016

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2016

Berea, Ohio - It is safe to say that it appears Saint Ignatius' outstanding Head Coach/Pitching Coach Brad Ganor has solidified his third starter in the Wildcats' rotation.

Junior right-hander Braydon Nelson, coming off his first Varsity victory with five strong innings against Mentor last week, took the mound on Baldwin Wallace University's newly turfed and baseball-rich field Tuesday evening and fired a complete-game, two-hit shutout at Holy Name.

Saint Ignatius, which improved to 8-7, complemented Nelson's gem by scoring all of its seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

The Cats sent 12 batters to the plate in the bottom of the fifth, with the big blows coming with two outs - a line-drive RBI single to left field by senior designated hitter John Robinson, an authoritative two-run, bases-loaded single from junior left fielder Ryan Jacobs and a two-run single by senior center fielder/tri-Captain Mike Rogers, who led off the inning by drawing a walk.

Saint Ignatius also took advantage of some perfectly executed bunting, two throwing errors and a passed ball in both setting the table and keeping the decisive fifth inning outburst rolling.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Nelson, an amiable, but quiet and humble young man, has now added his first Varsity shutout to what is a 2-0 record. And, you can mark down Tuesday's dominant performance as the first complete game this spring by the Wildcats' talented staff.

"He was very efficient," said Coach Ganor of Nelson, who recorded the first two outs in the top of the sixth inning on two pitches. "I'll take a seven run inning all the time, we haven't had many of those. It feels good to relax and enjoy a game."

In a compiling a line that would draw a smile from any Head Coach/Manager on any level, Nelson's 2-hit blanking of the Green Wave included four strikeouts, no walks and 55 strikes in the 80 pitches he threw.

As Coach Ganor said with a warm smile, "Today was about Braydon Nelson."

MAKING WAVES: Holy Name senior pitcher Spencer Harrington threw four shutout innings and coming up with the two hits for the 6-9 Green Wave were senior right fielder Joe Rivera and sophomore center fielder Matthew Springer.

UP NEXT for the Cats is Wednesday's 5 PM matchup with the Archbishop Hoban Knights at Baldwin Wallace University. Coach Ganor will call on versatile senior right-hander/leadoff hitter/right fielder Nick Freund to make the start against the Knights.

Archbishop Hoban is coming off a 13-2 loss to Ohio Jesuit Tournament Champion Walsh Jesuit earlier this week and last weekend the Knights were defeated by Youngtown Cardinal Mooney, 7-3, in the Catholic School Showcase at Cene Park in Youngstown.

Hoban split a doubleheader with Aurora on April 16th and was defeated by the Padua Franciscan Bruins, 10-4, on April 15th at Archbishop Hoban.

Last season, the Wildcats traveled to Archbishop Hoban and, after overcoming some early errors, defeated the Knights, 7-3. Current senior shortstop Kevin Mingus had two impressive doubles that day, including one with the bases loaded.          

 

Wildcats Varsity Baseball rides a three-run first inning and a seven-run seventh to an 11-2 victory over Cincinnati St. Xavier in Sunday's consolation game of the annual Ohio Jesuit Tournament at St. Xavier
4/25/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2016

Cincinnati, Ohio - Saint Ignatius' gifted senior Dennis Grosel, whose leadership on the baseball diamond  is as vital as the potent bat he swings, said it was great to see the Wildcats sustain a potent offense on Sunday at St. Xavier High School.

The Cats, with Grosel contributing two hits and three runs batted in, took charge in the first inning and settled the issue in style with a seven-run top of the seventh in an 11-2 triumph over the Xavier Bombers at the annual Ohio Jesuit Tournament.

Saint Ignatius and St. Xavier were playing for third place in the tournament, as Walsh Jesuit and Toledo St. John's Jesuit earned the right to meet in the OJT Championship Game with their victories on Saturday.

Walsh Jesuit defeated the Wildcats on Saturday and St. John's Jesuit prevailed over St. Xavier. The Warriors from Walsh Jesuit took home the OJT 2016 tournament title with a 13-8 victory over the Titans from St. John's Jesuit on Sunday. That game was also played at St. Xavier.  

"We've kind of struggled with the bats this year, we've been on a hill, up and down" said Grosel, who joins senior center fielder/closer Mike Rogers and senior right-handed pitcher Murphy O'Brien as Head Coach Brad Ganor's three Captains. "We have to concentrate on the uphill and keep the bats rolling."

Grosel, who was a first-team All-Ohio Division I quarterback/Captain for Coach Chuck Kyle's Football Wildcats this past fall, echoed Coach Ganor's sentiments by pointing out that Saint Ignatius not only swung the bats with authority on Sunday, but capitalized on almost every St. Xavier mistake.

"That's what separates a 5-4 game from an 11-2 game," Grosel said of the forced and unforced errors St. Xavier committed.

The Wildcats wasted little time in grabbing the momentum, as they took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

With one out and the bases empty, senior second baseman Joe Evans, who is having a solid spring, was hit by a pitch and advanced to second base on an errant pick-off attempt at first base.

Up stepped Grosel with his first RBI on the day, scoring Evans  with a double to deep center field.  The other key hit in the top of the first was a run-scoring double by junior outfielder Ryan Jacobs.

St. Xavier, which like Saint Ignatius stands 7-7 heading into this week, cut the deficit to 3-1 in the bottom of the first inning without the benefit of a hit.

The Wildcats responded with a run in the top of the second and it stayed a 4-1 game until the bottom of the fifth, when the Bombers closed to 4-2.

Trailing, 4-2, entering the top of the seventh inning, it was Katy Bar the Door for St. Xavier.

The Bombers were hit with a seven-run barrage from Saint Ignatius that started when St. Xavier's left fielder lost a high pop into a tough sun with one out and the bases empty. After senior outfielder/leadoff hitter Nick Freund, who has been a constant for most of the season, drew a bases-loaded walk, Evans laced a base hit to center field that scored two runs and Freund came around to score when the ball got by the center fielder.

Grosel and senior shortstop Kevin Mingus completed the seventh-inning onslaught with RBI doubles. The final line score on the game read 11 runs, 11 hits and 3 errors for the Wildcats and 2 runs, 4 hits and 4 errors for the Bombers.

"That's typical high school baseball, you have to capitalize on mistakes," said Coach Ganor. "They (Walsh Jesuit) capitalized on our mistakes yesterday and we capitalized on St. Xavier's today. There's the two different outcomes.

"I thought Connor (Wildcats gifted junior southpaw Connor Adams) did a great job," Coach Ganor continued.  "He said he didn't have his best stuff today, but that's the mark of an ace pitcher, when you don't have your best stuff and are able to battle and give your team a chance to win. And that's exactly what he did."

In his six complete innings, Adams, a Louisville Cardinals recruit, yielded 4 hits, two unearned runs, walked two and struck out six. In the 95 pitches Connor threw, 59 of them were strikes.

Rogers, who reached base every time he stepped to the plate on Sunday and was 3-for-3 on the day with an RBI, came on to pitch in the bottom of the seventh.

Among the Cats' other big days were the two hits produced by Jacobs.

Up next for Saint Ignatius is Tuesday's matchup with old West Senate rival Holy Name. The first pitch from Baldwin Wallace University will be 5 PM.

Getting the starting call from Coach Ganor on Tuesday versus the Green Wave is promising 6-foot-4, 200-pound junior right-hander Braydon Nelson, who won his first Varsity game last week with five strong innings against the Mentor Cardinals at Classic Park.         

 

 

 

Walsh Jesuit breaks open a 1-1 game by scoring three times in both the fifth and sixth innings and goes on to defeat Saint Ignatius, 7-1, in the first day of the annual Ohio Jesuit Baseball Tournament at St. Xavier High School
4/23/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2016

Cincinnati, Ohio - On what was a perfect day for baseball, Saint Ignatius saw chances slip away late Saturday afternoon and Walsh Jesuit, a four-time state champion and two-time state runner-up, jumped on the opportunities that came its way.

In what was the second game of the opening round at the annual Ohio Jesuit Tournament on the sun-drenched campus of Cincinnati St. Xavier, the Wildcats and the Warriors battled to a 1-1 tie through 4 1/2 innings.

It was at that point, Walsh Jesuit welcomed Mr. Momentum back into its dugout with a three-run bottom of the fifth and then gave its standout senior right-hander Dominic Canzone, a The Ohio State University recruit, a pressure-less cushion heading into the seventh inning by scoring three more times in the bottom of the sixth.

The 7-1 victory over Saint Ignatius pushed the Warriors' record to 11-3 and advanced them to Sunday's OJT Championship Game versus Toledo St. John's Jesuit (8-2). The first pitch will be 11 AM on the main Varsity diamond at St. Xavier.

St. John's Titans made sure St. Xavier would remember them and their promising young pitcher, sophomore McCoy Butler, by defeating the Bombers, 3-0, in Saturday's first game.

Saint Ignatius and St. Xavier, who now stand 6-7 and 7-6, respectively, will meet in Sunday's 11 AM consolation, or third-place game, on the Bombers' other diamond.

"We had our chances," said Wildcats' veteran Head Coach Brad Ganor, who will send his gifted junior left-hander and Louisville recruit Connor Adams to the mound on Sunday. "When we got it to even there, the momentum went on our side.

"We talk all of the time to these guys about high school baseball being a game of momentum," Coach Ganor continued. "We have to understand that it (the momentum) shifted our way. If we were able to go out there in the bottom of the fifth inning and put up a zero, then it's a different game. A totally different game. We come up and we're more confident at the plate and we put more pressure on them.

"One-one, there's pressure (on Walsh Jesuit)," Coach Ganor said. "Four to one or 7-1, there's no pressure."

In a game that matched two of the finest pitchers in Northeast Ohio, Canzone and Saint Ignatius' gifted and gritty senior right-hander Murphy O'Brien, a St. Bonaventure recruit, O'Brien started the bottom of fourth with a strikeout that saw him battle back from a 3-1 count.

Canzone, who also swings a capable bat as the second hitter in Coach Chris Kaczmar's order, was then hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a fielder's choice and took third on a pitch in the dirt.

After Warriors senior designated hitter Mac Shinaberry drew a two-out walk, the first run of the game came home off a passed ball.

The Wildcats, who entered the weekend on a five-game winning streak and having won six of their previous seven games, answered with a run in the top of the fifth that was fueled by a leadoff single from sophomore first baseman/pitcher Tommy Grosel and a sacrifice bunt by senior center fielder Mike Rogers.

Sophomore outfielder Justin Sands was then inserted as a courtesy runner for Tommy Grosel and Justin advanced to third on a wild pitch.

Following a bouncer back to the mound for the second out of the inning, senior right fielder and leadoff hitter Nick Freund delivered a game-tying RBI single. Senior second baseman Joe Evans, who joins Freund as two of Coach Ganor's hottest hitters, followed with an authoritative single that put runners on first and third.

Walsh Jesuit kept it a 1-1 game, however, as Canzone was able to coax an inning-ending ground out.

Just when it seemed Saint Ignatius had taken the momentum away from the Warriors, the team from the North Coast League answered big time in the bottom frames of the fifth and sixth innings.

Coach Kaczmar's talented and opportunistic club loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth, courtesy of an error, a sacrifice bunt by senior third baseman Nate Reich, a single to center field by senior second baseman Bryce Marshall and a walk to junior shortstop Brendan Regan, a Michigan State recruit.

Canzone then helped his cause with a two-run single through the right side and his battery mate, senior Dan Mendenhall, followed with an RBI single to right field.

Leading, 4-1, Walsh Jesuit scored three more times in the bottom of the sixth with the big blow being a two-out, two-run double to deep left-center field by Canzone.

Coach Ganor singled out the continued solid approach that Freund is taking to the plate, as Nick had two more hits on Saturday, Evans' hot bat, the three hits that junior outfielder Ryan Jacobs gave the offense on Saturday, and the effort from O'Brien.

O'Brien worked 4.1 innings, yielded three hits, four runs of which only one was earned, struck out two, walked three, hit a batter and threw 40 strikes in his 74 pitches.

In improving to 4-0 on the season, Canzone went the distance. He totaled 89 pitches of which 67 were strikes, yielded seven hits (two were infield hits) and one earned run, had a hit batsman and struck out five.

A PROMISING TITAN: Right-hander McCoy Butler, who pitched St. John's Jesuit past host St. Xavier on Saturday, was a wide-eyed freshman last season with a strong arm, but needing to learn how to pitch.

Well, the progress is coming along just fine, thank you.

In a three-hit complete game shutout over the Bombers on their home field, Butler, now 1-0 this season, struck out four, did not walk a batter and kept his poise every time St. Xavier attempted to get back in the game.

The Titans will turn to big-game tested southpaw Joey Sabol (4-0) in Sunday's OJT Championship Game versus Walsh Jesuit.    

       

 

The "resilient" Wildcats, behind the pitching of Braydon Nelson and Mike Rogers, and clutch hits by Drew Asadorian, Nick Freund and Joe Evans in a four-run second inning, turn back the Mentor Cardinals, 5-4, at Classic Park on Wednesday evening
4/21/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2016

From Classic Park, the home of the Lake County Captains and, along with Baldwin Wallace University, one of Saint Ignatius' two homes away from home.

The Wildcats of Head Coach Brad Ganor, who got off to an 0-5 start this season that included three losses in Florida, evened their record at 6-6 and extended their winning streak to five games.

Mentor's Cardinals, under the direction of Jeff Haase, led 1-0 after the top of the first inning and trailed by one run heading into the top of the seventh before being turned away by senior Mike Rogers' third save of the season. The Cardinals now stand 5-5.

Saint Ignatius' 5-4 triumph, which Coach Ganor described as winning ugly, but also being resilient, was highlighted by a four-run bottom of the second.

Mentor made it a one run game by scoring two runs in the top of the third inning and the Cats scored their fifth and eventual winning run in the bottom of the fourth.

A Cardinals' run in the top of the sixth cut the deficit to 5-4 and that is how it ended after Rogers, who took the mound in the top of the seventh, recorded a strikeout and senior shortstop Kevin Mingus hauled in a high pop fly in left field. Mike's K and Kevin's game-ending catch came with Mentor runners on first and second. Those runners reached on back-to-back one-out walks.

Among the Cats' highlights were the five complete innings that oh so promising junior right-hander Braydon Nelson gave his team in earning what is Braydon's first victory on the Varsity level. He is now 1-0 after showing moments of promise in his other starting opportunities this young season.

Braydon's five innings included three runs, all of which were unearned, three strikeouts, two walks and 87 total pitches, 56 of which were strikes.

Saint Ignatius' four-run second inning began with a one-out walk by Rogers and a sharp ground ball off the bat of sophomore first baseman Tommy Grosel that the shortstop couldn't handle. Sophomore catcher Drew Asadorian followed with an authoritative game-tying RBI single and, with two outs, gritty junior third baseman Mark Geraci was hit by a pitch.

Up stepped senior right fielder and leadoff hitter Nick Freund and senior second baseman Joe Evans, who both went Rip City to right field for run-scoring hits, with Joe's being a two-RBI shot that came off a 1-2 pitch and staked the Cats to a 4-1 lead.

Mentor, which scored the game's first run on an RBI single by senior left fielder Ricky Valeri in the top of the first inning, cut the deficit to 4-3 in the top of the third by taking advantage of three errors by the Cats, including one that resulted in the Cardinals' second and third runs.

After Saint Ignatius moved to a 5-3 lead  in the bottom of the fourth, a run that was fueled by Tommy Grosel's sharp single past the third baseman, a ground ball to the right side by Asadorian that moved Tommy to second and an error, Mentor closed to 5-4 in the  top of the sixth off back-to-back doubles by junior second baseman Tommy Klepcyk and junior center fielder and lead-off hitter Nathan Birtley. Those consecutive two-baggers came with two outs and the bases empty.

The line score on the game was 4 runs, 7 hits and 1 error for the Cardinals, and 5 runs, 8 hits and 4 errors for the Wildcats.

FROM BRAYDON NELSON, WHO WAS KIND ENOUGH TO  SHARE HIS THOUGHTS WITH THE CORNER AFTER HIS POSTGAME OUTFIELD SPRINTS.

"It feels great to get the first win (on the Varsity level)," Braydon said. "The offense kept me going with the run support and allowed me to do my thing on the mound.

"Honestly, I would say everything (fastball, curveball and changeup ) was working pretty well for me today," Braydon continued. "I had to make some tough pitches, because the Mentor hitters were doing pretty well answering.

"It was fun pitching in this game," said Braydon, who was acknowledged in Coach Ganor's post-game talk for "Keeping us in the game."

FROM COACH GANOR

"Win ugly, but win, just find a way,' Coach Ganor said. "To get it back to even (6-6) is great. I'm happy for them, they're resilient. We're finding that out. We wondered for the first week if we were resilient, but the last two weeks I'm seeing a lot of resiliency."

The resiliency Coach Ganor referred to has come in the form of six victories in the Cats' last seven games, including a current five-game winning streak.

"Mentor was a real good hitting team and today we had to battle on the mound," said Coach Ganor, who will lead his Cats against the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Bees on Friday at 5:30 PM in the Cleveland Indians Charities High School Classic at Progressive Field. "I thought Braydon did a great job on the mound. He picked up the defense when we needed him to. That's a good one-run game that will get your blood flowing a little bit. It might have flowed a little more than I wanted it to, but all in all, I'm very happy for them to get it back to 6-6."

NOTE: After Friday night's game at Progressive Field it's off to the Queen City of Cincinnati on Saturday for the annual Ohio Jesuit Tournament at St. Xavier High School. The Cats' first game is Saturday at 4 PM versus Coach Chris Kaczmar's Walsh Jesuit Warriors.

Saturday's 1 PM game matches the host Bombers of St. Xavier against the Titans of Toledo St. John's Jesuit and Sunday's championship and consolation games are both scheduled for 11 AM.

The corner will be on hand for game coverage both Friday night at the home of the Tribe and on the campus of St. Xavier over the weekend.

Providing live broadcasts from Progressive Field and St. Xavier will be the golden tones of Brendan DeVenney and Matt MacKenzie, who promise to do their best Vince Scully and Tom Hamilton over the Saint Ignatius Broadcast Network.

Mr. Vince Scully, the eloquent Hall of Fame broadcaster for the Los Angeles Dodgers, has begun his 67th and what he says will be his last season before it is on to retirement.

And Mr. Tom Hamilton, well what can you say? In this old-timer's humble opinion (and I grew up listening to the radio, not watching TV), the best of the best in the Indians' broadcasting history.

Have a great and safe weekend!         

    

 

The Cats' Bats and Base Running make their mark, Connor Adams' left arm is money, as is Griffin Hunt's work out of the bullpen. It all adds up to a 5-1 victory over St. Vincent-St. Mary at Classic Park on Tuesday.
4/19/2016

Presented By Saint Ignatius' outstanding Team Manager George Martin '16 and Head Coach Brad Ganor, and Posted By Mr. Eddie Dwyer.

THIS OLD-TIMER WAS COVERING THE VOLLEYBALL HEADLINER BETWEEN THE CATS AND THE WALSH JESUIT WARRIORS ON TUESDAY NIGHT, BUT WILL RETURN TO THE DIAMOND ON WENDESDAY FOR THE BASEBALL CATS' GAME VERSUS THE MENTOR CARDINALS IN CLASSIC PARK. THE FIRT PITCH IS 5 PM.

From Joltin' George Martin: The Cats' bats were working today, as they constantly put the ball in play to force the Irish to make plays on the defensive end. With 4 total hits, Nick Freund, Dennis Grosel, and Mike Rogers were feeling good at the plate. Dennis had two singles on the day and Freund as well, as the entire offense was like speed demons on the base paths. Rogers worked the count on a walk and hit a single to center as well. The Cats jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back as they scored 5 runs in total.

The Wildcat defense was strong throughout the game as junior Erik Demchuk had a marvelous play at 3rd base to highlight a great night. Junior phenom, Connor Adams, pitched 4 innings of no run baseball. He had a total of 60 pitches with 39 of them being strikes. He allowed 2 hits and fanned 5 batters. Safe to say Adams pitched the way he has all season.

Sensational reliever Griffin Hunt came in to shut down St. Vincent-St. Mary in the final three innings. He gave up 3 hits and a run, but it was not earned. He struck out 5 batters while throwing 50 pitches. Griffin has proven himself to be a trustworthy reliever for Coach Ganor and the Wildcats so far this season.

From Coach Ganor, whose Cats improved to 5-6 and extended their winning streak to four games: Connor Adams settled in and worked with great tempo. I wanted him to throw 60 pitches so we could have him back 100% for the Jesuit tournament this weekend, and he did just that. Griffin did what he has been doing all year, throwing strikes. I thought Nick Freund had a great day and was all over the bases. We have been talking about each week starting new. We played well last week and this week started off well. We know we will have a tough one with Mentor tomorrow so we need to turn our attention immediately to that game.

FROM THE CORNER: Coach Jeff Hasse's Mentor Cardinals stand 5-4 after their 7-4 triumph at Shaker Heights on Tuesday evening.

Two of Cardinals' four losses were to St. Edward, 4-2, and Strongsville, 8-7.

Last season, two of the current Wildcats, shortstop Kevin Mingus and left fielder Ryan Jacobs, each had two hits as Saint Ignatius defeated Mentor, 9-1, at The Pipe Yard Classic in Lorain County.

On the mound for the Cats on Wednesday in Classic Park will be promising 6-foot-4, 200-pound junior right-hander Braydon Nelson.

Just a little side note, Mentor graduate Kade McClure got off to a 6- 0 start for the University of Louisville this season. Saint Ignatius' gifted junior southpaw Connor Adams is a Louisville recruit.   

Saint Ignatius Varsity Baseball totals 20 runs and 22 hits in sweeping two of the state's highly regarded programs in a doubleheader on Saturday, 6-0 over Grove City and 14-7 versus host Upper Arlington
4/17/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2016

From the baseball-rich facility on the campus of Upper Arlington High School

It was a picture-perfect spring day in Franklin County on Saturday and Saint Ignatius Head Coach Brad Ganor couldn't have drawn it up any better for his Wildcats, who have had difficulty scoring runs during the first three weeks of the season.

After defeating a solid Youngstown Ursuline team, 1-0, on Thursday, the Cats erupted for their biggest offensive output of 2016 and now stand 4-6 heading into Tuesday's 5 PM first pitch versus St. Vincent-St. Mary in Classic Park.   

With not a cloud in the blue sky that hovered over the home of the Golden Bears of Upper Arlington, Saint Ignatius rained hits and runs all over Grove City and Upper Arlington, and walked away with a doubleheader sweep over two of the Central District's highly respected programs.

In game one, the Wildcats scored all of their runs in the first three innings and rode the gifted right arm of senior Murphy O'Brien to a 6-0 triumph over the Greyhounds from Grove City. The Greyhounds entered their matchup with Saint Ignatius with a 9-3 record.

O'Brien, a St. Bonaventure University recruit who is also one of Coach Ganor's tri-Captains, worked 5 1/3 innings in blanking Grove City. Murphy yielded two hits, struck out six, walked three and fired 92 pitches, 55 of which were strikes.

Murphy now stands 1-1 as a starter this year after setting a school record with 10 saves as the ace out of the bullpen in 2015.

Promising 6-foot-4 junior right-hander Braydon Nelson put a seal on the shutout with an inning and two thirds that saw Braydon give up one hit, record two strikeouts and no walks. He threw 22 pitches, 14 for strikes.

The nightcap featured a matchup between host Upper Arlington and Saint Ignatius that was pretty much all about a Wildcats offense that produced 14 runs.

Upper Arlington, which also defeated Grove City, 3-1, in Saturday's opener, is now 9-4 after being hit early and often by Saint Ignatius' now hot bats.

Only a four-run bottom of the seventh allowed the Golden Bears to walk off their field with a 14-7 loss.  

Senior right-hander Nick Freund got the starting call from Coach Ganor and worked 3 2/3 innings. Nick, who is 1-0 this spring, yielded two hits, three runs, one of which was earned, walked three and had one strikeout.

Junior right-hander Danny Adler turned in workman-like 2 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen for the Cats, yielding three hits. Danny had a strikeout and did not issue a walk.

THE CATS' BATS

Saint Ignatius' offense versus Grove City saw Freund, who doubles as a starting right fielder, come up with two hits and a number of his teammates each produce one hit. The Wildcats also took advantage of six errors by the Greyhounds.

Coach Ganor's club took command against Grove City with a three-run third inning that featured a sharp lead-off single by senior catcher John Robinson, a base hit through the left side by junior outfielder Ryan Jacobs, an error and RBI singles by senior center fielder/tri-Captain Mike Rogers and versatile junior infielder/pitcher Erik Demchuk.

Rogers led the 12-hit attack against Upper Arlington with three hits and senior second baseman Joe Evans, who is having an impressive start to the season, had two hits.

Also touching up the Golden Bears' pitching for two-hit games were sophomore first baseman Tommy Grosel and junior infielder Christion Ramos. Christion hit a towering double to the base of the fence in left field that had the Wildcat faithful on their feet.  

Providing the big blow that unleashed the Cats' offense against Upper Arlington was senior outfielder Dan Volpe, who delivered a two-out, bases-loaded three-run triple to deep left-center field. Rogers followed with an RBI single and the Golden Bears were back on their heels. Volpe also had a double to deep left-center field in the Grove City game.

FLASHING THE LEATHER: Saint Ignatius' defense played a significant role during Sweep Saturday as Tommy Grosel was money at first base, senior shortstop Kevin Mingus and Evans controlled the middle infield, sophomore catcher Drew Asadorian continued to show his savvy behind the dish, and Rogers patrolled the outfield from the 8 position.

FROM MURPHY O'BRIEN: "If I had to choose, probably the curve ball," O'Brien said when asked what pitch was clicking for him on Saturday afternoon. "I was really comfortable throwing that in hitters' counts.

"It's really hard to say right now," O'Brien continued when asked if the Cats are totally back and prepared to gear up for another postseason run. "We've got some momentum. Those wins today were great wins. That was the best we've played all year. If we carry this on, that could be the turnaround."

FROM COACH GANOR: "We knew it was coming at some point," said Coach Ganor of the impressive offensive display the Cats put forth on Saturday. "It takes pressure off the pitchers, pitchers are more comfortable and can get into a rhythm.

"I'm really happy for the offense and hope that we're building in confidence, feeling some success and trying to build on that," Coach Ganor continued. "It's hard to play a doubleheader and win a doubleheader. But to take two down here against two quality programs, I'm very happy with that.

"Each week is a different week, and now we're moving on to the next one."

FROM A VERY SPECIAL FAN, COACH GANOR'S SON, DOMINIC: "They played very good today and we hope that they win every single game and get to the state championship. They pitch good, but they have to hit the ball better. If they get to the MLB (Major Leagues), that's great. But they have to go to college first."

Note: I believe that Dominic Joseph Ganor will soon be 7 years old.

STICK AROUND LONG ENOUGH, AND YOU'LL SEE SOMETHING NEW: This seasoned reporter saw a first yesterday, as Coach Ganor and Grove City Head Coach Ryan Alexander played Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who would be the home team at Upper Arlington. Grove City won.

That was one of the few highlights on the day for the Greyhounds.                     

 

 

Wildcats Varsity Baseball is still in pursuit of its first victory in the young 2016 season, but plenty of promise came to the fore in Friday night's 3-2 loss at tradition-rich Massillon Jackson
4/9/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2016

Massillon, Ohio - Saint Ignatius, which lost to three of the strongest teams the state of Florida has to offer and was shutout at Boardman on Wednesday, battled one of Ohio' premier programs, Massillon Jackson, down to the last pitch on Friday night.

Although disappointed with the 3-2 setback to the now undefeated through six games Polar Bears, the Wildcats walked out of Jackson's first-class and baseball-rich facility knowing they are capable of returning to the form that saw them finish as a state runner-up in 2013 and advance to the state semifinals in 2015.

"It's tough to sit with zero wins right now, but I asked them to bring energy for two hours and we played a good baseball game," said Saint Ignatius' veteran skipper Brad Ganor. "We just got beat. That's baseball. If we can duplicate that for the rest of the season, we're going to be more than fine.

"I don't know how many times I walked away from a loss feeling good, but I feel really good," Coach Ganor continued. "That's a good baseball team (Jackson). He (Polar Bears Head Coach Bill Gamble) does a great job with his program. That's a deep playoff-type team and we're right there with them."

In what was a matchup of two class-personified programs, teams that are almost mirror images of each other, Saint Ignatius (0-5) rode two hit batsmen, a stolen base and a two-out balk to a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning.

After strong plays by senior outfielders Nick Freund and Mike Rogers kept Jackson off the board in the bottom of the third inning, the Wildcats moved to a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth. Nick and Mike turned in running and diving catches in right and center field, respectively.

With two outs and the bases empty in the top of the fourth, Saint Ignatius senior designated hitter George Asadorian laced a double down the left-field line and senior shortstop Kevin Mingus followed with an RBI single to left-center field.

Jackson, which brought home the Division I State Baseball Championship in 2014 and was a regional runner-up in 2015,  loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the fourth off an error, a base hit by first baseman/ clean-up hitter Jon Conkle and a walk.

The Polar Bears' three-sport standout (football, basketball and baseball), senior shortstop Jake Pallotta, drew a bases-loaded walk and Jackson knotted the score at 2 on a sacrifice fly to center field off the bat of second baseman Chad Matthus that saw Rogers make another diving catch.

Both teams turned to their bullpens after four innings on what was a brisk night in Stark County. 

Following a 1-2-3 top of the fifth by Polar Bears reliever Glen Richardson that featured two strikeouts, Saint Ignatius thwarted a potentially productive bottom of the fifth for Jackson with a 4-6-3 double play.

After the Polar Bears had runners on first and third with one out in the bottom of the fifth, Cats senior second baseman Joe Evans stayed with a sharp one-bounce liner that appeared to have base hit written all over it, made a perfect toss to Mingus for the force at second and Kevin fired the relay to first base to end the threat.

Riding the emotion of his play at second, Evans led off the top of the sixth inning with a line-drive single to left field and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt off the bat of junior left fielder Ryan Jacobs.

Richardson was equal to the challenge, however, as he ended the top of the sixth with two more strikeouts.

With the Polar Bears and their faithful making themselves heard, Jackson scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth and turned back Saint Ignatius in the top of the seventh.

The  versatile Pallotta led off the bottom of the sixth by drawing another walk. Cade Mottice, who was running for Pallotta, stole second base off a swinging third strike, advanced to third on a passed ball, and scored the game's final and go-ahead run off a sharp single by designated hitter Justin Johnston through a drawn-in left side of the Cats' infield.

Pallotta then came on to pitch the top of the seventh and, with the exception of a one-out, bases-empty walk to Rogers, got the decisive final three outs on a leadoff pop up to the catcher off one pitch, a strikeout following Rogers' walk and a game-ending bouncer back to the mound.

"The hitting is going to come, the timely hits are going to come, we'll keep getting good pitching and we'll be okay, I truly believe that," said Coach Ganor, whose Wildcats defeated the Polar Bears, 3-2, at Jackson last season.  "As down as I was the other day, I wouldn't say I'm on top of the world, but I feel a heck of a lot better." 

Here are the pitching lines for Wildcats starter Murphy O'Brien and Polar Bears starter Noah Evans.

Murphy: Four innings, 66 pitches, 37 of which were strikes, two hits, two runs (1 earned) and three walks.

Noah: Four innings, 52 pitches, 34 of which were strikes, two hits, two runs, two hit batsmen, a balk, no walks and two strikeouts.

A STAT FROM THE HOT CORNER: Jackson entered Friday night's game having outscored its first five opponents by a combined score of 48-5. That included three shutouts by the Polar Bears' pitching staff.

NOTE: The Cats have added another game versus St. Vincent-St. Mary for this coming Monday. If Mother Nature's wrath calms down by Monday, the first pitch will be 5 PM on the campus of Baldwin Wallace University.

As for the Fighting Irish of St. Vincent-St. Mary, Coach Anthony Boarman's club won three of its first four games this season. Coach Boarman currently teaches American History, Economics and Personal Finance at St. Vincent-St. Mary and is also the school's website manager as well as an Irish Athletes for Christ advisor.

Like his dad, Dan, a legendary and highly successful football coach who recently retired as SVSM's head man on the gridiron, Anthony is a class act.    

Last season, on a perfect May afternoon at Old Forge Field in Akron, the Cats erupted for eight runs in the top of the seventh inning and went on to a 9-0 victory over the Fighting Irish.

Stay safe and warm this weekend!       

 

 

Saturday's Varsity Baseball Game vs. St. Edward at historic League Park has been postponed because of the forecast of snow and freezing temperatures. No makeup date has been determined.
4/7/2016
The pitching is there, but the hitting and fielding still need polishing as Saint Ignatius Varsity Baseball is defeated by the Boardman Spartans, 4-0, on a cold, wet and windy Wednesday night in Mahoning County
4/7/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2016

From the campus of Boardman High School

Wildcats savvy southpaw Connor Adams certainly deserved a better fate, as the junior Louisville recruit pitched four-plus innings of hitless baseball, yielding an unearned run, striking out nine and walking three.

The now 0-4 Cats, who managed just three hits and committed four errors, could not take advantage of early opportunities and were kept off balance all night by the Spartans' crafty senior right-hander Hudson Widrig.

In going the distance, Widrig threw 108 pitches, 69 of which were strikes, had seven strikeouts and issued just one base on balls in firing the three-hit shutout and improving to 2-0 on the season.

Widrig, who does not possess an overpowering fastball, did an exceptional job of spotting his pitches.

Boardman, which like Saint Ignatius was coming off a spring break trip to Florida, is 2-5 on the young season.

The Spartans also had their troubles in the field, as they matched the Wildcats' four errors.

A BUS RIDE HOME THAT THIS BASEBALL ENTHUSIAST TRULY APPRECIATED AND RESPECTED

Following Wednesday night's frustrating loss, Saint Ignatius' veteran skipper Brad Ganor, along with Wildcats Assistant Coaches Mark Terlep, John Whalen and Frank DeSico '09, huddled in the aisle near the front of Cindy's bus and discussed what they can do differently in order to get the Wildcats' promising offense in gear.

Not only was I impressed by the baseball knowledge that was being passed among these seasoned coaches, but the obvious love and admiration they have for the game and their players, and how strongly they want these promising young men to succeed.

And they were not trying to impress this old-timer, because they thought I was catching some Zs during the nearly two hour ride home from Mahoning County and the alma mater of Bernie Kosar.

It was great to see Frank DeSico again, as the former University of Notre Dame baseball standout and former Saint Ignatius football and baseball star gave this corner plenty to write about in the school year of 2008-09, when Frank helped the 2008 Wildcats bring home their 10th of a record 11 Division I State Football Championships and was a mainstay on Coach Ganor's 2009 Division I State Semifinalist Baseball Team. That 2009 team sealed what is a school record under Coach Ganor of three consecutive appearances in the OHSAA State Baseball Final Four, '07, '08 and '09. Saint Ignatius alos advanced to the final four under Coach Ganor in 2013 and 2015. The 2008 and 2013 teams were State Runners-Up.  

Coach Ganor emphasized to this corner in the dugout after the loss to Boardman that the lack of offense the Wildcats have experienced through four games is on him and his coaches. The Cats have been outscored by a combined runs total of 23-3 in those four games, three of which saw Saint Ignatius face some of the strongest talent the state of Florida has to offer.

FROM COACH GANOR: "You need to score to win," said Coach Ganor. "We had opportunities early and weren't able to capitalize with base runners. It's about time to find the right lineup that is going to help us get that first one of the season, that's all it is about now.

"Connor (Adams) did a nice job," Coach Ganor continued. "We're sitting in a 1-0 game and had opportunities, and they (the Spartans) tacked on a couple more and put it out of reach. When you have runners on second and third (with one out in the top of the second) and don't get anything out of it, its' tough. We had a couple of mental mistakes with missed signs. But those are the kind of things that are on us as coaches. We have to do a better job of making our points and working them harder in practice.

"Right now, what we're doing in practice and the position we're putting them in as a coaching staff is not putting them in a position to succeed. And that starts with me. Ultimately it will start at the top and we have to reevaluate our work and make sure these guys feel confident to go out there and succeed, because they're a talented group. If they weren't talented, they wouldn't be on this team."

BOARDMAN'S EARLY AND LATE MOMENTS: With two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the second inning, the Spartans combined a walk, two passed balls and an error into a 1-0 lead.

A few miscues by the Cats, combined with an RBI single down the left-field line by shortstop Alex Cardona, a sacrifice fly RBI by third baseman Lou Cardona and a run-scoring single from infielder Coleman Stauffer keyed Boardman's three-run fifth inning.

After Saint Ignatius was retired in order in the top of the sixth, the Cats were able to come up with a base hit by senior infielder Joe Evans with two outs and the bases empty in the top of the seventh, an effort that saw Joe rip the pitch into center field. A lineout to center field sealed the deal for the Spartans and Widrig took home his complete game, a bulldog effort, to say the least.

NO EXCUSES OFFERED: Saint Ignatius' coaching staff did not bring this point up, but it is worth mentioning that the Cats played without their standout senior catcher/tri-captain Dennis Grosel, who was sidelined with a sore knee that resulted from a play at the plate during the Florida trip.

UP NEXT PREVIEW: Unless Mother Nature throws one of her wicked curves, Saint Ignatius is scheduled to make the trip to Stark County on Friday for a 5 PM first pitch versus the always baseball sound Polar Bears from Massillon Jackson. On Saturday, Saint Ignatius and St. Edward are slated to add another chapter to their storied rivalry in a 2 PM first pitch at historic League Park. 

Jackson, which has brought home two state baseball championships (1947 and 2014), stood 5-0 with three shutouts entering today's (Thursday) home game versus North Canton Hoover. The Polar Bears outscored those five opponents by a combined score of 48-5. That 2014 state title for the Polar Bears was the result of a 5-1 victory over North Royalton in the Division I State Championship Game.

Last season, behind some small ball, a sound defense and strong work out of the bullpen, the Cats defeated Jackson, 3-2, at the Polar Bears' baseball-rich facility. Coach Ganor described the victory as a "collective effort."

Although St. Edward came away with an impressive 9-1 regular season victory over Saint Ignatius last season at The Pipe Yard in Lorain County, the Wildcats won the big one, a 2-0 triumph over the Eagles in a Division I Regional Semifinal on Ron Mottl Field. Among the Cats' heroes were then senior shortstop Jake Kucia (now at Case Western Reserve University) with a defensive game for the ages and current standout senior right-hander and tri-captain Murphy O'Brien, who came out of the bullpen and recorded his school-record 10th save of the season.

Now a starter, "Murph" is expected to be on the mound versus Jackson on Friday.

St. Edward is under the direction of first-year Head Coach Matt Rosinski, a former standout pitcher for Saint Ignatius and Miami of Ohio University, and a former Assistant Coach for the Wildcats.               

   

 

A tough week in Florida comes to an end for Saint Ignatius Baseball, as the Cats are defeated by Lakewood Ranch from Bradenton, 9-2, early Thursday evening
3/31/2016

By Eddie Dwyer

Fairview Park, Ohio - Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats, who now stand 0-4 on the season, were outscored by their four opponents this week - Venice (Fla.), Tampa Jesuit, St. Peter's Prep Jesuit out of Jersey City, New Jersey and Lakewood Ranch - by a combined runs total of 29-5.

After St. Peter's Prep rode an eight-run top of the eighth to a 10-2 victory this morning, Lakewood Ranch jumped on the Cats early.

The Mustangs rode a passed ball, a fielder's choice and a sacrifice fly to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and scored three more runs in the bottom of the second by bunting a runner home from third and taking advantage of an error that resulted in two runs.

Errors plagued the Wildcats all week.

Lakewood Ranch pushed its lead to 8-0 in a two-run third inning that was highlighted by an RBI double.

Saint Ignatius, which has three games on tap next week in Ohio - at Boardman on April 6th, at Massillon Jackson on April 8th and versus longtime West Side rival St. Edward on April 9th at Don Mills Field in Strongsville, scored its two runs in the top of the fourth inning.

It was reported that one of those two runs was the result of Danny Adler stealing home plate and the second run was courtesy of a rip city RBI single off the first baseman's glove by Erik Demchuk that scored Jack Siefert.

We wish Coach Ganor, his staff, the Wildcats, Team Manager and Stats guru George Martin '16, along with the SIBN crew, a safe return to the best location in the nation.

God be willing, this old-timer is looking forward to covering and reporting on the Cats in Boardman and of course versus the Eagles of St. Edward.

Gentlemen, I've bee around too many excellent baseball teams who experienced just what you did this week. Learn from it, shake it off, cleanup the errors and we'll show everyone over the next two months just how talented the 2016 Baseball Cats are.            

 

St. Peter's Prep of New Jersey scores eight runs in the top of the eighth inning and defeats Saint Ignatius Baseball, 10-2, on Thursday morning. The Cats (0-3) will close out their Florida trip with a 4 PM first pitch versus Lakewood Ranch in Bradenton
3/31/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer

Cleveland, Ohio - St. Peter's Prep, New Jersey's Jesuit School since 1872, got to the Wildcats' bullpen, to say the least.

After Saint Ignatius knotted the score at 2 on an RBI single by junior shortstop Alec Guy that scored pinch runner Ryan Jacobs in the bottom of the sixth, the Jesuit Schools played a scoreless seventh inning. A double by junior infielder/pitcher Jack Siefert set up Alec's clutch hit.

St. Peter's Prep, whose baseball resume includes two state championships and 11 county titles, including seven since 2000, moved to a 5-2 lead in the top of the eighth on a two-run single and an RBI infield hit.

It was then Katy Bar The Door, as five more Marauders crossed the plate in the commanding eighth inning. Yes, the season is young, but miscues in the field continue to hamper Saint Ignatius.

St. Peter's Prep, which can also get it done on the gridirons of New Jersey, trailed, 1-0, after Wildcats junior third baseman Griffin Hunt delivered a sacrifice fly that scored senior outfielder Dan Volpe. Griffin's RBI came after Saint Ignatius failed to take advantage of a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the third.

The Marauders took a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning on a two-run triple and the stage was set for the finish described above.

A bright spot for the Wildcats this morning was the pitching of rich-in-promise junior right-hander Braydon Nelson (6-foot-4, 200 pounds). Braydon pitched five strong innings before turning the mound over to the bullpen.

Saint Ignatius will close out its Easter Break trip to Florida this afternoon when it takes on the Lakewood Ranch Mustangs at 4 PM in Bradenton.

The Mustangs have been struggling to stay above .500 as of late.

Here is how Wildcats outstanding Team Manager and Statistician George Martin saw Thursday morning's game: The Wildcats lose a tough and disappointing game to St. Peter's Prep. 

Wildcats were busy on the base paths as they totaled 6 hits and accumulated 4 walks. Jack Siefert had a huge momentum swinging double in the 6th that led to Alec Guy's single to score Ryan Jacobs. It was not enough though as the defensive side seemed to struggle at the end.

Braydon Nelson started the game for the Wildcats and pitched phenomenal. With 5 innings of work, 5 hits and 1K, he allowed no earned runs. Also, he had great location only allowing 1 walk. Four errors hurt the Cats in both the top of the 6th and the top of the 8th. Ten walks also hurt a chance for a win.

St. Peter's Prep executed to score 8 runs in extras to secure the win, taking advantage of errors and walks. With 9 total hits and only one error, the Marauders played clean baseball to land a victory of Saint Ignatius.      

 

Saint Ignatius Baseball slips to 0-2 on the season after losing to Tampa Jesuit, 6-1, on Wednesday evening in what was the Cats' second game of their Easter Break trip to Florida
3/31/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer

Fairview Park, Ohio - Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a RBI single off the capable bat of promising junior left fielder Ryan Jacobs. Ryan's RBI scored senior catcher and tri-captain Dennis Grosel, who had singled.

The Tigers of Tampa Jesuit, ranked 25th in the PerfectGame.org Top 50 National Rankings, knotted the score in the bottom of the second and rode bases-loaded sacrifice flies to a 3-1 lead before sealing it with three more tallies in the late innings.

Wednesday night's game was played in one the most atmosphere-rich high school baseball facilities in the nation, Tampa Jesuit's Paul Straub Field at Hyer Family Park.

The Wildcats will close out their Easter Break trip with a doubleheader on Thursday in Bradenton, Florida.

At 9 AM, the Cats will face St. Peter's Prep, New Jersey's Jesuit High School since 1872, and at 4 PM it's a matchup with the Lakewood Ranch (Bradenton, Fla.) Mustangs. For a look at St. Peter's Prep and Lakewood Ranch High School, see the corner's glance right bellow this post.

Thursday's games will be brought to you live over the Saint Ignatius Broadcast Network.

HERE IS HOW THE WILDCATS' OUTSTANDING TEAM MANAGER AND STATISTICIAN GEORGE MARTIN '16 SAW WEDNESDAY NIGHT'S GAME ON PAUL STRAUB FIELD.

The Wildcats came out ready to play tonight and the final score doesn't give credit to the intense game that was played in Tampa.

Wildcats batting immensely improved from the first game as the Cats had 6 hits and 1 run.

NOTE FROM THE CORNER: SAINT IGNATIUS WAS LIMITED TO ONE HIT IN MONDAY'S 4-0 LOSS TO THE VENICE (FLA.) INDIANS.

Dennis Grosel kept the 1st inning alive with a single and from there scored off a Ryan Jacobs single. Also, Nick Freund and Joe Evans had singles as well. George Asadorian was the big hitter tonight as he scorched 2 doubles before going down with an apparent hamstring injury.

But in the end, momentum could not stay on the Wildcats' side. Two Wildcats were caught stealing and a lack of execution hurt Saint Ignatius tonight.

The pitching was in question as the staff gave up 11 combined walks.

St. Ignatius ace, Murphy O'Brien, started the game tonight and pitched 3.1 innings. Location was a struggle tonight as Murphy gave up 5 walks, but had 3 Ks before getting pulled. He had a total of 67 pitches with 37 strikes and 30 balls. He gave up 2 hits and had 1 earned run.

Erik Demchuk came in to pitch two thirds of the 4th inning and 1/3 of the 5th before getting replaced by sophomore Tommy Grosel. Demchuk gave up 1 hit, 1 earned run, and 3 walks. Grosel came in to work 1.2 innings and had 1 K, 2 hits, and 0 earned runs. Defensive miscues allowed for 3 runs to score while Grosel was on the mound.

The Jesuit Tigers had 5 hits and mainly executed off errors and walks. Alex Mocny was the hit Tiger as he had 2 singles.

Jesuit High pitching, although giving up 6 hits, was dominate with a total of 7 Ks. Jack Anderson pitched 6 innings and shut down 5 Wildcats. He had 83 pitches with 58 strikes and 25 balls. He gave up 6 hits and 1 earned run.  

     

 

Varsity Baseball game versus Sarasota (FL) has been rained out
3/29/2016

The Wildcats vs. Sailors game has been rained out in Sarasota, Florida on Tuesday night. 

Coach Ganor's Wildcats will look to get back to playing baseball on Wednesday night when they face their Jesuit rivals in the Tampa (FL) Jesuit Tigers at 7:00 at beautiful Paul Straub Field at Hyer Family Park. The game will be live on the Saint Ignatius Broadcast Network. 

Wildcats Baseball is defeated by the Venice (Fla.) Indians, 4-0, in the season opener on Monday night at Venice High School
3/29/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, with comments to the corner from Head Coach Brad Ganor and an up-close breakdown on Monday's game from Wildcats' outstanding Statistician and Team Manager George Martin '16.

Fairview Park, Ohio - Venice, ranked 29th in the nation by PerfectGame.org, has won three Florida State Baseball Championships in the past four years, and a number of state titles before that.

The Indians complied a 29-3 record in route to another state crown last season, an effort that earned them a third-place spot in Baseball America's 2015 Top 50 Rankings.

Saint Ignatius opened its new season after finishing 27-6 last year and advancing to the OHSAA Division I state baseball final four for the fifth time under veteran skipper Brad Ganor, and the 12th time overall. Those 27 victories included a 15-game winning streak.

Up next for the Baseball Cats is Tuesday's game at Sarasota (Fla.) High School. The first pitch is scheduled for 7 PM and the game will be broadcast live by the Saint Ignatius Broadcast Network.

Junior right-hander Braydon Nelson (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) will take the mound for the Wildcats.

Sarasota's Sailors are currently ranked second in the State of Florida by MaxPreps.

Six members oft the current Sarasota team will be furthering their educations and baseball careers at the next level.

They are Grant Horwitz who recently committed to San Diego State University, Nick Derr (FSU), Nick Long (UF), Andrew Jones (FAU), Adam Imwalle (SCF) and Vaun Brown (Florida Sourhern).

Derr, Long and Jones were invited to compete in the Florida Elite Showcase back in mid-October and didn't disappoint. The Florida Elite is one of the most prestigious and longest running showcases in the State of Florida.

FROM GEORGE MARTIN '16: The Cats started the season slow tonight. They couldn't get a feel at the plate and had some mental errors on the field. First game jitters were definitely in play. 

The Wildcats had one hit - Joe Evans' (senior second baseman) hard line drive to right center. The Cats got picked off 3 times at first as well, and left men on 3rd twice. They had a total of 10 strikeouts and many ground outs to a talented 2nd basemen in Venice's Scott Dubrule.

Wildcat pitching did well. Adams (junior southpaw and Louisville recruit Connor Adams) had 4.1 innings of work with 4 strikeouts. He had 72 pitches with 41 strikes and 31 balls. He gave up 4 total hits and 2 earned runs. Connor yielded a home run to Jacob Grubbs to right field. Griffin Hunt came in during the 5th for 2 innings of work. He had 1 strikeout and gave up 1 hit and 1 earned run.

Tommy Grosel (sophomore right-hander) looked great tonight in finishing a tough game. He pitched 1.0 inning and had a strikeout. He did not yield a hit. In total, the Cats' pitching had 6 strikeouts, 4 runs, and 3 earned runs. The Cats' defense had 2 errors that gave Venice momentum. 

Venice pitched exceptionally well. Caleb Williams started off the game by pitching 5 innings with 5 Ks and 1 hit. He had a total of 72 pitches with 44 strikes and 28 balls. The Indians' Trevor Holloway came on in relief for an inning. He had 3 Ks. Brad Jones ended the game by pitching the 7th and striking out two Wildcats. In total, Venice had 10 strikeouts and gave up 1 hit.

Venice batting did well also The Indians had 5 hits and showed their Florida speed with 3 stolen bases. Grubbs' HR in the bottom of the fourth gave Venice a 2-0 lead. Also, Shane Shifflet doubled in the bottom of the 4th to continue the Indians' momentum.

All in all, the Cats played well for their first game when you compare the fact that Venice is midway through its season. With some cleaning up to do, the Cats have a shot to leave Florida on a high note.

FROM COACH GANOR: "They are very good," said Coach Ganor of Venice. "They showed why they have won so many state championships. We weren't as sharp defensively as we will be in a couple of weeks. But I would rather open the season against teams like this than go beat up on somebody. I wouldn't have it any other way."



 

Wildcats' new field at Baldwin-Wallace dedicated to a longtime former coach of the Yellow Jackets
3/26/2016

Posted by Brendan DeVenney '17

Here is a news article from Baldwin-Wallace University Athletics on the new field that Wildcat Baseball will be playing on this spring and its dedication to Robert Fisher, a longtime head coach and professor at Baldwin-Wallace.

BW Set to Dedicate its Baseball Facility as Fisher Field on April 23

BEREA, Ohio -- Baldwin Wallace University will celebrate its newly improved baseball facility and dedicate it as Fisher Field on Saturday, April 23 at 12 noon and prior to its Ohio Athletic Conference doubleheader versus Capital University at 1 p.m. The field is being named after longtime professor and coach Robert "Bob" Fisher. All alumni, parents, friends and fans are invited to take part.

The event will feature the unveiling of a plaque indicating the naming of Fisher Field as well as the name appearing just behind home plate. Several speakers will kickoff the event.  A reception will both preceed and follow the dedication ceremony. The first pitch between BW and Capital is at 1 p.m.

Work began this winter and is currently being completed on an all-turf infield that extends from the backstop to the outfield area. That area will be ready for play in late March or early April.  The hope is to add the outfield turf, a warning track and new fence once additional fundraising is secured.

The Fisher Field baseball facility fundraising project began in January of 2016 and is on-going. In total the facility improvement project will give the Yellow Jacket baseball program a distinct playing and recruiting advantage. It gives the Yellow Jacket program the ability to play games when other schools cannot due to the weather restrictions in Ohio (BW will be the only Ohio Athletic Conference school with a turf infield). It also will give the BW baseball student-athlete a safer facility (the turf's life is estimated between 10-to-16 years).

CLICK HERE to make a donation to help make the next phase of the "Coach Robert Fisher Baseball Field Project" a success.

Fisher retired in 2010 after 42 seasons as head coach of the Baldwin-Wallace College baseball program. Coach Fisher was the winningest head coach in the history of the College for any sport with an amazing 700 career wins (700-641-14 overall).  For 42 years, Fisher built the Yellow Jacket program into one of the best in the Ohio Athletic Conference, Mideast Region of Division III and all of NCAA Division III. In addition to being one of the top baseball coaches in Div. III, Coach Fisher was a longtime assistant coach and the defensive coordinator for B-W's highly successful football program.

Fisher had many outstanding moments on the diamond at B-W and on the road. On May 4, 2010 in Berea, Fisher won his 700th career game when the Yellow Jackets defeated Muskingum University, 7-0, in game one of a doubleheader at Heritage Field. He was selected by his fellow OAC coaches as the OAC Coach of the Year four times. Fourteen of his teams won 20 or more contests. Both his 1991 and 2002 teams set and then tied the school-record for wins in a season with 25. B-W advanced to the NCAA Division III Regional Tournament four times and the OAC Playoffs 16 times.

The highlight of Fisher's career came in the spring of 1985, and also was the biggest day in BW baseball history. His top-seeded and host Yellow Jackets, faced elimination in the OAC Tournament. Due to weather complications and an impending NCAA Div. III Tournament decision by the selection committee, Fisher's team had to pull off the impossible -- win a tripleheader on a Sunday, including two straight wins versus OAC arch-rival Marietta College -- to win the OAC Tournament title and earn a berth, its first of three in four years, to the NCAA tourney.

In the classroom, Fisher developed a reputation as an outstanding instructor and spent a number of years as the faculty chair of the Division of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.  Fisher received his master's degree from Kent State University in 1968 and his doctorate in health education from The Ohio State University in 1988. He was a professor of health education and an Academic Program Coordinator for the health promotion and education major. Fisher also was a member of numerous professional associations in health promotion and education.

This story was edited by SID Kevin Ruple with the help of BW Academic All-American Guy Fisher '91
 

 

A seasoned group of seniors, big-game tested arms and youth that is expected to be served this spring. It's the 2016 Saint Ignatius Varsity Baseball Preview.
3/17/2016

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit March 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - When asked if there were any of the younger players who have really pleased or impressed him during the  preseason, Saint Ignatius Head Baseball Coach Brad Ganor quickly responded: "Yeah, all of them that are on the roster."

Saint Ignatius, coming off a 2015 campaign that saw it make its fifth State Final Four appearance under Coach Ganor, who is now in his 12th season as the Wildcats' skipper, will build around six seasoned veterans, 10 seniors overall, a gifted junior class and one sophomore.  

Showing the way will be three of the finest Captains in Saint Ignatius' rich history on the diamond - senior outfielder Michael Rogers, senior right-handed pitcher and St. Bonaventure University recruit Murphy O'Brien, and one of the most gifted athletes to ever walk the halls of Saint Ignatius, senior catcher Dennis Grosel. Dennis, a First-Team Division I All-Ohio quarterback this past fall, can also handle the infield corner positions if called on to do so.

After losing to the Westerville Central Warhawks, 10-5, at Huntington Park in the semifinals of what was the 88th annual OHSAA State Baseball Tournament last June, the Wildcats have not let the sting of that loss fade away. It was a setback that snapped Saint Ignatius' 15-game winning streak.

Instead, the Cats are using it as the motto or motivation to a 2016 season that they have labeled "Unfinished Business."

"I would say it's more so the program motto," said Grosel, who was a major factor in Saint Ignatius finishing 27-6 last spring and advancing to what was the program's 12th overall appearance at the State Baseball Tournament. The Wildcats were state runners-up in 2008 and 2013 under Coach Ganor and Coach Ganor led them to a school-record three consecutive State Final Fours in 2007, '08 and '09.

Saint Ignatius' only State Baseball Championship came in the spring of 2002 under former Wildcat baseball and basketball mainstay Brian Morgan. Coach Morgan's 2000 team was a state runner-up. Coach Ganor was a Pitching Coach/Assistant Coach for Coach Morgan before taking over the Varsity helm in 2005.

"We've thought it through and thought it through again about what it takes to get the job done (a state baseball championship), since we've only got it done once," Grosel said. "We've been saying it (Unfinished Business) all year and using it as motivation in the weight room. Just coming into practice with a mindset that we have to do more than last year and more than we've ever done (the current players) to finish our business."

O'Brien, a talented, tough-minded and gregarious athlete, said the feeling of that loss to Westerville Central in the state semifinals last year was "the worst." Murphy, whose dominant work out of the bullpen was a huge key in the Wildcats improving from a District Final loss in 2014 to a State Final Four last spring, will be taking the mound as a starter this year.

Last season, as Coach Ganor's closer/stopper, O'Brien was 1-0 and a perfect 10-for-10 in save opportunities with those 10 saves being an all-time Wildcats best. "Murph" also totaled 28 strikeouts and just three base on balls in 21.1 innings pitched. He had a .328 earned run average.

O'Brien sees one of the major roles that he and his fellow captains face is helping develop the team's chemistry.

"You can have all of the talent in the world, but I was never closer to a group of guys in my life than last year's team," O'Brien said. "The juniors coming up, there is a lot of talent there, but we have to jell together."

As far as Rogers is concerned, the responsibility lies in "showing them what Varsity baseball is all about," that it is not JV Baseball anymore.

"All practices have to be intense," said Rogers, who will be furthering his education and baseball career at Ashland University. "We need to go 100 percent so when we do get into a game situation, we can handle anything. They have to realize that the Varsity game is faster than any game they've played thus far."

Like O'Brien, Rogers is taking on a new role this spring, moving from right field to center field, where he will replace the outstanding Sam Fuller from the Class of 2015. Sam has already been named a Captain at St. Bonaventure as just a freshman. Sam was definitely one of the finest to roam center field at the high school level that this old-timer has ever seen. His bat and base running skills were also game changers.  

Speaking like a true quarterback, Grosel pointed to the infield, where there is only one returning starter, senior third baseman Kevin Mingus. Kevin also might see some time at shortstop.

The ace of the starting pitching staff will be junior left-hander Connor Adams, a University of Louisville recruit. The gifted and good-natured Adams was 7-1 in 10 starts last season. He yielded 33 hits and eight earned runs  in 53.1 innings pitched, struck out 45 and walked 16. His ERA was 1.050.

Connor's big moments in 2015 came when he fired a no-hitter versus a solid-hitting Midpark team in the Strongsville District Championship Game and threw a gritty four-hitter in the 3-1 triumph over Toledo St. Francis de Sales at the Bowling Green Regional Championship/State Qualifying Game.

In Grosel and big-game tested junior outfielder Ryan Jacobs, the Wildcats have a nice 1-2 punch.

Jacobs hit 349 last spring and Grosel delivered a .388 batting average that included 33 hits in 30 games, 22 walks, seven doubles, two home runs, 20 runs batted in and 21 runs scored.

Another name to remember is senior right-handed pitcher/outfielder Nick Freund, who went 4-1 last year with a 3.203 ERA.

"I see George Asadorian as being a big bat for us," said Coach Ganor in reference to his senior first baseman/designated hitter. "In (senior) Joe Evans, it's his job to lose at second base and we're looking for Rich McGraw (6-foot-4 senior left-hander) and senor outfielder Dan Volpe to make significant contributions."

Coach Ganor also referred to one of the great stories on his Wildcats Baseball Team, John Robinson.

John, after being cut from the team last year, asked Coach Ganor if he could stay connected with the program as a volunteer bullpen catcher last spring. Now a senior, John has earned a roster spot as a backup catcher and a bat off the bench with possible designated hitter opportunities. John was also a 220-pound wrestler for Coach Mark Sullivan's high rising program this winter, leaving everything he had on the mat.

"He was at every game and every practice last year, which is a real testament to him," said Grosel of Robinson. "It's not because he was a bullpen catcher that he got the spot this year. He definitely came and earned it."

AS COACH GANOR SEES HIS 2016 WILDCATS: "I wouldn't say there are any concerns," said the veteran skipper, who excelled in football and baseball at St. Edward High School and went to pitch for the Cleveland State University Vikings.

"It's the ability of the seniors to continue to do what they are capable of doing and we need some juniors to fill some holes for us, whether it's in the middle infield, the outfield, a corner spot or on the mound," Coach Ganor continued. "I think it's just us getting those juniors to take their game to another level. The expectations are high in the Saint Ignatius program and if you're a member of the program, we expect you to be able to fill those roles."

MURPHY O'BRIEN ON GOING FROM THE CLOSER/STOPPER ROLE TO A STARTER: "It's definitely going to be different because of the stamina. You definitely have to be able to go five or six innings, maybe seven, instead of one or two innings. I'm really excited. I've been working really hard."

MIKE ROGERS ON MOVING FROM RIGHT FIELD TO THE CENTER FIELD: "I've been working on my speed a lot in the offseason. Sam (Fuller) was one of the best outfielders I ever played with, if not the best. No one in the outfield is going to have that type of speed this year, so as a group we've been working on getting better reads on balls, trying to cut balls off in the gap and plays along those lines, like getting the ball in quick."

YOUNG CATS: Some of the many names to remember among the young faces are 6-4 right-handed junior pitcher/infielder Braydon Nelson, who is expected to pitch some big innings this year; junior infielder/right-handed pitcher Eric Demchuk, who saw some varsity time last season; junior infielders Christion Ramos and Mark Geraci; junior right-hander pitcher/infielder Griffin Hunt; junior right-handed pitcher/infielder Jack Siefert; and great program guys in junior infielder Joe Gutbrod, a grandson of the late St. Joseph High School Hall of Fame Football Coaching legend Bill Gutbrod, and junior infielder/outfielder Alec Guy.

Also, keep an eye on sophomore outfielder Justin Sands, who swings a more than capable bat and plays a solid outfield. Justin is also a promising safety in football.

ON THE MEND: Junior catcher Jeff Chonko, a great teammate, is injured and is hoping to work his way back for his senior season.

AND COUNTING: Coach Ganor enters this season with 249 career victories.

FLORIDA BOUND: The Wildcats open their season in Florida over the Easter Break with games versus Venice in Sarasota on March 28 at 7 PM, versus Sarasota on March 29 at 7 PM, versus Tampa Jesuit in Tampa on March 30 at 7 PM, and versus Lakewood Ranch in Bradenton on March 31 at 4 PM.

ROAD WARRIORS: The Cats stay on the road when they come home with games at Boardman on April 6 at 5 PM and at Massillon Jackson on April 8 at 5 PM. In what is an early meeting this year, Saint Ignatius and St. Edward get together on April 9 at 2 PM in the Northern Ohio complex. That's followed by an April 13th trip to Massillon to face the Tigers at 5 PM.

THE ANNUAL VISIT TO PROGRESSIVE FIELD:  In what is part of the annual Cleveland Indians Charities High School Hardball Classic, the Cats will take on the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Bees on April 22nd at 5:30 PM at the corner of Ontario and Carnegie.

For a look at the complete schedule, go to ignatius.edu, click on athletics and click on baseball.

Have a great spring season and this old catcher will see you at all the fields of our dreams.  

 

 

We're talking baseball. Coach Brad Ganor releases his 2016 schedule
9/12/2015

By Eddie Dwyer

Here is the 2016 Spring Schedule as the Baseball Cats look to return to the OHSAA final four after a state-semifinal appearance this past June.

2016 REGULAR SEASON

Florida Trip

March 28 @ Venice Sarasota, FLA 7:00 PM

March 29 @ Sarasota, FLA 7:00 PM

March 30 @ Lakewood Ranch High School, Bradenton, FLA 4:00 PM

March 30 @ Jesuit Tampa, FLA 7:00 PM

April 6 @ Boardman HS 5:00 PM
April 8 @ Massillon Jackson HS 5:00 PM
April 9 Versus St. Edward at The Pipe Yard 5:00 PM
April 13 @ Massillon Washington HS 5:00 PM
April 14 Versus Youngstown Ursuline at Baldwin Wallace University 5:00 PM
April 16 @Upper Arlington HS 12:30 PM
April 16 Versus Grove City at Upper Arlington HS 3:00 PM
April 19 Versus St. Vincent-St. Mary in Classic Park 5:00 PM
April 20 Versus Mentor in Classic Park 5:00 PM
April 23 @ The Ohio Jesuit Tournament, St. Xavier HS TBD
April 24 @ The Ohio Jesuit Tournament, St. Xavier HS TBD
April 26 Versus Holy Name at Baldwin Wallace University 5:00 PM
April 29 @ Strongsville HS 5:00 PM
April 30 @ Erie Cathedral Prep, Ainsworth Field 1:30 PM
May 3 Versus Canton Central Catholic in Classic Park 5:00 PM
May 4 Versus Valley Forge at Tri-C West 5:00 PM
May 5 Versus Eastlake North in Classic Park 5:00 PM
May 6 Versus Avon at The Pipe Yard 6:30 PM
May 7 TBD at The Pipe Yard
May 10 Versus Kirtland at Baldwin Wallace University 5:00 PM
May 11 Versus Avon Lake at Baldwin Wallace University 5:00 PM
May 12 Versus Willoughby South in Classic Park 5:00 PM
May 14 Versus Tallmadge at Baldwin Wallace University, Time TBD
May 16 Versus Brecksville-Broadview Heights at Baldwin Wallace University, 4:30 PM
 
OHSAA POSTSEASON TOURNAMENT DATES
 
May 11-12 Sectional, site and time TBD
May 18-19 District, site and time TBD

May 26-27 Regional, site and time TBD

June 2-4 State Semifinals and Finals, Huntington Park in Columbus, times TBD

 

An outstanding season comes to an end for Saint Ignatius Baseball, as the Cats are defeated by Westerville Central, 10-5, in Thursday's Division I State Semifinal at Huntington Park in Columbus
6/4/2015

The 88th annual OHSAA State Baseball Tournament is being played in Huntington Park, the home of the Indians' Class AAA affiliate, the Columbus Clippers.

By Eddie Dwyer

The Wildcats, making their 12th overall appearance in the OHSAA's baseball final four, found themselves trailing, 9-0, after five innings.

Saint Ignatius got back in the game with a five-run top of the sixth that featured a one-out, two-run single by standout senior center fielder Sam Fuller and a two-out, two-run double by gifted junior first basemen Dennis Grosel.

The day belonged to Westerville Central, however, as the Warhawks continued their magical ride through the OHSAA tournament after scoring their 10th run in the bottom of the sixth and setting the Cats down in order in the top of the seventh.

A program that is just in its 12th year of existence, Warhawks Baseball (now 25-4), in what is its first appearance at the state tournament, advances to Saturday's 10 AM Division I Championship Game versus seven-time state champion Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (30-3). The Warkawks' previous highest finish in the OHSAA postseason baseball tournament was a Regional runner-up in 2011. Archbishop Moeller advanced to another title game by defeating Aurora, 6-1, in Thursday afternoon's semifinal at Huntington Park.

Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats, who were making their fifth trip to the final four in what was Coach Ganor's 11th year as the head of Saint Ignatius' baseball program, close their memorable season at 27-6. The Cats entered the matchup with Westerville Central on a 15-game winning streak.

Under the direction of Head Coach Jeff Kiefer, the Warhawks certainly weren't intimidated by the atmosphere of the state semifinals, as they came out swinging and made themselves right at home in the baseball-rich minor league facility in downtown Columbus.

Leading, 1-0, entering the bottom of the third inning, Westerville Central sent nine batters to the plate in its half of the third en route to scoring five more runs. Among the big swings for the Warhawks were a two-run triple by University of Toledo recruit Jeremiah Clarke, an RBI single by Florida Southern recruit Nick Buchanan and a two-run triple by Kyle Kiefer, Coach Kiefer's son.

Westerville Central, a member of the Ohio Capital Conference, stretched its lead to 9-0 with a three-run fifth that was highlighted by a one-out, two-run double by Drew Wallace.

Saint Ignatius showed the heart that drove it throughout the postseason by giving its faithful new life with a five-run top of the sixth. Along with the above-mentioned big hits by Fuller and Grosel, the Cats started the top of the sixth with back-to-back base hits by senior catcher/captain Alex Panstares and gritty senior shortstop Jake Kucia.

A total comeback wasn't in the cards, however, as a leadoff walk, a two-out single by Buchanan and an error gave the Warhawks a five-run cushion entering the top of the seventh, where Coach Kiefer's bullpen said no more.

We would be remiss not to mention the effort of Westerville Central's talented and tough-minded junior right-hander Gavin Lyon, who, before tiring a bit in the top of the sixth, was a bulldog.

Lyon, who has already committed to The Ohio State University, went 5 1/3 innings. He threw 110 pitches, 80 of which were strikes, and struck out 12.

Saint Ignatius southpaw Connor Adams, who put together a sophomore season that included a no-hitter over Berea-Midpark in the district finals, a combined no-hitter during the regular season and a strong complete-game performance in last week's 3-1 triumph over Toledo St. Francis de Sales in the Bowling Green regional final, experienced his first loss in eight decisions this spring.

Each team had 10 hits, with the Wildcats committing three errors and the Warhawks two.

Bound for St. Bonaventure on a baseball scholarship, the multi-skilled Fuller went 3-for-3 with two stolen bases. Kucia, who is going to further his education and baseball career at Case Western University, had three hits in four at-bats.

"The Westerville pitcher was very good today," said Coach Ganor. "He was able to get out of a couple early jams. We had some chances early on, but just couldn't get the ball to bounce our way.

"They were able to make us pay for some defensive mistakes and capitalized on early walks," Coach Ganor continued. "I have said it before and I will say it again. The 2015 baseball team stands on its own and I am so proud to be the head coach at Saint Ignatius."

This old-timer would like to thank Coach Ganor, Coach Mark Terlep, Coach John Whelan, Coach Matt Blazer, Team Chaplin Drew Vilinsky, Wildcats outstanding Athletics Director Rory Fitzpatrick and all of the parents and families connected to Saint Ignatius Baseball for the privilege to have covered a team that took over a special place in my heart and mind - the 2015 Baseball Cats.

I would also like to express how grateful I am for having the privilege to have worked with Saint Ignatius' tireless Student Manager Kyle Kostura '15 in both baseball and football these past few years. Kyle was and is the best of the best.

A huge Thank You also goes out to Wildcats' Baseball Stats guru George Martin '17 and Saint Ignatius' Student Baseball Broadcasters Joltin' Joe Mertens '15, who will be furthering his education and broadcasting career at Mount Union, and Brendan DeVenney, who will be entering his junior year at Cleveland Jesuit's Preparatory School later this summer. No one knows baseball better than Joe and the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcast Network is in solid hands and voice the next few years, as Brendan has developed into a savvy and tell-it-like-it-is broadcaster.

If The Lord and Saint Ignatius' administration are willing, I hope to return to my corner for the Wildcats' 2015-16 sports season, starting with the football mini camps and two-a-days this summer.

In the words of the late, great Plain Dealer Stark County Columnist and Canton radio legend Hymie Williams, "Goodbye until the next time, which will be the best time." 

 

WILDCAT BASEBALL IS STATE BOUND!
5/30/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit May 2015

Coach Brad Ganor's Baseball Cats, behind a dramatic two-run top of the seventh inning that featured a clutch double by resilient junior outfielder Mike Rogers and a perfectly executed bunt by senior outfielder Dylan Smolen that produced the go-ahead run, defeated Toledo St. Francis de Sales, 3-1, in Friday's Reginal Final matchup at Bowling Green State University. 

Saint Ignatius, which will take a record of 27-5 and a 15-game winning streak into Thursday's 10 AM Division I state semifinal game versus the Westerville Central Warhawks (25-6) at Huntington Park in Columbus, also benefited from the gritty four-hit pitching of sophomore left-hander Connor Adams, who now stands 7-0 on the season. 

Thursday's matchup with Westerville Central will mark the fifth state final four appearance in what is Coach Ganor's 11th season as Saint Ignatius' skipper. The Cats were state runners-up in 2008 and 2013 under Coach Ganor and set a school record by making three consecutive trips to the final four in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Overall, this will be Saint Ignatius' 12th trip to baseball's final four. The Cats won the Division I state championship under Head Coach Brian Morgan in 2002.

HERE IS A LOOK AT SAINT IGNATIUS' REGIONAL FINAL TRIUMPH, WHICH STARTED WITH A FIRST-PITCH TEMPERATURE OF 82 DEGREES.

It was a cold and windy opening day at Dublin Jerome High School when Saint Ignatius junior outfielder Mike Rogers was hit in the right eye off an errant pickoff attempt while on second base.

Mike would suffer what was diagnosed as an orbital floor fracture and would miss eight games over the next two weeks. He also required stitches above his right eye.

After returning to the lineup, Mike, the essence of a team player, was wearing protective glasses. Those glasses couldn't distract from his energy and love for the game.

Friday evening, with his team locked in a 1-1 tie with a scrappy bunch of Knights from St. Francis de Sales and a trip to the Division I state tournament on the line, Mike, a player who cherishes every moment he is on the diamond, delivered big time for his teammates and coaches.

With one out and the bases empty in the top of the seventh inning, Saint Ignatius' gritty senior shortstop Jake Kucia drew a walk. Rogers followed with an authoritative double to left-center field that put runners on second and third. Mike entered the game in the fifth inning as Wildcats Head Coach Brad Ganor wanted his top three defensive outfielders - Rogers in right field, senior Dylan Smolen in left and senior Sam Fuller in center - to be together down the stretch of a tension-filled game.

After Rogers' impressive hit, Smolen laid down a text-book bunt to the left side that brought home the go-ahead run as the Knights were unable to make a play at the plate.

Smolen would steal second on a pitch in the dirt and then, in what was a perfect example of heads-up base running, Smolen gave himself up between second and third on a ground ball to the left side with two outs, forcing the infielder into a run down that saw the Cats' third run score before the tag was applied on Smolen.

That was more than enough support for Saint Ignatius' talented and tough-mined sophomore southpaw Connor Adams, who closed the show with a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh.

The good-natured and well-read Adams went the distance in yielding four hits, one run and walking two. He had one strikeout and needed just 77 pitches to win his seventh game of the season against no defeats. Forty nine of those 77 pitches were strikes and the majority of them were fastballs. I'll say it again, remember the name my friends.  

Friday evening's encounter with St. Francis was quite different from the 2013 regional-final meeting between the Wildcats and the Knights, which saw Saint Ignatius walk off Ron Mottl Field at Cuyahoga Community College-West with a 14-0 triumph.

Fuller, one of the top players in the entire area and a St. Bonaventure recruit, led off the top of the first by lacing a 2-0 pitch into deep center field for a triple. Sam would score the game's first run by beating the throw home off a ground ball to the right side.

St. Francis, which closed its season at 23-9, knotted the score in the bottom of the fourth on a one-out, bases-loaded bunt to the right side by senior third baseman Nick Lankard. Lankard pitched the Knights to a 4-1 victory over Mansfield Madison in Thursday's regional semifinals.

It stayed that way until the decisive top of the seventh.

St. Francis got a strong effort from senior pitcher Casey Johnson, who, like Adams, was able to minimize the damage for most of the game. Johnson yielded five hits.

FROM DYLAN SMOLEN: "Just getting an opportunity to play for this team is a blessing. It's a special group of guys and anything I can do to help this team is really appreciative. At the beginning of the year I was a pitcher only and now I am starting in the outfield. Things have changed dramatically and this ball club has changed dramatically. I like where we're at right now. I think we can do a lot of things."

FROM MIKE ROGERS: "I was really excited to get back," said Rogers, a Lakewood resident who returned to the lineup in mid-April versus the Rangers in storied Lakewood Stadium. "I know a lot of those guys (the Rangers), so it meant a lot to get back on the field and play in my home town. I was excited and ready to play.

"It was a fastball," Rogers continued in describing his impressive double. "Coach Ganor told me to just trust my swing, that 'We trust in you.'  This means so much that I was able to get Kucia in scoring position for Dylan in such a big game. Probably the biggest base hit in my career by far."

FROM COACH GANOR: "I told Michael (Rogers) when we had that conference there that 'I believe in you.' He never wavered even though he started off the year the way he did with the injury.

"I can't say enough about Connor," Coach Ganor continued. "He is special for a sophomore. He has got the ability to battle and he works with a ton of confidence. I love his innocence,  l truly love just the fact that he is what he is. He doesn't mince any words and says what's on his mind, which is good and bad at times.

"Every year is special," said Coach Ganor, who will enter Thursday's state semifinal with 249 career victories. "But these guys, the 2015 Wildcats, stand on their own right now, they truly do. I am truly blessed to coach at this school."          

            

 

A defensive performance by Jake Kucia that takes its place among the best in Cats Baseball history, another solid effort by starter M.J. Nara and a school-best 10th save on the season by Murphy O'Brien lead the Cats past St. Edward, 2-0, in Regional play
5/29/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit May 2015

From Ron Mottl Field on the campus of Cuyahoga Community College-West

With Thursday's Regional SemifInal victory over the Eagles, Coach Brad Ganor's Cats improve to 26-5, extend their winning streak to 14 games and advance to Friday's Division I Regional Championship Game versus the 23-8 Knights from Toledo St. Francis de Sales.

The first pitch from Bowling Green State University will be 5 PM and sophomore left-hander Connor Adams (6-0) will take the mound for Coach Ganor.

St. Francis, which was defeated by Saint Ignatius, 14-0, in the 2013 Regional Finals, advanced to another Elite Eight  matchup with the Wildcats by defeating Mansfield Madison, 4-1, in Thursday's Regional Semifinal at Bowling Green.

Knights senior Nick Lankard pitched a complete-game two-hitter against Mansfield Madison and scored what turned out to be the game-winning run, as St. Francis senior center fielder John Williams lined a two-strike pitch to right field to score Lankard from second with the first of the Knights' three runs during their rally in the top of the seventh inning.Note: St. Francis' scoring details are courtesy of the Toledo Blade, one of Ohio's outstanding Newspapers, or the entire country for that matter.  

As for Saint Ignatius' run production against St. Edward, Cats junior third baseman Kevin Mingus drew a one-out, bases-loaded walk in the top of the third inning and junior first baseman Dennis Grosel delivered a two-out RBI double down the right-field line in the top of the fifth. The line score read 2-4-1 for the Wildcats and 0-4-0 for the Eagles.

Senior right-hander/captain M.J. Nara improved his record to 7-1 by going 4 1/3 innings, yielding four hits, two walks and throwing 58 pitches, 37 of which were strikes.

Junior right-hander Murphy O'Brien, the ace of the bullpen, went 2 2/3 innings with two strikeouts, a walk and 27 strikes off the 47 pitches he delivered. It was O'Brien's school-best 10th save of the season.

St. Edward junior right-hander Jaret Edwards (now 7-4) went the distance in turning in a gutsy performance for the now 20-10 Eagles. Coach Joe Kasl's team entered Regional play having won 10 of its previous 12 games. Edwards retired the last seven Wildcats he faced after Dennis Grosel's two-out, run-scoring double in the fifth.   

THE TABLE SETTING FOR THE CATS' TWO RUNS: Senior right fielder/left fielder Dylan Smolen led off the top of the third inning with a walk. Senior center fielder Sam Fuller, a St. Bonaventure recruit, then beat out a bunt. The crafty Smolen, seeing that St. Edward was not covering third base after Fuller's bunt, advanced to the hot corner.

After a 1-3 putout put runners on second and third with one out, the Eagles intentionally walked junior first baseman Dennis Grosel and Dennis' cousin, junior third baseman Kevin Mingus, drew the one-out, bases-juiced walk for the 1-0 lead.

In the top of the fifth, Fuller was hit by a pitch with one out. Senior second baseman Mullen Socha doubled to the gap in left-enter field, but Fuller was thrown out at home by two perfect throws from the Eagles. Up stepped Grosel, who went clutch rip city with a two-out RBI double down the right-field line.

HERE IS THE SEQUENCE OF THE JETER-ESQUE PLAYS BY SENIOR SHORTSTOP JAKE KUCIA, WHOSE HARD-NOSED, LEAVE-IT-ALL-ON-THE-FIELD MENTALITY DREW THE PRAISE OF TEAM CHAPLIN DREW VILINSKY '98 THROUGHOUT THE GAME.

Bottom of the first inning: With one out and St. Edward junior shortstop Evan Kayser on third after his leadoff triple, Jake fielded a ground ball and fired the throw home to standout senior catcher/captain Alex Panstares, who applied the tag on Kayser for the second out of the inning.

Bottom of the second inning: Jake took a page right out of Derek Jeter's file, as he recorded the first out of the inning on a perfectly timed leaping one-handed catch near the outfield grass that took away a base hit.

Bottom of the third inning: Jake took the throw from senior pitcher M.J. Nara in a perfect rhythm, stepped on second and fired a strike to Dennis Grosel at first base to complete an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play. Jake would want the corner to tip its cap to Grosel, who started the inning by making a diving stop of a sharp grounder, getting back up and beating the runner to first base for a 3 unassisted.

Bottom of the fourth inning: St. Edward had the bases loaded with not outs, when Grosel caught a pop fly in foul territory for the first out. The next batter slapped the ball up the gut, but Jake was money again, as he made a diving stop while the ball was in the air and tagged second base to end the threat with an unassisted double play.

Bottom of the sixth and seventh innings: After Jake ended the fifth with a 6-3 toss to Grosel, he still had two more web gems to leave on Ron Mottl Field.

With two outs and a runner on first in the bottom of the sixth, the next batter hit a high chopper over the mound that at first eluded Kucia's grasp. However, Jake never gave up the play, as he hustled after the ball and dove to tag out the runner who had broke from first base on the play, but stranded too far off the bag after reaching second base.

And last but not least, with no outs and a pinch runner at second base in the bottom of the seventh, Jake fielded another sharp grounder and, as though he was in the mind of the runner at second, applied the tag as he saw the runner straying off second base and fired a seed to Grosel to complete a double play. The Cats' junior right-hander Murphy O'Brien, Coach Ganor's mainstay out of the bullpen, then ended the game with a strikeout.

FROM JAKE KUCIA:  "In that situation (in the bottom of the seventh), I'm getting the ball and looking him back to see if he goes back. Fortunately he kind of stumbled a little bit and I caught him off guard, tagged him and then threw to one (first base). This is a little surreal.

"This game means everything to me," Jake continued. "I grew up a Saint Ignatius fan, I went to Saint Ignatius because of my uncle (Wildcats Hall of Famer and John J. Wirtz award winner Scott Mutryn '94). I have him to thank for this. Our guys came out and competed. It was a great team win.

"We've been tight since day one," Jake said in reference to Coach Ganor's exceptional senior class. "From day one this season we said it's 'our' team, not one guy's team. We decided to take all of these juniors and sophomores and get them ready for the next level, games like this. I love all of the seniors, juniors and sophomores. It's just a great team."

FROM COACH GANOR: "Jake was phenomenal! He couldn't have been any better, he really couldn't have been. That is one of the best defensive games I have ever seen at Saint Ignatius in 17 years. That was impressive.

"We talk about Ben Jurevicius and some of the plays that he used to make and some of the plays that Jeremy Farrell and Derek Dietrich made, and that (Jake's efforts) is as good as anyone of them," Coach Ganor continued. "They had singular plays and Jake had a whole game of plays. He was just fantastic.

"They have some great players," Coach Ganor said of St. Edward. "They're scrappy and Jaret Edwards pitched a heck of a game. That's two games this year that he has pitched great against us. But the day really rested on M.J. (Nara), Murphy (O'Brien) and Jake."

FROM THE CORNER: Since the 9-1 regular season loss to St. Edward and Jaret Edwards on April17th in The Pipe Yard, Coach Ganor's Cats have won 17 of their last 18 games.      

 

Gifted sophomore left-hander Connor Adams fires a no-hitter at the Titans from Berea-Midpark, as top-seeded Saint Ignatius brings home the Strongsville Division I District Championship by defeating the Titans, 3-0, on Wednesday evening.
5/23/2015

CATS TO FACE ST. EDWARD IN NEXT WEEK'S REGIONAL SEMIFINALS

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit May 2015

Strongsville, Ohio - In pitching his second no-hitter of the season, the gritty and good-natured Connor Adams threw 103 pitches through seven complete innings, 63 of which were strikes.

Adams, who is now 6-0 on the season, walked four and struck out five while working rapidly and confidently. His previous no-hitter this spring was a combined effort in a 7-0 victory over Willoughby South on April 21st in Classic Park. Connor threw six innings against Willoughby South and standout junior right-hander Murphy O'Brien, the ace of the Cats' bullpen, worked a perfect seventh inning that evening.

Saint Ignatius gave its young southpaw all of the support he needed  by scoring its three runs in the bottom of the second inning. Base hits by senior designated hitter Dylan Welch and senior shortstop Jake Kucia got the Wildcats' offense started, as Kucia ripped an RBI single to center field for a 1-0 lead.

Unselfish, sacrificing at-bats by sophomore left fielder Ryan Jacobs and senior right fielder Dylan Smolen produced Saint Ignatius' second and third runs. Like Adams, Jacobs' future is limitless and Smolen continues to carry a hot bat.

Senior catcher Alex Panstares, one of the best behind the dish in all of Northeast Ohio, did a veteran-like job of catching Adams and encouraging him on the diamond and in the dugout. Alex also displayed his exceptional defensive skills, as with runners on first and second and two outs in the top of the fifth he made an authoritative and on-the-money throw to pick off the runner at first base and end the threat. On the receiving end of Panstares' textbook snap throw was his first cousin, talented junior first baseman Dennis Grosel.

Saint Ignatius' defense was superb all around, as its outfielders and infieders allowed Adams to pitch to contact when he needed to. 

With the victory, Coach Brad Ganor's Baseball Wildcats improved to 24-5, extended their winning streak to 12 games and advanced to the 3:30 PM May 28th OHSAA Division I Regional Semifinal at Ron Mottl Field on the campus of Cuyahoga Community College-West.

Saint Ignatius will face West Side rival St. Edward (20-9), which advanced to Regional play by defeating Amherst, 5-1, on Wednesday evening in the Lorain District Championship Game. St. Edward defeated the Cats, 9-1, in a regular season matchup on April 17th at The Pipe Yard in Lorain County.  

"I came into the seventh inning and said to myself if I get the first kid out, I'll be fine," said Adams. "It was really fun and great to just be part of the group and give the seniors another week. I am really comfortable with working fast.

"A fastball outside," Adams continued in reference to the pitches that were clicking for him on Wednesday. "In the first couple of innings my curve was working and then my changeup started working. Just being able to locate spots was the main point. It's been a tremendous experience, especially from the leadership of the seniors who have showed me just how important this experience is, playing high school baseball. It's been phenomenal."

FROM HEAD COACH BRAD GANOR, WHO PICKED UP CAREER VICTORY NO. 246: "Spoken like a veteran," Coach Ganor said of the comments Adams made about Saint Ignatius' mature beyond their years seniors. "He was obviously fantastic today. I didn't realize what the scoreboard had said until about the fifth inning. I looked up and said, 'Oh jeez.'

"Offensively we had that big inning," Coach Ganor continued. "We've been talking about wanting to score first and put the pressure on them, and we did it. I would have been happy with one and we put up three. No matter who you play, where you play or what year it is, this is always a tough game (the district final).  That's a good baseball team full of juniors (the now 15-11 Titans of Berea-Midpark). Between them and North Royalton with their young guys, there is some quality baseball in this district for years to come. But this (the 2015 Wildcats) is a special, special group of kids."        

 

No quit or panic in the Baseball Wildcats! Coach Brad Ganor's Cats, trailing, 2-0, after five innings, score single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings and defeat North Royalton, 3-2, in a Division I District Semifinal on Tuesday afternoon.
5/19/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit May 2015

Strongsville, Ohio - Junior first baseman Dennis Grosel delivered a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the eighth, scoring senior center fielder Sam Fuller, who came racing home from second base with the winning run. Fuller beat out a sharp ground ball to the shortstop with one out and then stole second base.  

Grosel's clutch hit, a shot that went off the tip or top of the third baseman's glove, fell into short left field and Wildcats Head Coach Brad Gannor never hesitated in waving the fleet of foot Fuller home.

Saint Ignatius, which got six solid innings from its No. 1 starter, senior right-hander/captain M.J. Nara, turned to its ace out of the bullpen, junior right-hander Murphy O'Brien, for the seventh and eighth innings.

O'Brien was more than equal to the task, firing two hitless innings that featured three strikeouts, no walks and 17 strikes in the 24 pitches he delivered. A young man who has nine saves on the season, O'Brien celebrated his first victory on the Varsity level.

The Wildcats cut the deficit to 2-1 on an authoritative two-out RBI single to right field by sophomore designated hitter/outfielder Ryan Jacobs in the bottom of the sixth. Senior pinch hitter/infielder James Zajaczkowski led off the bottom of the sixth with a four-pitch walk and junior Dan Volpe, who was pinch running for Zajaczkowski, advanced to second on a wild pitch and came around to score off Jacobs' sweet swing.

Saint Ignatius' talented senior second baseman Mullen Socha, who had three hits on the afternoon, led off the bottom of the seventh with a base hit and advanced to second on a fielder's choice. After North Royalton's multi-skilled shortstop/relief pitcher Alex Sir Louis recorded the second out of the bottom of the seventh with a strikeout, the Bears' defense became unglued and the Cats scored the tying run.

Nara and his counterpart, North Royalton starter David Steward, turned in solid outings. M.J., a Walsh University recruit who entered the game with a 6-1 record, yielded two runs and six hits in the six innings he worked, striking out four and walking four. Nara threw 83 pitches, 53 of which were strikes.

Steward's impressive afternoon included 5 2/3 innings, five hits, an unearned run, six strikeouts, three walks and 62 strikes off the 107 pitches he threw.

The line score on the game read 3-8-0 for the Wildcats and 2-6-3 for the Bears. North Royalton scored its two runs in the top of the third, with the key blow being a one-out, two-run single down the first base line by Sir Louis. A 4-6-3 double play by the Cats prevented a bigger inning.   

Saint Ignatius, which improved its record to 23-5 and extended its winning streak to 11 games, advances to tomorrow's (Wednesday) 4:30 PM District Championship Game at Strongsville High School.

The No. 1 seed at Strongsville, the Wildcats will face third-seeded Berea-Midpark, which defeated second-seeded Strongsville, 2-1, in eight innings in Tuesday evening's District Semifinal at Strongsville. Saint Ignatius defeated Berea-Midpark, 12-2, in a regular season matchup at Berea-Midpark on April 1.  

Gifted sophomore left-hander Connor Adams (5-0) will take the mound for the Cats.

Fourth-seeded North Royalton, which defeated Saint Ignatius, 5-2, in last year's District final at Strongsville and went on to finish as the Division I state runner-up to Massillon Jackson, closed its 2015 season at 13-16.

FROM COACH GANOR: "We were knocking on the door (early), but their kid (Steward) was great. That kid pitched a great game. We made them pay for some mistakes (in the seventh inning). They're a great program. There's a reason they were in the state championship game last year. Brad (Bears Head Coach Brad Klingbeil) does a great job.

"You look at our team, I'm just proud of their ability to fight" Coach Ganor continued. "It's a cliché to say played until the last out, but our guys played till the last out. They certainly do that. Whatever happens from here on out, these guys are a special group. That game right there is just indicative of our entire season, what they've been doing all year."

FROM DENNIS GROSEL: "It really happened quickly," Grosel said of his game-winning base hit. "The whole thing came down to us doing our jobs. You look at the scoreboard right now, a run in each of the last three innings. That's just being scrappy. We bit down and got the win. We said in the fourth and fifth innings that we were not going to lose this game."

FROM MURPHY O'BRIEN: "Honestly, it's not really whether a pitch is working, it's about throwing strikes. When you have a defense like that behind you it makes everything so much easier. Everyone came together and we got the win.

"It makes it even better because it's the playoffs," O'Brien continued in reference to his first Varsity win to go along with the nine saves he has racked up this spring. "Everyone is jacked up. When you get a win like that, it just feels great. I couldn't be happier. But we have a job that's not done yet."    

 

Wildcats Varsity Baseball closes its regular season with a 15-0 victory over Brunswick at Baldwin Wallace University on Saturday afternoon.
5/17/2015

By Eddie Dwyer

Coach Brad Ganor's Cats, the No. 1 seed for the OHSAA Division I Strongsville District, improved to 22-5 and extended their winning streak to 10 games heading into Tuesday' District Semifinal versus the fourth-seeded Bears from North Royalton. The first pitch from Strongsville High School on Tuesday will be 2 PM.

Saint Ignatius and North Royalton met in the annual Cleveland Indians Charities Hardball Classic in Progressive Field on April 24, with the Cats coming away with a 4-1 victory. Last season, the Bears, on their way to a Division I state runner-up finish, eliminated Saint Ignatius, 5-2, in the Strongsville District Championship Game.

Wildcats gifted sophomore left-hander Connor Adams worked three innings and came up with the victory over Brunswick on Saturday. Adams threw 42 pitches and struck out seven.

The Cats' offense scored early and often, putting up six runs in the second inning and taking command with a nine-run fourth inning. Senior right-handers Luke Diggs and Jacob Bangert worked the fourth and fifth innings, respectively.   

Among the big swings on Saturday were two doubles by sophomore outfielder Ryan Jacobs, a triple by senior outfielder Sam Fuller and doubles by senior designated hitter Dylan Welch, junior third baseman Kevin Mingus, junior outfielder Mike Rogers and senior catcher Alex Panstares.

Senior first baseman Dennis Grosel drew two walks and had a single, and senior shortstop Jake Kucia laid down a bunt for a base hit. Saint Ignatius finished with 12 hits and played errorless baseball.

The statistics are courtesy of the Cats' outstanding senior Team Manager Kyle Kostura.   


 

 

 

All in the family. The Grosel, Panstares and Mingus families share a special Tuesday evening in Classic Park, as freshman left-hander Tom Grosel makes a memorable Varsity debut in the Wildcats' 12-2 victory over Kingsway Christian School.
5/13/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit May 2015

From Classic Park in Lake County - After a dominant month with the Freshmen Cats and pitching a complete-game shutout on the Junior Varsity level, Tom Grosel was called up to pitch Tuesday evening's Varsity game versus the Eagles of Kingsway Christian.

While Tommy's impressive performance included six complete innings, 0 earned runs, three hits, three strikeouts, 1 walk and 51 strikes in 78 pitches, it was who he shared it with, both on and off the baseball-rich diamond in Classic Park, that made it an evening that dreams are made of.

Supporting Tommy both offensively and defensively was his older brother, standout junior first baseman Dennis Grosel, and catching his Varsity debut was one of the top performers behind the plate that Northeast Ohio has to offer - his first cousin and senior catcher/captain Alex Panstares.

Adding to the memorable family affair was Saint Ignatius' mainstay at the hot corner, junior third baseman Kevin Mingus, who is a first cousin to Panstares. 

"I was a little nervous at first, but with my brother and cousins on the field it really helped me out," said Tom Grosel after Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats improved to 20-5 and stretched their winning streak to eight games. "I was just looking to throw strikes and let my defense help me. My fastball was working well, the curveball was working and I threw a circle change a few times."

And how did his big brother and cousins evaluate the young southpaw's first outing with the "big boys?"

"He did very well," said Dennis Grosel, who is also Saint Ignatius' starting Varsity Football quarterback. "He impressed me along with Coach Ganor and the entire team. He just did a great job. I' couldn't be prouder of him."

The soft-spoken and humble Mingus, who lets his bat and glove do the talking, summed up what helped make what was once a backyard dream of four kids become a reality.

"it was easy to play behind him, he threw strikes, got outs and was impressive," Mingus said. 

Panstares, a three-year mainstay behind the dish, couldn't say enough about his first cousin's maturity and composure.

"He threw one JV game prior to this game, came right up with the big boys and took care of business," Panstares said. "He came out committed, knew he had to throw strikes and that is exactly what he did. It was an awesome experience. I think we can all agree that this was something we dreamed of, and never really thought it would happen.

"People think about playing in the pros and stuff, but we thought about playing in the Blue and Gold (of Saint Ignatius) together, all of us," Panstares continued.

Despite losing to the Cats, 12-2, in a game that was called in the bottom of the sixth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule, Kingsway Christian School, which is located in Orrville, Ohio in Wayne County, seemed to relish the experience of playing in Classic Park. The Eagles now stand 16-8.

Saint Ignatius, which tomorrow (Wednesday) evening will begin the most important stretch of its season when it returns to Classic Park to face the Rhodes Rams in a 5 PM Division I Sectional Final, scored its 12 runs on 11 hits. Wildcats No. 1 starter, senior right-hander/captain M.J. Nara (5-1), will take the mound on Wednesday.

Rhodes, the pride of Old Brooklyn, advanced with an 18-0 sectional-semifinal victory over Cleveland John F. Kennedy  on Tuesday.

CATS JUMP ON THE EAGLES EARLY: With two outs and the base empty in the bottom of the first inning, Saint Ignatius scored four runs. The key blows were an RBI single by senior designated hitter Dylan Welch and a blast to deep left field by Panstares that the left fielder couldn't handle.

Dennis Grosel's authoritative shot into center field that he turned into a hustle double scored gifted senior center fielder Sam Fuller, who led off the bottom of the second with a walk and advanced to second base on a pitch in the dirt. The Cats pushed their lead to 7-0 entering the top of third on a sacrifice fly RBI by Welch and a run-scoring base hit to left-center by Panstares.

A walk to multi-skilled senior second baseman Mullen Socha, a single to center field by junior outfielder Dan Volpe, an RBI single to left field by junior infielder Joe Evans, a single from Dennis Grosel and a bases-loaded single by Mingus made it a 9-0 game in the bottom of the third. Evans also turned in a couple of nice plays in the middle infield.

Dennis Grosel's one-out RBI double, a base hit by junior infielder George Asadorian and an error showed the way to two more runs in the Cats' half of the fifth inning, which was a solid answer to the two runs Kingsway Christian scored in the top of the fifth. The Eagles' key hits in their two-run fifth were provided by catcher Zach Chupp and shortstop Jesse Barrios.  

Saint Ignatius then called it a night in the bottom of the sixth on an error and an RBI double to left-center field off the bat of senior infielder James Zajaczkowski, who has swung the aluminum with clutch results all spring.

FROM COACH GANOR: "They have a couple of kids that can swing it," said Coach Ganor of Kingsway Christian. "They were enjoying the experience and I appreciate them wanting to take the ride up (from Wayne County) to play us. I thought Tommy did a great job. They aren't many freshmen who play varsity baseball. He did exactly what I thought he was capable of. It was fun to get everybody a chance to see some pitches."

ALMOST IN THEIR OWN BACKYARD: The Grosels reside in Willoughby, just a few minutes away from Classic Park. 

And speaking of the Grosels, Dennis isn't the only successful football player in the family. Tommy Grosel was a mainstay at linebacker this past fall for Coach Rodney Gallaway's undefeated Freshmen Team.               

 

 

Monday's Saint Ignatius versus Canton Central Catholic Varsity Baseball Game falls to Mother Nature with the Crusaders leading, 4-1, in the top of the fourth inning.
5/11/2015

By Eddie Dwyer

Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, Ohio  - Lightning and heavy rain forced the umpires to stop the game with a Canton Central Catholic runner on first base and one out in the top of the fourth inning.

Saint Ignatius Head Coach Brad Ganor and his staff said the game will not be resumed or made up, and that under the rules the Cats' record remains 19-5 and Canton Central Catholic still stands at 18-6.

In the first game of the two-game series with the Crusaders, which was played on Friday night in Canton, the Wildcats prevailed, 6-3.

While Monday's sun was still shining on the campus of Baldwin Wallace University, Canton Central Catholic took a 2-0 lead on a one-out, two-run double by senior left fielder Patrick Murphy in the top of the first inning.

The Wildcats cut the deficit to 2-1 behind an authoritative RBI single to left-center field by junior third baseman Kevin Mingus in the bottom of the first.

Canton Central Catholic built its 4-1 lead with single runs in the second and third innings.

A walk and back-to-back base hits by senior catcher Nic Millin and junior center fielder JC Colangelo accounted for the Crusaders' third run, and a single and a stolen base by Murphy, a single by junior picher Dan Platek and a one-out RBI single by junior third baseman Clay Davies made it a 4-1 game that Mother Nature decided to settle.

There were a total of 10 hits before the rain came pouring down, six by Canton Central Catholic.

Up next for the Varsity Baseball Cats is Tuesday's game at Classic Park versus Kingsway Christian School. The first pitch is slated for 5 PM and on the mound for Saint Ignatius will be Freshman Tom Grosel, the brother of Wildcats' standout junior first baseman/catcher and starting Varsity Football quarterback Dennis Grosel. Tom Grosel recently pitched a complete game shutout against St. Vincent-St. Mary after being called up to the Junior Varsity.

The Eagles of Kingsway Christian reside in Orrville, Ohio, are a member of the Ohio Christian Athletic Conference and proudly wear the colors of Navy and Green.  

 

Connor Adams and Murphy O'Brien get the job done on the mound as Saint Ignatius Baseball defeats the highly regarded program from Canton Central Catholic, 6-3, at CCC. The victory is the 240th in Brad Ganor's career as the Wildcats' Head Varsity Coach.
5/8/2015

BY EDDIE DWYER

The Varsity Cats will take a record of 18-5 and a six-game winning streak into Saturday's 3 PM matchup with the Ramblers from Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep at Baldwin Wallace University. For a look at the 16-1 Ramblers, see the corner's post from Thursday on the weekend in Wildcats' sports.

With Friday evening's victory over Canton Central Catholic, Saint Ignatius' savvy sophomore left-hander Connor Adams improves to 4-0 and junior right-hander Murphy O'Brien, the ace of Coach's Ganor's bullpen, picks up his ninth save.

****The Junior Varsity Wildcats, on the strength of a 3-1 victory at Canton Central Catholic on Friday, won their 10th consecutive game and improved to 20-3 overall.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE IMPRESSIVE VICTORY BY THE VARSITY CATS OVER THE NOW 18-5-1 CANTON CENTRAL CATHOLIC CRUSADERS. THE TIE FOR CCC WAS A SUSPENDED GAME THAT WAS CALLED DUE TO DARKNESS.

The Bats: Senior second baseman Mullen Socha delivers an RBI triple and junior first baseman Dennis Grosel provides a run-coring double as the Cats take a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

In the third inning, junior third baseman Kevin Mingus doubles home Grosel, who drew a walk, and senior Dylan Welch made it 4-0 game with an RBI single. 

Canton Central Catholic scored a run in the bottom of third and cut the deficit to 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth on a fielder's choice with the bases loaded and a un-scoring single up the middle.

The night belonged to the Blue and Gold, however, as in the top of the seventh Grosel scored on an error and senior catcher/captain Alex Panstares followed with a sacrifice fly.

A Case for the Defense: Senior center fielder Sam Fuller and senior shortstop Jake Kucia were flashing the leather in Stark County on Friday evening, as Kucia came up with a web gem that saw him make a diving catch with two on and two outs in the bottom of the sixth. 

"We played great defense tonight," said Kucia, who credited his teammate Fuller for what was another highlight-reel evening for Sam while roaming the outfield.

"I just got a great read on the ball," Kucia continued in reference to his diving stop in the bottom of the sixth. "I knew we needed someone to make a play and I wanted to be the one to make that big play consistently. Connor (Adams) did a great job keeping us in the game, being tough and getting out of situations. And Nick  Freund (junior right-hander) did well getting two key outs, Brendan Adler (senior left-hander) shut it down and let the defense make a play, and finally Murphy (O'Brien) was great again per usual. He is a gamer and comes up clutch when we need it." 

****NOTE: THE CORNER WISHES TO THANK SAINT IGNATIUS' OUTSTANDING SENIOR STUDENT MANAGER KYLE KOSTURA FOR PROVIDING THE VITAL INFORMATION FOR THIS REPORT. I HAVE SAID IT BEFORE AND WILL SAY IT AGAIN, KYLE  IS IRREPLACEABLE. 

 

 

 

M.J. Nara fires five innings of no-hit baseball, Murphy O'Brien picks up his eighth save and the Cats' bats erupt for eight runs in the top of the seventh during Wednesday evening's 9-0 victory over St. Vincent-St. Mary
5/7/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit May 2015

Akron, Ohio - In a game that was played on a picture-perfect spring evening at Old Forge Field, Saint Ignatius senior right-hander/captain M.J. Nara and St. Vincent-St. Mary's promising sophomore southpaw Brandon Bischof were locked in a pitchers' duel through six innings.

The Wildcats, who improved to 17-5 and won their fifth consecutive game, rode a one-out, RBI single into short right-center field by senior center fielder Sam Fuller to a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning.

It stayed that way until the top of the seventh, when the Cats took command by sending 13 batters to the plate and scoring eight runs.

After Saint Ignatius stretched its lead to 3-0 on a two-run triple by Fuller, St. Vincent-St. Mary's outstanding young head coach Anthony Boarman went to his bullpen and replaced Bischof with senior reliever Brian Horning. Bischof experienced his first loss of the season in four decisions.

Things didn't get any better for the Fighting Irish (12-12), as Saint Ignatius senior pinch hitter/infielder James Zajaczkowski lined the first pitch he saw from Horning into right field for a run-scoring single.

The Cats' seventh-inning hit parade also featured a one-out, bases-loaded RBI single by standout senior catcher/captain Alex Panstares, a run-scoring infield hit by gritty senior shortstop Jake Kucia, a bases-loaded walk by sophomore left fielder Ryan Jacobs, who led off the inning with a base hit, and a two-run single to right-center field by junior first baseman/pinch hitter George Asadorian.

Nara, who went five complete innings without yielding a hit, improved his record to 5-1. M.J., who also serves as one of Head Coach Brad Ganor's captains, struck out six, walked four and threw 83 pitches, 53 of which were strikes.

Helping keep M.J.'s no-no effort intact was gifted senior second baseman Mullen Socha, who made a leaping catch of a line drive to end the bottom of the fifth.  

Junior right-hander Murphy O'Brien, who entered the game with two outs in the bottom of the sixth and Saint Ignatius clinging to a 1-0 lead, picked up his eighth save on the season. Murphy pitched 1 and 1/3 innings, yielded one hit, struck out three and threw 15 strikes in the 21 pitches he delivered.

The line scores on the game read 9-11-3 for the Wildcats and 0-2-1 for the Fighting Irish.

From Coach Ganor: "An eight-run seventh, we'll take that every time. But when you don't give up any runs, one's enough. I say it every year, but Anthony (Coach Boarman) does a terrific job with his program. The score is not indicative of how close of a game that was. It was a hard-fought battle until the end."

Coach Ganor said he will send his talented sophomore left-hander Connor Adams (3-0) to the mound on Friday evening, when the Cats board the bus again and travel to tradition-rich Canton Central Catholic to face the Crusaders in a 5 PM first pitch.

From M. J. Nara: "My curveball," said M.J. of the pitch that was really clicking for him on the Old Forge mound. "This team reminds me of our 2013 team (a Division I state runner-up to Archbishop Moeller). We had our ups and downs at the beginning (during 2013), but then right before the playoffs we went on a roll. Games were flying by."

Saint Ignatius is the No. 1 seed for the Strongsville Division I sectional/district and will begin OHSAA postseason play on May 13 in a sectional final versus the winner of the sectional semifinal between Rhodes and John F. Kennedy. The May13th sectional final is slated for 5 PM in Classic Park.  

           

     

 

Wildcats Varsity Baseball Seeded No. 1 for the Division I Strongsville Sectional/District
5/3/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit May 2015

Fairview Park - Coach Brad Ganor's Cats, coming off an impressive 4-1 victory over Walsh Jesuit in Saturday night's championship game of The Pipe Yard Classic, drew a bye in the first round and will take their No. 1 seed into a May 13th Sectional Final at Classic Park. Saint Ignatius will face the winner of the Sectional Semifinal between Rhodes and John F. Kennedy.

Host Strongsville garnered the second seed, Berea-Midpark was seeded third and defending Strongsville District Champion North Royalton is the fourth seed.

HERE ARE SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE VICTORY OVER WALSH JESUIT, WHICH ENTERED SATURDAY NIGHT'S GAME VERSUS SAINT IGNATIUS AS THE THIRD-RANKED TEAM IN THE OHIO HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL COACHES ASSOCIATION'S DIVISION I STATE POLL.

Sophomore left-hander Connor Adams started and went five innings. Wildcats No. 1 starter, senior right-hander/captain M.J. Nara, worked the sixth and seventh innings and picked up the victory. M.J., a Walsh University recruit, also had a key RBI as the Cats tied the score in the bottom of the fifth and scored three runs in what was the decisive sixth.

Two of Saint Ignatius' gifted young players, sophomore left fielder Ryan Jacobs and sophomore catcher Jeff Chonko, turned in solid performances. The sweet-swinging Jacobs had two hits and Chonko, in what was his first Varsity game after being called up from the Junior Varsity, did an excellent job behind the plate, both defensively and working with the pitchers.

Up next for the Cats is Tuesday's game versus Eastlake North in Classic Park. The first pitch is scheduled for 5 PM.  Saint Ignatius will enter Tuesday's matchup with the Rangers carrying a record of 16-5 and a four-game winning streak.  

 

Wildcats Varsity Baseball rides the strong right arm of Luke Diggs and two-hit nights from Sam Fuller, Ryan Jacobs, Dylan Welch, Kevin Mingus and Dylan Smolen to a 9-1 victory over Mentor in the second game of The Pipe Yard Classic on Friday night.
5/3/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit May 2015

Lorain County - Senior right-hander Luke Diggs went the distance in improving his record to 3-2 and Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats now stand 15-5 after pounding out 14 hits against the Mentor Cardinals, who slipped to 9-7.

Saint Ignatius will send gifted sophomore left-hander Connor Adams (3-0) to the mound on Saturday evening when the Cats face the highly touted Warriors from Walsh Jesuit in The Pipe Yard Classic final. The first pitch is scheduled for 6 PM.

Walsh Jesuit, which is ranked third in the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association's Division I state poll, advanced to the all Jesuit School matchup with Saint Ignatius by squeezing by Amherst Steele, 4-3, in Friday's first game at The Pipe Yard.

As for Diggs, it was evident he was ready to go during his pregame bullpen and that strength came to fruition in the bottom of the first inning when Luke sent Mentor down in order, including two strikeouts.

Diggs was in command, as his complete-game performance included four strikeouts, one walk, one run and five hits. Luke threw 77 pitches, 49 of which were strikes.

Saint Ignatius' bats were ringing from the get-go.

The Cats took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, tacked on another run in the second inning and broke things open with a four-run top of the fourth. Included among Saint Ignatius' 14 hits, which came off three Cardinals pitchers, were two-hit nights by senior center fielder Sam Fuller, a St. Bonaventure recruit, sophomore left fielder Ryan Jacobs, senior designated hitter Dylan Welch, junior third baseman Kevin Mingus and senior right fielder Dylan Smolen.

SETTING THE TABLE: Saint Ignatius did just that in the top of the first inning as Sam Fuller, one of the state's complete players, led off with a line drive single to left field. Fuller then stole second base and came around to score when junior first baseman Dennis Grosel hit a sharp grounder that the shortstop couldn't deal with. Grosel then advanced to second on the throw home.

After the Cats' Kevin Mingus hit an authoritative single to right-center field, Coach Ganor's team had runners on first and third with one out. Mentor would grab some momentum by picking off the runner at third, but, in what was a great at-bat by Saint Ignatius' Dylan Welch, Mr. Momentum immediately returned to the Wildcats' dugout.

Welch, a relentless worker in the batting cage, smoked a 3-2 pitch to left field for a single and Mingus, who had advanced to second during the rundown at third base, came home to score the game's second run.

ADDING ON AND BUSTING IT OPEN: With one out and the bases empty in the top of the second, Ryan Jacobs, one of Saint Ignatius' standout young hitters, doubled to the gap in right-center. Veteran Dylan Smolen then beat out a grounder to deep shortstop for a hit, putting Wildcat base runners on first and third.

After Smolen stole second base, Fuller made his presence felt again by driving the ball to deep center field for a sacrifice fly RBI and a 3-0 Saint Ignatius lead.

Following a scoreless third inning, the Cats put themselves in the driver's seat with a four-run fourth that featured a single by Jacobs, a bunt for a base hit by Smolen, another run-scoring single by Fuller, an opposite-field RBI single to left field by Grosel and a decisive two-out, two run single by Welch.

An opposite way RBI single to right field by senior second baseman Mullen Socha made it an 8-0 game in the top of the fifth and, after a line-drive single to center field by senior shortstop Jake Kucia was played into a double, the Wildcats' faithful were purring to the tune of a 9-0 lead entering the bottom of the sixth.

Mentor's only run, which came in the bottom of the sixth, was fueled by base hits from second baseman Tyler Thompson and center fielder Nathan Birtley.

FROM COACH GANOR: "Luke (Diggs) was outstanding. He pitched really well on Sunday (at St. Xavier), even though he took a tough loss. I was with him out in the bullpen before the game and I thought he was going to have a great game. He just looked sharp, he looked focused and I'm just proud of the way he came out, threw strikes and allowed us to extend the lead by putting up zeroes.

"Offensively, I would say the difference in tonight's game was Dylan Welch coming up with that big hit (with two outs and runners on second and third in the top of the fourth)," Coach Ganor continued. "We've spent a lot of time discussing how to come up with that hit, and Dylan went out and executed it."

FROM LUKE DIGGS: "The fastball was working tonight and it just feels good pitching in front of guys who have your back. The confidence level is great when you have people playing like that. We mixed in a few curveballs, but when you have the fastball working to the point where you're getting ground balls and pop ups, there's no reason to go away from it. I couldn't wait to get back on the mound tonight."

 

 

The pitching of Nick Freund, a towering two-run home run by first baseman Dennis Grosel, solid play in the field and a three-run third inning lead the Varsity Baseball Cats to a 6-1 victory over Olmsted Falls on Tuesday evening.
4/28/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April/May 2015

Fairview Park, Ohio - Coach Brad Ganor's Cats now stand 14-5 on the season after they were solid in all facets of the game in a sun-drenched, yes sun-drenched Bohlken Park.

Right-hander Nick Freund, who upped his record to 4-1, was tough-minded and talented on Tuesday evening as the amiable junior went six innings, yielded three hits and one run, struck out five, walked a batter and had a hit batsman. Nick threw 81 pitches, 53 of which were strikes.

Savvy senior southpaw Brendan Adler pitched a scoreless seventh. I say savvy, because Brendan, after picking up the victory in Friday night's 4-1 triumph over North Royalton at Progressive Field, took the baseball, wrote on it and then flipped it up into the stands to a young lady. On the baseball it read, "Will you go with me to my prom?" The answer was yes, my friends.

Freund, whose gutsy performance included plenty of offensive and defensive support, was staked to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, when junior first baseman Dennis Grosel turned on an inside fastball and sent Mr. Rawlings soaring over the right-field fence. The ball landed on the hill behind the scoreboard. Dennis' blast followed a one-out base hit and stolen base by red-hot senior second baseman Mullen Socha.

Saint Ignatius, which is scheduled to face Mentor on Friday evening at 6 bells in The Pipe Yard (Lorain County), started to pull away from Olmsted Falls courtesy of a three-run bottom of the third. Coach Dan Largent's Bulldogs from  the Southwest Conference are now a deceiving 9-9, with their mark against Ohio teams at 8-6. The Falls is 5-3 in SWC play.

The Cats' bottom of the third was fueled by a leadoff base hit from senior outfielder Dylan Smolen, a stolen base by Smolen and an RBI double to left field by gifted senior center fielder Sam Fuller, a St. Bonaventure recruit. Saint Ignatius combined a fielder's choice, a stolen base by senior Kurt Mantes and an error into its fourth run, and Grosel went the opposite way to left field for a sacrifice fly that brought home the third run of the inning and a 5-0 lead.

A bunt for a base hit by Fuller and another base hit by Socha opened the door for the Cats' sixth and final run in the bottom of the fifth.

Olmsted Falls avoided a shutout by turning back-to-back base hits by junior right fielder Aidan Kelley and senior left fielder Ryan Hanna, a one-out walk and a wild pitch into a run in the top of the sixth. Freund went out in style, however, as with runners on second and third with one out, Nick reached back and retired the Bulldogs with two strikeouts. Three of Freund's five Ks came in the top of the sixth.

The line scores showed Saint Ignatius at 6-7-1 and Olmsted Falls at 1-4-1.

A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE: The Wildcats flashed their leather on Tuesday evening, as Dennis Grosel came up with two scoops at first base that would have brought a smile to the face of the late Vic Power, Dylan Smolen made a nice play for an out on a fly ball that the early evening wind in Bohlken Park was trying to circle away from him and senior shortstop Jake Kucia turned in a Derek Jeter-like catch on a sinking liner. With two outs and runners on first and second in the top of the seventh, Jake fielded a ground ball and alertly went the short way for a force at third that ended the game.

FROM HEAD COACH BRAD GANOR: "Nick (Freund) did a great job. His pitch count was perfect and he threw strikes. He had a couple of situations with some guys on and he battled. When you throw zeros up and then score runs on top of it, it kind of takes away their (the opponent) will."

FROM VETERAN ASSISTANT COACH MARK TERLEP: "In talking with Luke Diggs (senior right-handed pitcher) the other day, he gave me the comment that he really loves pitching in front of these guys. Our defense has been really playing solid behind our pitchers. We like our pitchers to pitch to contact and guys are making plays behind them. I talked today about confidence as the word of the day, and when pitchers can go out with confidence, knowing that the guys behind them will make the plays, they get the job done."

FROM NICK FREUND: "The fastball outside was really working well today," said Nick. "Then I would come with the curveball. I threw a few changeups, but mostly it was the fastball. 

"Up the middle and third base, great plays, Dennis Grosel with two great scoops at first and in the outfield Sam Fuller was roaming in center field as always, and Ryan Jacobs in left and Dylan Smolen in right made plays," continued Nick, in reference to the defense behind him. "I've been throwing to contact all season and letting my defense make the plays."

FROM DENNIS GROSEL, WHO IS ALSO THE WILDCATS' STARTING VARSITY FOOTBALL QUARTERBACK: "It felt good," said Dennis of his two-run blast that set the table for a successful evening. "With a guy on second and one out, I just thought about barreling it up, getting it through and making something happen. I was trying to get him (Mullen Socha) over and in. It was a fastball inside and I turned on it pretty good.

"The pitching is going well and we have their backs," Dennis continued while talking about the Cats' defense. "They throw strikes and we'll make the plays. It's been working out well for us so far."                 

                  

 

A night to cherish. Saint Ignatius' Varsity Baseball Team enjoys a 4-1 victory over North Royalton in Progressive Field
4/27/2015
   
     
 

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2015

The Wildcats seemed to savor every moment of their opportunity to perform in one of Major League Baseball's finest facilities, as they improved to 12-4 on the season behind what was the essence of a team victory over the North Royalton Bears.

Cleveland, Ohio - You could see the enjoyment in their eyes and carve their contagious spirit with a knife.

No matter how this promising spring comes to an end, the 2015 Saint Ignatius Wildcats Varsity Baseball Program will be remembered as a ball club that truly appreciated the game and considered it an honor to be "a teammate."

Friday night, at the annual Cleveland Indians Charities Hardball Classic, Head Coach Brad Ganor and his staff used seven different pitchers and cleared  their bench as every young man wearing those sharp gold jerseys had his moment under the bright lights of Carnegie and Ontario.

"I say we play every game here," said Ganor, shortly after his Cats defeated the 2014 Division I State Runner-Up Bears. "I said before the game that they needed to enjoy the experience, and I think they did. And the outcome was in our favor, which is great, but that's icing on the cake. The outcome was irrelevant in my mind. It was a once in lifetime experience for a lot of them."

Senior right-hander Luke Diggs opened what was a "Magnificent Seven" performance by the Saint Ignatius pitching staff by calmly snagging a pop up near the mound with one out and a runner on second in the top of the first inning. Bears shortstop Alex Sir Lewis had singled to center field with one out and advanced to second on a pitch in the dirt.

After a strong second inning by senior left-hander Brendan Adler that featured two strikeouts, Saint Ignatius got its offense on track with a three-run bottom of the second that featured a lead-off single by Dylan Welch and an RBI hustle double to right field by James Zajaczkowski.

Those three runs gave Adler, a young man who had ACL surgery less than a year ago, his first victory on the varsity level.

North Royalton, which defeated the Wildcats, 5-2, in last year' District Championship Game at Strongsville, got on the scoreboard with two outs and the bases empty in the top of the third. The Bears combined back-to-back singles by center fielder Garrett Strom and left fielder Reese Albright with an error in scoring their only run.

Saint Ignatius, which is scheduled to face Cincinnati St. Xavier in a doubleheader on Sunday at noon on the Bombers' field, closed out the scoring in the bottom of the fourth on a sharp single through the left side by Zajaczkowski, a single to left field by senior catcher/captain Alex Pantares, a fielder' choice and  a two-out run-scoring single by senior pitcher/outfielder Dylan Smolen.

Completing the Cats' seven for seven innings pitching rotation were Jacob Bangert in the third inning, Richard McGraw in the fourth, Nick Freund in the fifth, Smolen in the sixth and the ace of Coach Ganor's bullpen, junior right-hander Murphy O'Brien, in the top of the seventh. O'Brien struck out two of the four batters he faced and Smolen's scoreless sixth featured a slick and smooth 5-4-3 double play that was started by Joe Evans at third base.

In what was one of the more impressive swings that didn't go for a hit on Friday night came off the bat of Wildcats junior first baseman/designated hitter George Asadorian, who drove a pitch to the 370-foot mark in left field.

The line scores on the game were 1-6-1 for North Royalton and 4-9-1 for Saint Ignatius.

"I'm proud of them, they had fun," Coach Ganor said. "I mean getting to hit under the dugout before the game, they truly felt like big leaguers for a night."       

Connor Adams fires six innings of no-hit baseball, junior Murphy O'Brien combines on the no-no by retirng all three of the batters he faced in the seventh and Jake Kucia, George Asadorian and Mullen Socha help fuel the offense in a 7-0 victory over South.
4/22/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2015

Captains Park in Lake County - Connor Adams, a gifted sophomore left-hander, improved to 2-0 on the season by relying mostly on his fastball Tuesday evening. He yielded two walks, struck out five and hit a batter, and 46 of his 79 pitches were strikes. Remember the name my friends.

Murphy O'Brien, a savvy junior right-hander, continued his dominance out of Head Coach Brad Ganor's bullpen as he took over for Adams in the top of the seventh with runners on first and second and no outs. Adams was on a pitch count.

O'Brien calmly settled the issue and kept the no-hitter intact off a ground ball to the left side that gritty senior shortstop Jake Kucia fielded and alertly threw to third base to force the lead runner, and two strikeouts.    

Kucia contributed big time with his bat and his glove, as Saint Ignatius improved to 11-4 and handed the Willoughby South Rebels just their third loss in 15 games. The South Rebels entered the game as the ninth-ranked Division I team in the state by the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association. The OHSBCA poll ranked the Wildcats 17th in Division I this week. 

Along with his force-out toss to third in the seventh inning, Kucia helped keep the no-hitter alive by making a diving catch of a sinking liner in the top of the fifth and, in a quick heads-up reaction, firing the ball to junior Dennis Grosel at first base to double off the runner, who had reached on an error.

Multitalented junior designated hitter/ first baseman George Asadorian and Kucia staked Saint Ignatius to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning with ringing RBI singles.

Coach Ganor's Cats took command with a five-run sixth inning that featured the third consecutive walk drawn by the keen batting eye of junior third baseman Kevin Mingus, Mingus' second stolen base on the evening, a picture-perfect bunt down the third-base line by sophomore outfielder Ryan Jacobs that went for a base hit, Asadorian reaching on a hit by pitch, an authoritative RBI single through the left side by steady senior second baseman Mullen Socha, another run-scoring base hit by Kucia, and a stolen base by Kucia that resulted in Jake coming around to score from second off a line-drive single to right-center field by senior center fielder Sam Fuller.

Saint Ignatius' take-charge sixth also saw the Cats score off a passed ball and a wild pitch.

The Cats' line score read 7-6-3 and it was 0-0-0 for the Rebels.

Up next for the Cats is Friday's 8 PM matchup with 2014 Division I state runner-up North Royalton at Progressive Field. The game is part of the annual Cleveland Indians Charities High School Hardball Classic. Holy Name had to cancel its scheduled game for Thursday versus Saint Ignatius.

FROM COACH GANOR: "I was hoping for 80 pitches and he was just light of that going into the seventh inning," said Coach Ganor of Adams, a young man with a tough competitive nature. "He did a great job. I love his fire and passion in wanting to stay in the game. Even when I came out (to the mound) in the seventh (following two base on balls) he wasn't happy about it. But he's young and has a bright future so we don't want to jeopardize any of that, obviously.

"Going into today, that's what we needed," Coach Ganor continued in reference to his team's seven-run shutout of a top-10, state-ranked team. "We needed to have that game where we're not on the edge of our seats for the final out. I'm proud of the guys. It was a great job today."

FROM CONNOR ADAMS: "It was pretty much my fastball," Connor said of his impressive outing on Tuesday. "It was the only pitch I threw, except for their No. 4 batter (first baseman Dan Danford), I threw curves to him. I just go out and every hitter, I don't really look at the name. I just go at him. As soon as I get behind in the count, I get it over the plate and let my fielders make plays. I have faith in them."

FRESHMAN CATS NOW STAND 10-2: Coach Brian Becker's promising ninth graders rode a nine-run third inning on Tuesday to an 11-3 victory over Willoughby South. The Cats' line score read 11-7-4 and the Rebels' line was 3-5-1.     

 

 

The resiliency of starter Nick Freund, strong efforts in relief by M.J. Nara and Murphy O'Brien, and a game-ending double play turned by Mullen Socha that could go down as one of the most significant plays of the 2015 season.
4/19/2015

SAINT IGNATIUS VARSITY BASEBALL, WRAPPING UP A STRETCH OF GAMES THAT HAD SEEN IT STRUGGLE A BIT OFFENSIVELY, DUG DEEP WHEN IT MATTERED THE MOST AND TURNED AWAY A SOLID STRONGSVILLE TEAM, 4-3, ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON AT BALDWIN WALLACE UNIVERSITY. THE VICTORY CAME IN WHAT WAS JUST THE SECOND HOME GAME OF THE SEASON FOR THE CATS. 

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2015

Berea, Ohio - With the bases loaded with Mustangs and no outs in the top of the seventh inning, Wildcats junior right-hander Murphy O'Brien, the ace of Head Coach Brad Ganor's bullpen, recorded the first out via a strikeout.

Strongsville's faithful cheered as the next batter sent a sharp grounder up the middle against a drawn-in infield that appeared to be targeted for center field.

However, instead of a base hit that would have tied the score and possibly brought home the go-ahead run as well, the baseball gods smiled in the direction of Saint Ignatius senior middle infielder Mullen Socha, who fielded the ball behind second base, stepped on the bag and fired to first to complete a game-ending double play. Web Gem City my friends.

Okay, it was just game 14 and, not being affiliated with a league, the main focus of a Wildcats baseball season is always the Ohio High School Athletic Association state playoffs, which begin next month.

That said, for anyone close to Coach Ganor's program Saturday's heart-pounder was just what a tough-minded and talented group of Wildcats needed.

After starting their season at 7-0, the Cats hit an offensive lull that saw them lose four of their next six games.

Coming off Friday's tough loss to West Side rival St. Edward, Saint Ignatius needed to get the adrenalin flowing again and recapture the resiliency it displayed throughout the first three weeks of the season.

Standing 10-4 heading into Tuesday's game versus Willoughby South at Classic Park, all of the Wildcats' goals are still in front of them as they look to finish the regular season strong and gear up for their time of year, which is always mid May.

NICK FREUND EARNS A BIG-HEARTED VICTORY: After yielding two runs in the top of the first inning, Saint Ignatius junior right-hander Nick Freund, displaying the work ethic that has earned him a spot in Coach Ganor's rotation, shutout the Mustangs over the next three innings. Nick earned the victory after going four-plus innings. He yielded three hits, struck out three and had three walks. Thirty eight of Nick's 60 pitches were strikes.

MR. VERSATILITY: Saint Ignatius junior Dennis Grosel, who can handle first base, third base and go behind the plate when senior captain Alex Panstares needs a breather, put on the catching gear and came up with two impressive plays on Saturday. Dennis accounted for the second out in the top of the fourth by throwing a seed down to second base to retire a would-be base stealer and in the top of the fifth, with runners on first and second and two outs, he ended the threat by picking off the runner at first base. Wildcats senior first baseman James Zajaczkowski did a nice job of blocking the runner off the bag and making the catch.

Maybe the versatility Grosel possesses is a family thing. Panstares, Dennis' first cousin and one of the premier catchers in the state, played left field yesterday and made two key grabs on the run. Grosel, for those not aware, is the Wildcats' starting Varsity Football quarterback.

THE CAPTAIN VOLUNTEERS HIS SERVICES: Coach Ganor shared with the corner that before Saturday's game, M.J. Nara, a senior captain and the Wildcats' No. 1 starter, told his coach that if he needed him he could go at least one inning in relief.

A right-hander bound for Walsh University, M.J. came on in relief of Nick Freund in the top of the fifth and threw a shutout inning that included two strikeouts.

A "NOT AGAIN" FROM THE MUSTANGS' FAITHFUL: Strongsville's loss on Saturday marked the second time this season that the Mustangs had the early lead on the Wildcats. The teams met on April 2nd at Strongsville and the Mustangs led, 4-0, after four innings before the Cats rallied to a 6-4 victory.

THE OFFENSE: Saint Ignatius' promising sophomore outfielder Ryan Jacobs cut the Cats' deficit to 2-1 with an RBI double down the left-field line in the bottom of the second inning. The Wildcats took a 3-2 lead with a two-run bottom of the fourth that featured a game-tying RBI single to right field by senior center fielder Sam Fuller, a St. Bonaventure recruit, and a run-scoring single by Mullen Socha that saw Mullen go the opposite way to right field. Alex Panstares' RBI double to deep left field in the bottom of the fifth made it a 4-2 game. Saint Ignatius' line score was 4-7-2.

After Zach Kahn's run-scoring double cut the Mustangs' deficit to 4-3 in the top of the sixth, Strongsville loaded the bases in the top of the seventh on two singles and an error. Kahn also turned in a solid game in center field. Strongsville's line score was 3-6-2. 

FROM COACH GANOR: "Nick was fantastic battling back," said Coach Ganor of Nick Freund. "When you're not playing well and you feel like the week has been a month, you start asking yourself if you're ever going to win another game. And then you do this and you feel like you can't lose a game. That's the story of high school baseball I guess, the ups and downs of it. But I'm very proud of them and their resiliency today."

MUSTANGS WIN THE MATCHUPS BETWEEN THE FRESHMEN AND SOPHOMORES: The day wasn't a total loss for Strongsville, as the Mustangs' freshmen handed the Wildcats' freshmen just their second loss in 11 games this spring, 10-7. The Mustangs' jayvees came up with a 3-2 victory over Saint Ignatius' junior varsity. It was the JV Cats' first setback in nine games.       

 

 

Saint Ignatius Varsity Baseball yields seven runs in the third inning and is defeated by St. Edward, 9-1, at The Pipe Yard in Lorain County on Friday evening
4/18/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2015

Lorain, Ohio - In the words of Wildcats veteran Assistant Coach Matt Blazer '94, Saint Ignatius was out scrapped by the Eagles in almost every phase of the game on Friday evening, as another chapter of the storied West Side rivalry took place under ideal blue sky and sunshine conditions in what is an atmosphere-rich baseball facility off Meister Road.

Saint Edward, which improved to 8-2 and has now won eight of its last nine games, rode a leadoff single by junior third baseman Jake Budyka, a sacrifice bunt by senior right fielder Shayne Erny, two hit batsmen and a bases-loaded walk into a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning.

The Wildcats (9-4), who have lost four of their last six outings, were able to stay in the game early, as the Eagles left the bases loaded in both the first and second innings.

It was a short-lived stay, however, as Coach Joe Kasl's ball club scored seven times in what was a decisive bottom of the third inning.

St. Edward's seven-run outburst started with a line drive single to right-center field by promising sophomore Kevin Finzer, who was the designated hitter on Friday evening. Veteran senior left fielder Darien Knowles then laid down a bunt along the third-baseline and, after some indecisive fielding by the Cats, the Eagles had runners on first and third with no outs.

Three consecutive walks followed by a sacrifice fly to right-center field by baseball savvy junior shortstop Joe Weisenseel made it a 4-0 game. Keeping the pressure on with an aggressive approach on the base paths and coming up with clutch RBI base hits by senior center fielder Kyle Hegedus and junior first baseman Kevin Ruffing, St. Edward took an 8-0 lead into the fourth inning.

That was more than enough support for Eagles junior right-hander Jaret Edwards, who went 5 2/3 innings, yielded two hits, one run, walked three and struck out four in improving his record to 3-1. Edwards threw 97 pitches, 60 of which were strikes.

Saint Ignatius, which will face the Strongsville Mustangs for the second time this season when the teams meet in a 3 PM first pitch at Baldwin Wallace University tomorrow (Saturday), scored its run in the top of the fourth inning.

Wildcats senior outfielder Kurt Mantes led off the fourth with a double to right field. Senior designated hitter/infielder Dylan Welch reached on an error and a ground out to the right side of the infield off the bat of junior right fielder Mike Rogers enabled the Cats to avoid a shutout.

Saint Edward senior reliever Garrett Zorb closed out the game for Coach Kasl by pitching the final inning and a third. Zorb ended the top of the sixth with a strikeout and, after yielding a one-out single to Saint Ignatius senior second baseman Mullen Socha in the top of the seventh, coaxed a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

The Wildcats' line score read 1-3-1 and the Eagles, who scored their ninth run in the bottom of the fifth off a walk to Weisenseel, a passed ball, a fielder's choice and a sacrifice fly by Hegedus, had seven hits and committed two errors.

"I don't know, I feel like this has been a week from hell offensively," said Saint Ignatius Head Coach Brad Ganor, whose team has stranded several runners over its last six games. "We are out of sorts. If I knew what it was it would be fixed. But I don't know what it is. It's been a week that feels like three months.

"But we have to have a short memory," Coach Ganor continued. "We have another strong opponent tomorrow in Strongsville. We have to come ready to go."

The Wildcats and the Strongsville Mustangs met on April 2 at Strongsville, a game that saw the Cats rally from a 4-0 deficit after four innings and go on to defeat the Mustangs, 6-4.

"I'm kind of praying that this is that lull in the season that every team has," said Coach Ganor. "But these guys are going to snap out of it. They approach the game the right away and they play the game the right way. I couldn't be more proud to be the Saint Ignatius baseball coach and that wouldn't change if we lost every game from here on out. But we'll figure it out. That's the coaching staff's job, to figure it out and make us better, and it's their job (the players) to execute it."       

   

        

 

Cats Freshmen Baseball stands 8-1 after a 3-0 loss to St. Vincent-St. Mary on Thursday.
4/17/2015

The young Cats managed two hits and the Fighting Irish totaled nine hits.

St. Vincent-St. Mary scored a run in the bottom of the first inning and added two runs in the second inning.

 

M.J. Nara, Connor Adams and Murphy O'Brien pitch the Varsity Baseball Wildcats to a 2-0 victory over Boardman at the baseball-rich facility on the campus of Baldwin Wallace University.
4/16/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2015

Berea, Ohio - M. J. Nara improved to 2-1 on the season after the senior right-hander/captain worked the first four innings on Wednesday evening, yielding just one hit and racking up eight strikeouts. A Walsh University recruit, M.J. threw 59 pitches, 47 of which were strikes.

Savvy southpaw Connor Adams pitched the fifth and sixth innings, and also gave up just one hit. Connor, a sophomore, had three strikeouts and recorded 23 strikes in the 31 pitches he fired to junior catcher Dennis Grosel.

Completing the two-hit shutout over the Spartans was the ace of Head Coach Brad Ganor's bullpen, junior right-hander Murphy O'Brien. Murphy threw a 1-2-3 top of the seventh off two groundouts and a strikeout, as the Baseball Cats won for the ninth time in 12 games this season.

Saint Ignatius, which was playing its first home game of the spring, took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and added the second run in the bottom of the third.

Junior third baseman Kevin Mingus, who has been swinging an authoritative bat, led off the bottom of the first with a double to deep right-center field. Gifted senior center field Sam Fuller, a St. Bonaventure recruit, drew a walk and Grosel followed with an infield hit that loaded the bases with no outs.

After the Wildcats scored on a fielder's choice, Boardman right-hander Sam Varga (1-1) did a nice job of damage control in the first inning, as he pitched out of what could have been a big inning for the Cats by coaxing a groundout and a double play.

Saint Ignatius made it a 2-0 game in the third behind a leadoff walk to senior second baseman Mullen Socha, a textbook sacrifice bunt by Mingus and a ringing RBI single to right field by Fuller.

The official line scores on the game were 0-2-0 for Boardman and 2-5-1 for the Wildcats. Boardman's coaching staff said the Spartans are now 6-5.

Up next for Coach Ganor's Cats is Friday evening's annual matchup with West Side rival St. Edward. The first pitch from The Pipe Yard in Lorain County will be 5 PM and senior right-hander Luke Diggs (2-0) will be on the mound for Saint Ignatius.

Coach Joe Kasl's St. Edward Eagles are 6-2 heading into Thursday's game at Eastlake North. The Eagles had their six-game winning streak snapped with a 1-0 loss at Midview in Grafton on Tuesday. Midview's Middies scored in the bottom of the first inning on three walks and a sacrifice fly.

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Saint Ignatius' multi-skilled senior catcher/captain Alex Panstares teams with two of his first cousins on the 2015 Wildcats Varsity Baseball Team - Kevin Mingus and Dennis Grosel.

COACH GANOR ON WHAT WAS ANOTHER BOUNCE-BACK VICTORY BY HIS RESILIENT WILDCATS: "The pitching was very good," said the veteran skipper. "M.J., Connor and Murphy, fantastic. They are our top three and they did everything we expected them to do. Offensively, I know that we are going to be fine. It was the lack of aggressiveness, though, that frustrated me today.

"We faced a great pitcher (Vanderbilt recruit Chris Machamer) yesterday," Coach Ganor continued in reference to Tuesday's 5-0 loss at Massillon. "We were facing more of a typical type of a high school pitcher today and I don't think we had great approaches at the plate. I thought we took better approaches yesterday against a guy with exceptional talent. Today we weren't as aggressive. That will come and we'll talk it out and get better at it. But it was frustrating to watch, especially the three backwards Ks in one inning. We just can not have that."

Boardman's Varga recorded his three backwards Ks in retiring the Cats in order in the bottom of the sixth.                    

 

No excuses offered. Head Coach Brad Ganor and his staff tip their caps to Massillon's Chris Machamer after the gifted right-hander pitched the Tigers to a 5-0 victory over the Varsity Baseball Cats on the Tigers' Carl "Ducky" Schroeder Field Tuesday.
4/15/2015

y Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2015

Massillon, Ohio - With Machamer, a Vanderbilt recruit, limiting the Wildcats two hits and striking out 11, the Tigers improved to 7-3. Just a junior, Machamer threw 101 pitches, 59 of which were strikes. He walked two and hit a batter.

Massillon did all of its damage in the bottom of the first inning, scoring five runs on three hits, two walks and two hit batsmen.

Machamer, who improved to 2-0 on the young season, yielded an infield hit off the bat of senior second baseman Mullen Socha in the top of third inning that saw the Tigers' third baseman and shortstop collide as they were both charging the ball.

Saint Ignatius' only other hit came in the top of seventh inning, an authoritative single to right field by promising junior Kevin Mingus.

The Tigers made two exceptional defensive plays in support of Machamer, an over-the-shoulder diving catch in deep center field by senior John Henry Bronczek off a ball hit by Mingus in the top of the second inning and a sliding one-handed grab of a line drive by junior left fielder Brock Wenger that shot off the bat of Wildcats junior George Asadorian leading off the top of the sixth.

After the first-inning outburst by Massillon, the Baseball Cats, now 8-3, got shutout pitching from a bullpen that consisted of senior lefty Brendan Adler, senior right-hander Jacob Bangert and junior right-hander Murphy O'Brien.

Adler came on in relief of junior right-hander Nick Freund and put out the fire by ending the bottom of the first with two strikeouts. Adler worked through the fourth inning before Bangert and O'Brien each pitched 1-2-3 innings in the bottom of the fifth and sixth, respectively.

HIGHLY TOUTED: Machamer, who is also a very capable infielder and outfielder, has been rated by Prep Baseball Report as the No. 1 prospect in Ohio. Before deciding on 2014 National Champion Vanderbilt, Machamer also was considering Stanford, South Carolina, LSU, Kentucky, Michigan and Virginia. 

Prior to Socha's two-out infield hit in the top of the third inning, Machamer retired the first eight Wildcats he faced, five of them on strikeouts. With Saint Ignatius runners on second and third and two outs, he ended the top of the third with a K and went on to strike out the side in the top of the fourth.

TIGERS ROAR EARLY: Massillon's five-run first inning was highlighted by a line drive single to left field by senior shortstop Andrew David, an RBI single to center field by sophomore designated hitter Bryce Hymes and a two-run single to left-center field by junior second baseman Ronnie Meyer. The line score from Tuesday evening was 0-2-0 for the Wildcats and 5-5-0 for the Tigers.

UP NEXT for the Cats is Wednesday's 5 PM matchup with the Boardman Spartans at Baldwin Wallace University, which will be Saint Ignatius' first home game of the season. The 1-2 punch of senior right-hander/captain M.J. Nara and savvy sophomore southpaw Connor Adams will see time on the mound versus Boardman, although both young men will be on a pitch count as Coach Ganor looks to have his rotation set heading into the annual Ohio Jesuit Cup at Cincinnati St. Xavier on April 25 and 26.

FROM COACH GANOR ON TUESDAY'S GAME AT MASSILLON: "This was a game where you just tip your cap," Coach Ganor said. "He (Machamer) pitched a great game and beat us. The first inning aside, I thought we played great, I really do. We stayed aggressive and got great defense and great pitching, we just got beat by a better pitcher. We'll get better and move forward, that's all you can do.

"I love seeing pitchers like that," Coach Ganor continued in reference to Machamer. "Because we're going to see that in the playoffs and it's just making our guys better. Our guys are good enough to learn and adjust to different types of pitchers, and when you face arms like that they become better hitters because of it. We've lost three of our last four 11 games into the season. It's not like we lost three of our last four in the second week of May. If it was, I would be very concerned going into the playoffs.

"There is so much baseball ahead of us and you don't see anybody that's negative about anything right now, which is great," said Coach Ganor. "It's a testament to these kids and their ability to persevere. It's great when you're winning, but the challenge of a great team is what you're going to do when you are not winning. I'll take my chances with a team that has been tested by great competition and that's what we saw today, a very good team with a great pitcher."  

  

 

Saint Ignatius Varsity Baseball experiences a 3-2, eight-inning loss at Lakewood on Saturday afternoon. Coach Mike Ribar's Rangers improve to 6-0 and Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats lose for just the second time in 10 games.
4/12/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2015

Lakewood, Ohio -  Saint Ignatius, which was coming off an impressive victory in the Super Prep Series Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky (see the corner's post from Friday), took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a two-out RBI single up the middle by talented and gritty junior right fielder Mike Rogers. It was a fitting moment for Mike, as the Lakewood resident came up with his first varsity hit and first varsity run batted in. Mike attended Lakewood Catholic Academy elementary school before enrolling at Saint Ignatius.  

Lakewood, a club that like the Wildcats seems to have a solid chemistry, took advantage of three Saint Ignatius errors and base hit by catcher Joe Young in grabbing a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second inning.

It stayed that way until the top of the sixth, when the Cats, with one out and the bases empty, got an outstanding at-bat from senior first baseman/pinch hitter James Zajaczkowski. James, displaying a keen eye at the plate, fouled off numerous pitches before drawing a walk.

With two outs, gifted senior center fielder Sam Fuller sent a sharp ground ball through the right side of the Rangers' infield and the score was knotted at 2.

After Fuller stole second base and advanced to third on a passed ball, Lakewood's talented and versatile first baseman/relief pitcher Max Lavisky saw to it that Fuller would stay right there, as Max recorded a strikeout.

Following a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh inning by Wildcats senior left-hander Dylan Smolen, Lavisky sent Saint Ignatius down in order in the top of the eighth.

The 2015 Rangers, who, in the words of Head Coach Mike Ribar, just love the game, came up with a signature victory when they scored the winning run in bottom of the eighth after there were two outs and nobody on base.

Lavisky, a player that impressed this corner, had the purple and gold faithful cheering loud and clear in First Federal Lakewood Stadium after he drove a pitch to deep right-centerfield for a double. In his previous at-bat, which resulted in a single to right field, Lavisky drew the praise of Saint Ignatius' veteran assistant coach John Whelan for Max's ability to keep his hands back. 

After a Saint Ignatius error, Lakewood third baseman/relief pitcher Ben Bulchik drew a walk and the bases were now loaded in the bottom of the eighth.

Lavisky, standing on third base and listening to every word from Coach Ribar, scored the winning run off a wild pitch and the Rangers and their fans enjoyed the moment under the sunny blue sky and brisk, but comfortable temperatures that hovered over one of Ohio's tradition-rich athletic settings.

ROGERS FOR THE DEFENSE: Although it was not a good day defensively for Saint Ignatius, Mike Rogers came up with a few leather winners that added to his special hometown performance (see the lead paragraph to this story).

In the bottom of the fourth, Mike charged a ball in right field that had single written all over it and threw out the Ranger at first base.

With the score tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth and Lakewood runners on first and second with just one out, Mike hauled in a fly ball in right field and fired to junior Dennis Grosel at first base to double off the runner.

Note: A tip of the cap also has to go out to Lakewood center fielder Andrew Lesko, who made an exceptional diving catch in the top of the second inning that prevented a couple of runs from scoring.

FROM WIDCATS HEAD COACH BRAD GANOR: "That's a mentality that we know as coaches, but they have to learn," Coach Ganor said of opponents always giving their best shot against the Wildcats and his young players realizing that they have to bring the same mentality. "They're new to this, a lot of them, and they have to learn how to feel the rise every single game.

"It was a baseball game in which we made a couple of mistakes and they made us pay for them," Coach Ganor continued. "We didn't make a couple of plays and we lost. It was one of those days. Our season has been great so far. We've shown a lot of fight, and we showed a lot of fight today. They made a couple more plays than we did and they won the game, 3-2. They're (Lakewood) a good, solid baseball team. They had us on the ropes and they took advantage of it."

UP NEXT FOR THE VARSITY CATS: A trip to Massillon on Tuesday to face the Baseball Tigers. The first pitch is scheduled for 5 PM.

JV CATS IMPROVE TO 5-0: Leading the offensive barrage in a 16-7 victory over Lakewood's Jayvees were Jack Siefert (3-for-5 with two doubles, three runs scored and two RBI); Griffin Hunt (2-for-3, 2 RBI); Jeff Chonko (3-for-3, a double and 4 RBI) and Danny Adler with a double and a run batted in.        

                 

 

Behind the clutch hitting of Dylan Welch and Sam Fuller and a defensive gem in right field by Mike Rogers, the Varsity Baseball Wildcats defeat Illinois' defending Class 3A state champion Lemont High School, 2-1, on Friday afternoon.
4/12/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2015

Saint Ignatius, which improved to 8-1 heading into Saturday's 2 PM first pitch versus the Lakewood Rangers at First Federal Lakewood Stadium, also benefitted from the strong pitching of sophomore southpaw Connor Adams, who started and went five innings, and shutdown efforts out of the bullpen by juniors Nick Freund and Murphy O'Brien.

Friday's victory over Lemont was the second of the Cats' two games at the Super Prep Series Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky. Saint Ignatius was defeated by Lockport (Illinois), 7-3, on Friday morning at Ballard High School.

Here is a corner's view on the impressive bounce-back victory over Lemont, which took place at Sky View Park and resulted in the 230th career victory for Wildcats Head Coach Brad Ganor. Brad took over the Saint Ignatius baseball program in 2005.

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - With his team trailing, 1-0, with two outs and the bases empty the bottom of the fourth inning, Wildcats savvy senior first baseman James Zajaczkowski drew a walk. Gifted senior second baseman Mullen Socha followed with a line-drive base hit to right field and senior designated hitter Dylan Welch drove a 1-2 pitch into right-center field that scored junior infielder Joe Evans with the tying run. Evans was running for Zajaczkowski.

Saint Ignatius, which turned in an outstanding defensive performance, flashed its leather in the top of the sixth inning while keeping it a 1-1 game.

Zajaczkowski made a Vic Power-like scoop at first base for the first out of the sixth inning and junior right fielder Mike Rogers charged the ball off a single by Lemont's Austin Tittle and fired a perfect throw to junior third baseman Dennis Grosel, who applied the tag on an Indians base runner who was attempting to advance from first to third on Tittle's hit.

Rogers was seeing his first action after being hit in the eye off an errant pick-off attempt at second base by Dublin Jerome in the season opener at Jerome. Mike was wearing a protective mask on Friday.

After Rogers' defensive gem helped junior Nick Freund to a scoreless sixth inning of relief, Socha, facing Indians reliever Ryan Sublette in the bottom of the sixth, beat out a grounder to the right side that seemed to handcuff Lemont's first and second basemen.

Welch then advanced Socha to second base with a picture-perfect sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Socha advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a base hit to right field off the bat of multi-skilled senior center fielder Sam Fuller that the Indians' right fielder couldn't come up with despite a diving attempt.

A St. Bonaventure baseball recruit, Fuller's game-winning hit came off a 3-2 pitch.

Murphy O'Brien, who has been lights out as the Cats' closer, pitched a 1-2-3 top of the seventh and the sting of Friday morning's loss was gone.

BY THE NUMBERS

The Cats scored their two runs off Lemont on five hits and the Indians finished with six hits. Both teams played errorless baseball.

Connor Adams' impressive five innings saw him yielded one run, strike out three and walk one. He made 73 pitches, 47 of which were strikes.

During Saint Ignatius' 7-3 loss to Lockport, the Wildcats left the bases loaded four times. The Lockport game was called after five innings because of the tournament's time-restriction rule of one hour and 50 minutes.

GOLDEN GLOVE: Senior shortstop Jake Kucia was working his magic again in both of Friday games. From his sliding back-handed stop and throw in the morning to his two putouts in Murphy O'Brien's 1-2-3 seventh inning against Lemont, Jake was money.

FROM COACH GANOR: "That was a good bounce back win. I don't know if I directly challenged them (after the Lockport loss), but I challenged them to rise to the occasion before the Lemont game. We found a way to get the job done when we had the opportunities.

"I'm proud of that," Coach Ganor said in reference to his 230th career victory at Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School. "If you would have told me 20 years ago that I would have 230 wins as Saint Ignatius' baseball coach, I probably would have told you that you were crazy. I can't think of a better place to have 230 victories, that's for sure.

"The true blessing of 230 wins are the 2015 players and all of the players that came before them," Coach Ganor continued. "That's the mark of a good coach, to have great players, and I have been truly blessed with great players.  

"We'll enjoy this for about 12 hours and be ready to go again tomorrow at Lakewood."              

 

 

Saint Ignatius' opening game in the Super Prep Series Baseball Tournament is canceled because of the heavy rain, winds and lightning that hit the Louisville, Kentucky area on Wednesday night.
4/8/2015

BY EDDIE DWYER

Louisville, Kentucky - The Varsity Baseball Cats were scheduled to face Brother Rice out of Chicago at 8 PM tonight (Wednesday), but the weather took its toll on what is an impressive field at Eastern High School.

If Mother Nature doesn't throw us another curve on Thursday, the 7-0 Wildcats will face Hurricane High School, a state champion out of West Virginia, at 3 PM on the diamond at Ballard High School in Louisville.

 

Jake Kucia, Sam Fuller, Alex Panstares and Dennis Grosel help fuel a 14-hit evening and senior right-hander Luke Diggs strikes out six and does not issue a walk, as the undefeated Baseball Wildcats run-rule host Ashland, 12-0, on Monday.
4/7/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2015

THE 7-0 CATS WILL NOW GEAR UP FOR THE SUPER PREP SERIES TOURNAMENT IN LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGH FRIDAY MORNING. THEIR FIRST GAME IS WEDNESDAY AT 8 PM VERSUS THE CRUSADERS FROM CHICAGO BROTHER RICE AT BALLARD HIGH SCHOOL FIELD. BROTHER RICE STOOD 8-1 THROUGH MONDAY'S PLAY.

SENIOR CAPTAIN AND NO. 1 STARTER, RIGHT-HANDER M.J. NARA, IS EXPECTED TO TAKE THE MOUND ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT.

Ashland, Ohio - It was the Wildcats' offense, not rainy days and Mondays, that had the Ashland Arrows' faithful feeling a bit down.

Saint Ignatius came out swinging and sprayed authoritative hits all over Ashland's Bud Plank Field, making Monday's gray skies and occasional drizzle that much more of a gloomy setting for the home team.

A leadoff single by senior center fielder Sam Fuller, a one-out RBI double by junior first baseman Dennis Grosel to deep right-center field, and a run-scoring single by senior shortstop Jake Kucia off an 0-2 pitch led the way to what was a three-run top of the first inning by Coach Brad Ganor's Cats.

And the hits just kept on coming.

After an RBI by senior designated hitter/first baseman James Zajaczkowski off a fielder's choice made it a 3-0 game, Saint Ignatius rode a two-out bunt for a base hit by Fuller, a stolen base by Fuller and two errors by the Arrows to a 4-0 lead in the top of the second inning.

Following a scoreless third inning, the Cats began to take total command in the top of the fourth.

Ashland (0-3) continued to play a little shaky in the field, as with one out and nobody on in the top of the fourth a two-base throwing error brought the gifted Fuller to the plate. Sam, a St. Bonaventure recruit, ripped a curveball into right field for a run-scoring double and a 5-0 lead.

With two outs and Fuller on second, Ashland elected to intentionally walk Grosel, who was 2-for-2 at that point. It was like pick your poison, however, as multi-skilled senior catcher/captain Alex Panstares delivered an RBI single up the middle. Grosel hustled to third on Panstares' base hit and Panstares alertly advanced to second on the throw to third.

Upped stepped the gritty Kucia who not only swung a hot bat, but also played another outstanding game at the 6 position.

Kucia, the nephew of former Saint Ignatius three-sport standout (football, baseball and basketball) Scott Mutryn '94, sent Mr. Rawlings to Rip City by lacing a two-out, two-run single to left field that pushed the Wildcats' lead to 8-0.

That was more than enough support for Cats senior right-hander Luke Diggs (2-0), who went five complete innings, yielded three hits, struck out six and did not issue any free passes. The game was called after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.

Coach Ganor's club secured the run-rule victory with a four-run top of the fifth that was highlighted by back-to-back scorching singles by senior outfielder/pitcher Dylan Smolen and senor second baseman Mullen Socha, a two-run double by Fuller, a base hit by junior infielder Joe Evans, an RBI sacrifice fly by junior first baseman George Asadorian and a run-scoring single by Panstares. Fuller was 4-for-4 with three RBI.

"There is no one star, that's what I love about our team," said Kucia, who was 3-for-4 with three runs batted in. "We're so closely knit. If a guy doesn't get a job done, everybody's there to pick him up and the next guy will get the job done. It's a team thing, a team sport. It's a new guy every day and I love coming out here every day and seeing who that new guy is going to be.

"I love playing behind Luke (Diggs), he's one of my best friends," Kucia continued. "When he's confident, there is no hitting him. He's a gamer. He's special."

HOW WILDCATS VETERAN ASSISTANT COACH MARK TERLEP SAW MONDAY'S IMPRESSIVE VICTORY

"I like how we came out aggressively, came out swinging the bats," Coach Terlep said, referring to the Cats' three days off (Good Friday through Easter Sunday). "They came out and jumped on them. That was really nice to see. Like Jake said, when Luke (Diggs) has faith in himself he comes out and does what he did today. He's capable of that. He has that in him."    

 

 

No Panic! Down 4-0 after four innings, the Varsity Baseball Wildcats tied the score with a four-run top of the fifth and, behind a two-run sixth that featured the go-ahead RBI base hit by James Zajaczkowski, went on to a 6-4 victory at Strongsville
4/3/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2015

Strongsville, Ohio - Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats, who got another outstanding all-around performance from senior center fielder Sam Fuller and more solid pitching, improved to 6-0. All six of those victories have come on the road, as Saint Ignatius does not play its first home game until April 11th versus Lakewood at Baldwin Wallace University.

The Wildcats will travel to Ashland on Monday and then head to Louisville, Kentucky for the Super Prep Series Tournament, April 8th through the 10th.

Here is a corner's view on what was another big-hearted victory by the gifted and selfless 2015 Wildcats.

After a late afternoon/early evening of baseball that saw him make two diving, run-saving and momentum-shifting catches, and come up with a clutch hit in Saint Ignatius' impressive comeback at Strongsville on Thursday, standout senior center fielder Sam Fuller talked about everything but his own impressive efforts. But then that seems to be his nature.

"All of the young guys are filling out their roles, they know what they need to do and they get it done," said Fuller, a St. Bonaventure baseball recruit. "Joe Evans (junior infielder) lays down a huge bunt and gets the guy into scoring position, Zaj (senior first-year player James Zajaczkowski) gets up there and with two strikes doesn't try to do too much with it, just hits the ball right back up the middle and we score the go-ahead run there. That was huge.

"Like you said, the team chemistry," Fuller continued. "The seniors have taken the juniors under our wings. We hang out and do stuff together. It's really a great group of guys."

And great is no exaggeration when describing the hitting, fielding, throwing and base-running skills that Fuller brings to the diamond every day.

"He saves runs," said Saint Ignatius' veteran Head Coach Brad Ganor of one aspect of Fuller's many skills.

This corner was able to coax some comments from Sam regarding his two big catches at Strongsville, including his all-out extension, one-handed grab in left-center field in the bottom of the fifth that came with a runner on base, one out and the score knotted at 4. Saint Ignatius, trailing 4-0, tied the score with a four-run top of the fifth.

"It comes a lot from the positioning by the coaches and watching the ball for myself," Fuller said. "It's all about positioning and just going out there and executing it."

Strongsville, which has had some memorable encounters with the Wildcats in Varsity baseball, executed almost flawlessly en route to its four-run lead.

With one out and nobody on in the bottom of the third, the Mustangs road a walk to second baseman Sami Mehead, an RBI double to the gap in right-center field by first baseman Caleb Thomas and a throwing error to a 2-0 lead.

After Fuller took away a base hit with a diving catch in center field for the first out in the bottom of the fourth, Strongsville made it a 4-0 game behind a double by catcher Jake Boker, a walk to third baseman Charles Lewis, an error and a two-out, two-run bases-loaded double by Mehead.

"It doesn't appear that there is ever any panic," Coach Ganor said of his 2015 Cats. "Coach Blazer (Cats veteran hitting coach Matt Blazer) said it perfectly, you can't teach that stuff. And they have it. That's a testament to these senior leaders, guys who have been on the team since their sophomore year and have been around the big-game experience. They have taught everyone else how to react to situations."

Saint Ignatius' reaction was what one expects from a program that is traditionally among the state's best every spring.

With senior second baseman Mullen Socha fueling the Cats' four-run top of the fifth with a one-out base hit and sophomore outfielder/pitcher Ryan Jacobs (RBI single), Fuller (RBI double) and junior third baseman Kevin Mingus (a game-tying, two-run double) providing the clutch hits, there was almost a hush hovering over the Strongsville dugout.

After Wildcats' No. 1 starter M.J. Nara got some work in by pitching a scoreless bottom of the fifth that was highlighted by Fuller's big-time catch in left-center, gritty senior shortstop and Strongsville resident Jake Kucia led off the top of the sixth with a walk. Evans followed with his picture-perfect sacrifice bunt and Zajaczkowski sent a 1-2 pitch into center field for a base hit and a 5-4 Saint Ignatius lead.

Senior pitcher/outfielder Dylan Smolen, pinch running for Zajaczkowski, stole second base and came around to score Saint Ignatius' sixth run, the final tally of the game, off a sharp ground ball to the left side from the bat of Jacobs.

Then it was time for the Wildcats' bullpen to take over and, as they have done throughout the first week of the young season, senior right-hander Jacob Bangert and junior right-hander Murphy O'Brien turned the Mustangs away in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively.

Zajaczkowski's big hit in the top of the sixth was not his first special moment in Saint Ignatius' six games in five days stretch (see the corner's other baseball posts). Not bad for a young man who was cut as a freshman, sophomore and junior, and served most of this school year as The President of the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network.

"We'll take it,' said Coach Ganor of his team's 6-0 start. "We got all of the games in, which is a surprise, and we're ready to go again next week." 

To all of the Saint Ignatius family, have a wonderful Easter Sunday and we will see you in Ashland and Louisville, Kentucky next week.   

         

 

Wildcats Varsity Baseball wears down Berea-Midpark with talent and depth, 12-2, at the Titans' home field on Wednesday evening.
4/2/2015

By Eddie Dwyer

Head Coach Brad Ganor's Baseball Cats will take a record of 5-0 into Thursday's scheduled game at Strongsville High School versus the Mustangs. The first pitch is slated for 4:30 PM and both the corner and the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network will be on hand for game coverage. Joltin' Joe Mertens will have the lead call for the SIBN.

The game info from Berea-Midpark, scoring and key moments, was provided by the Wildcats' outstanding Senior Team Manager Kyle Kostura and posted by yours truly. Kyle's information allowed the corner to take in Wednesday evening's 31st annual Greater Cleveland Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Games, which were played in Sullivan Gymnasium and dedicated to Saint Ignatius' veteran teacher and former Head Basketball Coach Larry Arthur.

Here is the Kostura/Dwyer production.

Berea, Ohio – The Titans from Berea-Midpark treated their faithful to a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

At that point, Saint Ignatius made sure the Titans remembered the April Fools’ Day they played the Wildcats, as Coach Ganor’s team responded with 12 unanswered runs.

Saint Ignatius’ standout senior catcher/captain Alex Panstares described his team’s big-time response as being a combination of solid pitching from juniors Nick Freund and Rich McGraw, clutch hits, sound at bats, and unselfish baseball that led to big innings. Freund was making his first Varsity start and McGraw made his first Varsity appearance.

Among the Wildcats’ defensive gems were a slick double play turned in by the gifted senior combo of shortstop Jake Kucia and second baseman Mullen Socha, and a highlight-reel diving stop at first base by senior James Zajaczkowski.

Versatile junior Joe Evans also provided a solid day at the hot corner.

The depth Coach Ganor’s team possesses was probably best exemplified on Wednesday by multi-skilled junior Dennis Grosel, who is normally the starting first baseman.

Grosel gave Panstares a little rest by going behind the plate and coming up with a performance that saw him throw out a runner at second base and go 3-for-4 with three singles and a walk.

As we have mentioned before in our baseball game reports, Grosel is also one of the top starting quarterbacks in area high school football.

From the Captains

Alex Panstares: "It's good to have games where some younger guys get opportunities and step up. Today we had some of those guys really deliver for us and that's big. I've been really happy with our execution and energy level all week, but we have to come ready to go again tomorrow and finish the week strong."

Senior Captain/No. 1 starting pitcher M.J. Nara: "Great team energy. It shows what this team is capable of, coming back from 2-0 to winning 12-2, and what kind of group of guys we have."

Another of Coach Ganor’s versatile men for others, senior outfielder/pitcher/infielder Kurt Mantes will be on the mound at Strongsville.

The old corner, not the hot one that Joe Evans fielded so well, can't wait to get back on the diamond. 

 

The Varsity Baseball Wildcats excute their offense with some "small ball," play a solid defensive game and get another superb effort from their bullpen in Tuesday evening's 3-2 victory over defending Division I state champion Massillon Jackson.
4/1/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2015

Massillon, Ohio- As he stood along the first-base dugout in Massillon Jackson's atmosphere-rich baseball facility, Saint Ignatius Head Coach Brad Ganor smiled and said: "Today was a collective effort."

And that is what it usually takes to bring home a victory when you are playing on the home diamond of the defending big-school state champions.

In improving to 4-0, the Baseball Cats executed unselfishly at the plate, made some outstanding plays defensively and continued to get a great effort from their bullpen.

Seniors Jacob Bangert and Brendan Adler, along with junior stopper Murphy O'Brien, slammed the door on what is always a potent Jackson offense. Bangert, who relieved starter Dylan Smolen in the bottom of the third inning, now stands 2-0 on the season.

"Those were two really good pitchers," Coach Ganor said of Jackson's Sam Miller and Zach Meese. Miller started for the Polar Bears, but had to be removed from the game after being hit by a line drive near his shoulder and rib area in the top of the third inning.

On came Meese, a senior southpaw, who went the rest of the way while keeping his team in the game.

"We've faced good pitching now for three days in a row," said Coach Ganor, referring to Sunday's doubleheader at Dublin Jerome and Monday's game at Archbishop Hoban. "The small ball and the willingness to bunt in the three hole or four hole. The unselfishness is what we had hoped for and it's showing through right now."

After both teams took their traditional pregame infield drill under a sky that looked more suitable for late November, the skies cleared to a bright blue and the sun came out. And so did the Saint Ignatius offense.

Junior third baseman Kevin Mingus, a young man we introduced you to after his big offensive evening at Archbishop Hoban on Monday night, led off the top of the first inning at Jackson by lining an 0-1 pitch into right-center field.

Senior shortstop Jake Kucia then drew a walk off an excellent at-bat and the Cats went on to take a 2-0 lead off some heads-up small ball and hustle on the base paths that forced run-producing fielder's choices.

It stayed that way until the bottom of the third inning, when the Polar Bears, playing their first game of the new season, knotted the score at 2 on an RBI single through the left side by junior outfielder Nate Cobb and a sacrifice fly senior outfielder Jake Kempt.

After Jackson drew their fourth walk of the third inning, Bangert came on with runners on first and third and two outs.

Bangert, who emerged out of the bullpen last season, calmly retired the next batter on a 6-4 force. The Polar Bears might have done some more damage in the third inning if it wasn't for another great snap throw by senior catcher/captain Alex Panstares that picked a runner off first base. Junior first baseman Dennis Grosel, the Wildcats' starting Varsity Football quarterback, completed the pickoff with a smooth and sure sweeping tag.  

Saint Ignatius wasted little time in responding to Jackson's two-run third, as Smolen, who moved to right field after being relieved by Bangert, sent a leadoff line drive into center field for a base hit in the top of the fourth inning. That is why pitchers must have short memories my friends.

The unselfishness that Coach Ganor referred to then came to the fore as the powerful hitting Mingus laid down a bunt that Jackson's third baseman couldn't handle. Kucia followed with a sacrifice bunt that many major leaguers have difficulty executing.

With two outs, Panstares delivered what turned out to be the game-winning hit off an RBI single to right field.

From there, one of the game's and season's great story lines took place as Adler, a left-hander, came out of Coach Ganor's bullpen and threw three shutout innings. It was less than a year ago that Brendan's 2014 season ended on a torn ACL.

In the bottom of the seventh, it was O'Brien time.

After striking out five of the six batters he faced in his two previous perfect seventh-inning closer's role appearances, O'Brien came out of the bullpen to finish Tuesday's impressive victory. And he didn't disappoint.

Although it wasn't as perfect as his previous outings, O'Brien started with a strikeout. He then yielded a base hit to junior infielder Jon Conkle and the tying run stood on second base with one out after pinch runner Zach Mottice came up with a steal.

The big-hearted O'Brien said no more, however, as he sealed the victory with another strikeout and a fly out to right field.

Saint Ignatius will look to make it a 5-0 start to the 2015 season when they travel to Berea-Midpark on Wednesday at 5 PM. Junior right-hander Nick Freund is scheduled to make his first Varsity career start.

"Between Jacob (Bangert), Brendan (Adler) and Murphy (O'Brien) that's good, solid stacked pitching," Coach Ganor said. "And Alex (Panstares) had a heck of a game behind the plate. It's early to say put it in Murphy's hands and the game's over, but so far when he has had his opportunities he's done it."

FRESHMEN COMPLETE A JACKSON SWEEP: The Freshmen Cats also made the trip to Massillon Jackson on Tuesday and went home with a 9-3 victory. On Monday, the Junior Varsity Wildcats defeated the Polar Bears, 6-1.

IN OUR PRAYERS: Our prayers and sympathy go out to Saint Ignatius' tireless Senior Team Manager Kyle Kostura, whose Great Uncle, Dan Leonard, passed away on Tuesday. Dan, from the Archbishop Hoban Class of 1960, was inducted into Hoban's Hall of Fame as an outstanding football quarterback.  

 

Saint Ignatius overcomes a four-error third inning behind the clutch hitting of Kevin Mingus, Dennis Grosel, Jake Kucia and Kurt Mantes and goes on to defeat Archbishop Hoban, 7-3, in Akron on Monday evening.
3/31/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit March/April 2015

Akron, Ohio - It wasn't pretty, but Coach Brand Ganor's Wildcats were able to improve 3-0 behind their offense and some resilient pitching that held up despite six errors.

Although the Cats were not at the top of their game defensively, they actually did pull off some solid defensive plays, including an on-the-money throw from center field by senior Sam Fuller that took down a runner at the plate, a seed from left field by senior Kurt Mantes that nearly threw out another runner at the plate in what was a debatable call, and a rare 2-3-4 out in the bottom of the sixth inning that wiped out an Archbishop Hoban threat.

Fuller, a St. Bonaventure recruit, ignited Saint Ignatius' offense with a leadoff double in the top of the first inning and scored on a two-out, line-drive single to left-center field by junior first baseman Dennis Grosel.

Wildcats junior third baseman Kevin Mingus, a name to remember my friends, delivered a two-out, bases-loaded double that made it a 4-0 game in the top of the second inning. It was an authoritative shot to right center field and the first of Kevin's two impressive doubles on the evening.

Archbishop Hoban, which was playing its first game of the 2015 season, came back to cut the deficit to 4-3 by scoring two runs in the bottom of the second and a run in the bottom of the third. One of the keys to the game, however, was the Knights' inability to do more damage in the third inning.

Saint Ignatius, thanks in a large part to Fuller's highlight-reel throw from center field to home plate that was referred to in the second paragraph, survived a third inning that saw it commit four errors.    

The Wildcats' two-out hitting came to the fore again in the top of the fifth, as Coach Ganor's team would push its lead to 6-3 on an RBI single by gritty senior shortstop Jake Kucia and a run-scoring double to deep right field by Mantes.

Grosel, who is also a standout quarterback for Saint Ignatius' varsity football team, closed out the scoring with an RBI single down the left-field line in the top of the seventh that was argued as being a foul ball by Archbishop Hoban.

Wildcats talented and tough-mined junior relief pitcher Murphy O'Brien then sealed the deal with a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh that included two strikeouts. In his first outing of the season on Sunday, O'Brien wrapped up a 3-2 victory at Dublin Jerome by striking out the side in the bottom of the seventh.

Saint Ignatius' bullpen also turned in a strong fifth inning at Archbishop Hoban by junior Nick Freund, as Nick displayed his ability to field his position.

HOW THE SKIPPER SEES IT:  "You live and learn, three games in and as good as we felt yesterday (Sunday), that's baseball," said Coach Ganor in referring to his team's errors on Monday. "But, we found a way to win and we did it offensively. Our defense wasn't as sharp today, but we had a good offensive day. And we made some big pitches in big situations. That's the key to team victories.

"Sunday (the doubleheader sweep over Dublin Jerome), I thought our pitching and defense carried our offense," Coach Ganor continued. "Today, we needed a little more offense and they found it. As long as they learn the difference between wins and quality wins then I'm okay with that. I thought Kevin (Mingus) had a great game today, quality at-bats. And Sam (Fuller) had a great day until he went down (with cramps). All in all, a win is a win and I'll take it."

Diamond Dust: The key 2-3-4 play we referred to in the lead in paragraphs of this report saw Wildcats senior catcher/captain Alex Panstares make a picture-perfect snap throw to Grosel at first base with runners on first and second and two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Panstares' throw caught the runner off first base and Grosel teamed with crafty senior second baseman Mullen Socha on the putout, as Mullen made the tag in the run down for the third out.

Saint Ignatius senior reliever Jacob Bangert had coaxed the second out in the bottom of the sixth on a pop fly that was hauled in by Grosel in foul territory.

Can You Diggs It: Senior starting right-hander Luke Diggs made his 2015 debut a successful one on Monday evening. In his four complete innings, Luke, as per the Wildcats' stats, yielded two earned runs, had three strikeouts and walked a batter.

JAYVEES IMPRESS: The corner tips its cap to the Wildcats' Junior Varsity Baseball Team, which opened its season on Monday with a 6-1 victory over the highly regarded program from Massillon Jackson.

UP NEXT, THE DEFENDING STATE CHAMPS: Speaking of the Polar Bears from Massillon Jackson, the 2014 Division I State Champions are scheduled to host the Varsity Baseball Wildcats tomorrow (Tuesday) at 5 PM. If Mother Nature gives her okay, senior southpaw Dylan Smolen will take the mound for the Cats.

AND LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST: It was great to see Wildcats junior outfielder Michael Rogers back in the dugout with his teammates on Monday evening. During Sunday's doubleheader sweep at Dublin Jerome, Mike was hit in the face by the baseball off an errant pick-off attempt by Jerome while Mike was on second base. Mike suffered an injury to his right eye that included a fracture and he said on Monday that he "could" miss four to six weeks. The corner's prayers are with Mike and his family for a safe and speedy recovery.                 

 

M.J. Nara, Connor Adams and Murphy O'Brien were lights out on the mound, Jake Kucia and Mullen Socha flashed the leather and the hits were timely as Coach Brad Ganor's Varsity Baseball Cats swept Dublin Jerome, 3-2 and 6-1, at Jerome.
3/30/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit March/April 2015

Dublin, Ohio - Pitching, defense and timely hitting.

They have always been and always will be the recipe for success when it comes to America's Pastime.

Sunday afternoon, the Saint Ignatius Varsity Baseball Wildcats opened their 2015 Baseball Season by doing plenty of the above and now stand 2-0 after returning from Dublin, Ohio with a doubleheader sweep of the Celtics from Jerome High School by scores of 3-2 and 6-1. 

Playing under a sky at Dublin Jerome that offered occasional, but brief appearances by the sun and battling stiff winds and temperatures that were brisk baby, the Cats played with savvy, pitched with confidence and unveiled a senior shortstop-second base duo of Jake Kucia and Mullen Socha that could go down as one of the best in Saint Ignatius' baseball history.

"Yeah, I thought it was very good, very good," said Saint Ignatius' veteran Head Coach Brad Ganor, referring to a Wildcats pitching staff that allowed just three total hits in the two games combined. "And the defense was outstanding. We've only been on a field twice and I think today was indicative of the work they put in during the offseason, to be able to produce like that right out of the gate."

After a single and two stolen bases by Saint Ignatius' gifted senior center fielder Sam Fuller led to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning of game one, Cats senior right-hander/captain M.J. Nara shook off some control issues in the bottom of the first.

Nara, a big-game tested pitcher since his sophomore year, settled in and blanked the Celtics through four hitless innings. With the cold weather, Coach Ganor worked his No. 1 starter just those four innings and M.J.'s opening-day effort saw him throw 69 pitches, 42 of which were strikes, and finish with five strikeouts and three walks. Nara revealed to the corner that he threw almost exclusively a four-seam fastball, mixing in just one curveball and one changeup.

Saint Ignatius , which is scheduled to travel to Archbisop Hoban on Monday for 5 PM encounter with the Knights, combined performances out of the bullpen by senior Jacob Bangert and junior Murphy O'Brien that can be best described as gutsy and overpowering.

After Jerome took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth, the Wildcats tied the score with a run in the top of the sixth, an inning that was fueled by a consecutive base hits by senior catcher/captain Alex Panstares and junior first baseman Dennis Grosel, and a sacrifice bunt by Kucia.

Bangert then kept his team in the game with a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth.

With Kucia a vacuum at shortstop and his up-the-middle mate Socha displaying smooth footwork and glove work on a field that had obviously taken some of winter's best shots, Saint Ignatius scored the go-ahead run off a two-out, RBI sharp grounder to the left side by Panstares in the top of the seventh. Only a diving catch in left field by Jerome's Andrew Adolph prevented further damage.  

Enter O'Brien.

Needing just 12 pitches, 11 of which were strikes, O'Brien struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh and the Cats celebrated victory No. 1 in what appears to be a season of great promise. O'Brien said he threw 11 fastballs and just one curveball, which came off the final pitch of the game.

Another game one highlight was the plate awareness of senior outfielder Dylan Welch, who reached base three times. Saint Ignatius faced the Celtics' ace in game one, University of Cincinnati recruit Clayton Colvin. 

The top storyline of game two was the pitching of sophomore left-hander Connor Adams.

Adams, as good-natured as he is talented, pitched with the confidence of a four-year starter in limiting the Celtics to one hit before senior southpaw Brendan Adler, taking the mound less than a year after knee surgery, closed it out in the seventh inning.

Displaying a fluid and at times overpowering delivery, Adams struck out six, walked two and hit a batter. He seemed to have the Celtics guessing in the bottom of the fifth, when he struck out the side. The Wildcats staked the young man with unlimited potential to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

Saint Ignatius came up with a number of timely hits in game two, including the first hit and run batted in of his Wildcat baseball career by senior first baseman James Zajaczkowski, which made it a 4-0 game in the top of the fifth. Kucia's hustle double set up an RBI for junior first baseman George Asodorian in the top of the sixth and junior infielder Joe Evans delivered an RBI single in the top of the seventh that scored Fuller, who reached on an authoritative double to left field. Fuller is a St. Bonaventure recruit.

Jerome's run in the second game was courtesy of an RBI single by Will Zeigler in the bottom of the sixth.

"It was a great two wins for the team today," said Zajaczkowski, the President of the Saint Ignatius Broadcasting Network, who came out of the announcing booth and won a spot with this year's Baseball Cats.

"I am just happy that I was able to contribute when called upon," continued the young man who is always the epitome of class. "Obviously it was a great feeling."

And before heading home, Zajaczkowski added: "I don't think there is any doubt about that," when asked if his first hit and RBI as a Wildcat will be something he will always cherish.

This corner can say with confidence that James won't be the only one recalling that special moment.     

 

The 2015 Saint Ignatius Varsity Baseball Preview. A solid group of seniors will serve as the foundation, on and off the diamond.
3/24/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit March/April 2015

The corner takes a look at the Baseball Cats, who are coming off a season that saw them finish 19-8 after a 5-2 loss to North Royalton in the Strongsville Division I District Championship game. North Royalton went on to a state runner-up finish after losing to Massillon Jackson, 5-1, in the big-school championship game. The 2014 Cats finished in a three-way tie for the 20th spot in last year's final state poll by the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association.  

Ohio City - Sitting in the office of Saint Ignatius Head Baseball Coach Brad Ganor, senior captains Alex Panstares and M.J. Nara almost echoed each other's thoughts while discussing the 2015 Wildcats.

And chemistry was the operative thought.

"We have a good group of seniors coming back," said Panstares, who will be entering his third consecutive spring as a mainstay behind the plate for Coach Ganor. "I think the seniors will all do a nice job of taking the underclassmen and putting together this team that is already pretty tight. It's a great group of guys, on and off the field. Everyone really gets along well."

Nara, who emerged on the scene with seven saves during the Wildcats' Division I state-runner up season of 2013, is now the No. 1 starter. It's a role M. J. relishes.

"Our team chemistry is great, everyone is just clicking together this year," said Nara, a Walsh University recruit.  "Watching practices, our defense has improved a lot, especially in the infield. So that's going to be huge."

Along with the honor of being at the top of the rotation for one of the state's highly recognized big-school programs, Nara emphasized that his other major role is being there for the Cats' younger arms. And there are plenty of those this spring.

"Talking with them about pitches and calming their nerves," Nara said.

With their big-game experience, Panstares and Nara are quick to point out that although the Wildcats have looked sharp in practice and appear to have a solid bond, they haven't accomplished anything yet as far as the 2015 season is concerned.

"We have to go out and execute it," Panstares said. "One of the things we've spent a lot of time on in practice is bunt defense. It's all of the little things. There are some teams that can come out and just mash and overpower you. We're going to have to be a scrappy team that battles and executes."

As Nara sees it, the 2015 Wildcats also have to  play "the mental side of baseball."

"We can't be too high or too low, we have to stay at an even keel," Nara said. "And you can't turn it on and off when it comes to energy."

As one of the standout catchers in all of Northeastern Ohio, if not the entire state, Panstares has worked with some solid top of the rotation pitchers since 2013. And he doesn't hesitate in saying that Nara is right there with all of them.

"The nice thing about this year is that we have guys who potentially could be playoff starters," said Panstares of the promising underclassmen. "The key is going to be the depth we have in the bullpen, guys you can put out there and trust. I think we have those guys."

Among those trustworthy veterans are senior right hander Jacob Bangert, who turned in several strong outings out of the bullpen last year, senior right hander Luke Diggs, who can start or come on in relief, and versatile senior southpaws Dylan Smolen and Brendan Adler. Adler is coming back from a 2014 knee injury and Smolen is also a capable outfielder. 

"So far through live sessions and bullpens, I'm excited about some these younger guys," Panstares continued. "Sophomore (lefty) Connor Adams, juniors Nick Freund and Murphy O'Brien and others have really impressed."

As Nara was quick to interject, the key to Saint Ignatius' 2015 pitching staff will be "living low."

"We don't have guys that can bring it in the low to mid 90s, so we have to stay low and hit our spots," Nara said.

As for the Wildcats' other position players, an area that Panstares says has exceptional depth, you can start with senior center fielder Sam Fuller; senior outfielder Kurt Mantes, who has moved from the infield; veteran junior first baseman/third baseman Dennis Grosel, who is also the Cats' standout varsity football quarterback; baseball savvy senior middle infielders Jake Kucia (shortstop) and Mullen Socha (second base), and junior first baseman George Asadorian.

Fuller, a St. Bonaventure recruit with exceptional defensive and base running skills, put together some of the finest at-bats last season that this corner has seen in nearly 45 years of covering and reporting on area high school baseball. And Saint Ignatius' veteran hitting coach Matt Blazer will concur with that statement.   

Vying for starting roles and providing that depth Panstares referred to will be junior second baseman/shortstop Joe Evans, senior third baseman/first baseman Dylan Welch, junior outfielders Dan Volpe and Michael Rogers, junior third baseman/second baseman Kevin Mingus and senior first baseman James Zajaczkowski.

In what is a great example of perseverance, Zajaczkowski, the President of the Saint Ignatius Broadcasting Network, has come out of the broadcasting booth to earn a spot on Coach Ganor's talented and competitive roster.

And when it comes to the 2015 roster, let us not forget Senior Team Manager extraordinaire Kyle Kostura, who keeps all of us in line, and Senior Lead Broadcaster for Wildcats Baseball Joe Mertens. Just like last spring and through the early fall, I will count on Joe's expertise on my beloved Indians.  

Coach Ganor, who also serves as the Director of Saint Ignatius' Robert M. Walton '41 Center for Learning, is entering his 11th season as the Wildcats' skipper and his 17th spring overall in the program.

The man who has guided the Baseball Cats to four state final fours, including a school record three consecutive trips in 2007, '08 and '09, and two state runner-up finishes in '08 and 2013, says that when it comes to his team's strengths this spring chemistry is definitely No. 1.

"We're always talented and there have been years with varying levels of talent, but usually we have a highly talented team compared to most," said Coach Ganor, a former baseball standout at St. Edward High School and Cleveland State University who has compiled 222 career victories at Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School. Coach Ganor was the Pitching Coach for Saint Ignatius' 2002 State Championship Team under Coach Brian Morgan, a team that featured, among others, a gifted sophomore outfielder/pitcher named Brian Hoyer.

"This year is a lot like those teams that made it to the final four, where the chemistry is so similar,' Coach Ganor continued. "And probably a little bit better (in terms of the chemistry). I go back to 2002 when I said that team had the best chemistry of any team I have coached. They were great friends and highly talented, and I would compare this team to that chemistry of 2002.

"Talent will win out most of the time," said Coach Ganor. "But when you're in a tight game, that chemistry and that willingness to sacrifice yourself for the team comes into play. And that's how you win a district final, a regional final or a state final. The thing you can't ever coach is the team chemistry and I can guarantee you that this team will be ready for the playoffs by mid May."

NOTE: MOTHER NATURE PERMITTING, THE BASEBALL CATS WILL OPEN THEIR SEASON ON SATURDAY AT DUBLIN JEROME. IT IS A SCHEDULED DOUBLEHEADER AT 11 AM AND 1:30 PM, BUT AS COACH GANOR EMPHASIZED, HE WILL BE HAPPY IF THEY GET ONE GAME IN.

After Saturday, the Wildcats are slated to travel to Archbishop Hoban on March 30th, to defending Division I state champion Massillon Jackson on March 31st and to Strongsville on April 2. All three of those road games are scheduled for 5 PM.

During the Easter Break (April 8-10), the Cats will travel to Louisville, Kentucky for the Super Prep Series Tournament and they will play their first home game on April 11th versus the Lakewood Rangers at Baldwin Wallace University. The first pitch from Berea will be 3 PM.           

 

 

VIDEO: Hits vs. Hunger
12/15/2014

2015 Varsity Baseball Schedule has been released
10/10/2014

By Eddie Dwyer and Presented By Wildcats Head Baseball Coach Brad Ganor.

I realize it is the fall season and cold temperatures and snow are just around the corner, by I got permission from the baseball gods to post this since the MLB postseason is still in high gear. Come to think of it, high school baseball teams in Northeast Ohio experience their share of wrath from Mother Nature.

It is good to see the Mentor Cardinals returning to the Cats' baseball schedule. The Cardinals and the Wildcats had some memorable regular season and regional encounters in the past.  /Eddie D.  


The 2015 Saint Ignatius Varsity Baseball Schedule


Date             Opponent                          Site                                   Time

March 28      @Dublin Jerome HS             11:00am

March 28      @Dublin Jerome HS             1:30pm

March 30      @Archbishop Hoban             5:00pm

March 31      @Massillon Jackson (2014 Div. 1 state champs) 5:00pm

April 2           @Strongsville HS  5:00pm

April 6           @Ashland  Ashland University  4:30pm

April 8           TBD   Louisville, KY Tournament   TBD

April 9           TBD   Louisville, KY Tournament    TBD

April 10         TBD   Louisville, KY Tournament    TBD

April 11         Tallmadge  Baldwin Wallace University 3:00pm

April 14         @Massillon Washington HS 5:00pm

April 15         Aurora  Baldwin Wallace University 5:00pm

April 17         @St. Edward  Pipeyard  5:00pm

April 18         Strongsville  Baldwin Wallace University  3:00pm

April 20         Stow Baldwin Wallace University 5:00pm

April 21         Willoughby South  Classic Park  5:00pm

April 22         Holy Name TBD 5:00pm

April 25         Ohio Jesuit Tournament at St. Xavier HS TBD

April 26         Ohio Jesuit Tournament at St. Xavier HS TBD

April 28         Olmsted Falls TBD 5:00pm

April 30        @ Kirtland 5:00pm

May 1           Mentor  Pipeyard  6:00pm

May 2           TBD  Pipeyard TBD

May 5           Eastlake North Classic Park  5:00pm

May 6           St. Vincent/St. Mary  University of Akron 5:00pm

May 8           @Canton Central Catholic  5:00pm

May 9           Erie (Pa.)  Cathedral Prep  Baldwin Wallace University  3:00pm

May 11         Mayfield  Baldwin Wallace University  5:00pm

May 13         @Westlake  7:00pm

May 16          Brunswick Baldwin Wallace University 12:00pm

May 18          @Notre Dame Cathedral Latin 5:00pm

May 11-12     Sectional

May 18-19     District

May 28-29     Regional

June 4-6       State

 

Inaugural Saint Ignatius Baseball 13 U Tournament a success
6/24/2014

By Brendan DeVenney '17

Head Coach Brad Ganor has done a lot in his tenure as baseball coach at Saint Ignatius, everyday trying to improve the Wildcat Baseball program. He has led the Wildcats to four state final four appearances, including runners-up in 2008 and 2013. He has sent former Wildcats to the profressional level, such as Derek Dietrich '07 (Miami Marlins), Mike Burke '10 (Baltimore Orioles), Jeremy Farrell '05 (Pittsburgh Pirates), and Luke Farrell '09 (Kansas City Royals). And he has also led the Saint Ignatius Baseball Summer Camp for a while now, that gives grade school kids a chance to learn from the coaches and players. 

But recently, he went above and beyond the dugout and Wildcat High. With the help of his outstanding coaching staff and players, Coach Ganor and the Saint Ignatius Baseball program held the inaugural Saint Ignatius Baseball 13 U Tournament this past weekend at Bohlken Park in Fairview Park, Ohio. The tournament featured some of the best 13 U travel baseball teams Northeast Ohio has to offer.

Some of these teams included Old School Iron Baseball, Captains Baseball Academy, Sting Black Baseball, and the Ohio Shockers. 

The tournament included a total of eight teams and took place over a span of three days. Once Sunday rolled around it was time to crown a champion, where the winners of the Wasmer Division and Carroll Division (much appropriate) met on sun drenched diamond at Bohlken Park. Those two teams would be Force Ohio Baseball and the North Coast Red Devils.

Force Ohio and North Coast did not disappiont. Sam Melnyk would get the start on the mound for the Red Devils. However he didn't pitch his best in the bottom of the first. Force would get on the board early in the first with a pair of runs to make it 2-0.

But then in the top of the 2nd, the Red Devils would take the lead. Matt McGrath got the start for Force Ohio, but after a smooth first, the second inning was a little rocky. J.J. Conway would deliver an RBI single to get North Coast on the board. Then Tanner Egger would hit a big RBI double that would tie it up. Then the Red Devils would take the lead with an Andrew Tielke RBI single. 

With the score 3-2 in the third, North Coast added three more runs. Dylan Magda stole home on a passed ball, that would cause some commotion in the Force Ohio dugout. Then Conway delievered again with an RBI double that plated a pair of Red Devils. North Coast was cruising with a 6-2 commanding lead. 

Force Ohio would not settle for a loss in the championship, however. Leighton Banjoff got things going in the home half of the third with a home run to deep center. In the fourth both pitchers delievered 1-2-3 innings. Nico Aagesen did come on, however, in relief of McGrath for Force Ohio.

The fifth inning was really when the wheels came off for the Red Devils. Ben Wilson of Force Ohio blooped an RBI single into right to give Force Ohio the lead, and they would not look back. Force Ohio combined for nine runs in the fifth inning. Somewhere in that bottom of the fifth with no outs, Joe Horoszko came on in relief for Melnyk. Force Ohio plated seven of the nine runs with no outs. 

North Coast had little rally in them as Aagesen was lights out from that point on. North Coast would gain one more run in the game, where as Force Ohio would bring home three more leading up to a 14-7 victory for Force Ohio.

No matter who was crowned champions, the inaugural Saint Ignatius Baseball 13 U Tournament was a complete success. Coach Ganor made it a family, friendly atmosphere with hot dogs (because you can't go wrong with hot dogs and baseball), music and plenty of Wildcat merchandise available. 

The idea of a tournament was in the back of Coach Ganor's mind for a while. 

"We started the tournament because we wanted to create a tournament that was affordable and provided a great experience for the players. The competition level was one key factor," said Ganor. "Ultimately, we want to promote Saint Ignatius High School as best as we can."

Congats to Coach Ganor and the entire Saint Ignatius Baseball program on a successful inaugural tournament!

 

Former Wildcat Mike Burke '10 drafted by Baltimore Orioles in MLB Draft
6/7/2014
Saint Ignatius' season comes to an end after a District Final loss to the Bears
5/22/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2014

Strongsville, Ohio - After completing his 10th season as the Head Baseball Coach at Saint Ignatius High School and his 16th year in the program overall, Brad Ganor offered no excuses on Wednesday evening.

"It just wasn't our day," Coach Ganor said after his Wildcats were defeated by North Royalton, 5-2, in the Division I District Championship Game at Strongsville High School. "We just got beat and they were the better team today.

"I hope they can make a run at it (a state title)," Coach Ganor continued in reference to the Bears. "They feel good about their team and their seniors, and why not? I hope they make a run all the way to the final four."

The Bears, seeded third at the Strongsville sectional/district, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning before the top-seeded Wildcats answered with a run in the bottom of the third.

Among those providing the early offensive fire for North Royalton was third baseman Tyler Pencak, who led off the top of the third with a double to deep right-center field. Pencak, the ninth batter in the Bears' order, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a one-out sharp grounder to shortstop off the bat of second baseman Nate Kocan. An errant throw to first base enabled Kocan to advance to second and he ended up at third after another pitch in the dirt.     

Up stepped Bears gifted shortstop Bryan Bielak, who delivered another authoritative double that made it a 2-0 game.

Saint Ignatius, behind consecutive singles by senior shortstop David Bodziony, junior second baseman Jake Kucia and sophomore third baseman Dennis Grosel, cut the deficit to 2-1 in the bottom of the third. It was at that point North Royalton starting pitcher Frank Frate dug deep and prevented what could have been a big-time inning for the Wildcats.

After Grosel's RBI single, Saint Ignatius still had runners on first and second with no outs. Frate, who improved to 7-0 on the season, retired the next three Wildcats on a pop up to Kocan, a fly out to Reese Albright in left field and a fly ball to Jack Marousek in right field.

The Bears, who will take a record of 19-7 into next week's Regional Semifinal match up with St. Edward, rode the emotion of Frate's clutch pitching to a two-run top of the fourth.

Designated Branden Walsh and Marousek started the fourth inning by drawing back-to-back walks and center fielder Garrett Strom made it a 4-1 game by driving a two-out, two-run double to deep left-center field.

It stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth, when Saint Ignatius, the big-school runner-up to Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller in 2013, closed to 4-2 on a two-out, run-scoring base hit by senior middle infielder Quillan Austria.

The evening belonged to the Bears, however, as their reliever, Alex Sir Louis, was able to prevent further damage in the bottom of the sixth and went on to pitch a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh. North Royalton gave Sir Louis some insurance to work with by combining a hit batsman, a passed ball and a single by Strom into a run in the top of the seventh.

Coach Ganor's Wildcats, who got two outstanding innings of perfect relief pitching (the 5th and 6th) from senior right-hander Shane Skuhrovec, closed out another memorable spring with a record of 19-8.

"They're a good group of kids," said Coach Ganor of his 2014 'Cats. "It's disappointing, because your expectations are so high. But ultimately, they're great kids, some that we've had on the varsity for three years.

"Along with last year's run, this senior class has done some special things," Coach Ganor continued. "I'm very proud of them and proud that I had the opportunity to coach them. They will always have a home back at Saint Ignatius and with the baseball program, but the most important thing is that after they entered this school four years ago, they get to walk across the stage in a couple of weeks (with a Diploma from Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School in their hands)."

          

Wildcats survive a scare from Normandy to advance to the District Final
5/21/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2014

Strongsville, Ohio - Between the late innings of Tuesday afternoon's Division I District Semifinal Game versus Normandy, Saint Ignatius' gritty and gifted junior right-hander MJ Nara kept saying, "This is my game, this is my game."

If any pitcher on any level ever deserved the opportunity to finish what he started, MJ certainly filled that bill on the diamond at Strongsville High School.

Pitching with heart, confidence, skill and savvy, Nara overcame a little early adversity, got the late support he needed from his offense and went on to turn away the Invaders from Normandy, 5-4.

In throwing a complete game, MJ yielded six hits and just one earned run out the four Normandy scored. He struck out nine, did not walk a batter and racked up 65 strikes out of the 93 pitches he threw.

That effort, along with a one-out, two-run double by sophomore third baseman Dennis Grosel in the bottom of the sixth inning, vaulted the top-seeded Wildcats into Wednesday's District Championship Game versus third-seeded North Royalton. The first pitch from Strongsville High School will be 5 PM.

North Royalton advanced by defeating second-seeded Strongsville, 7-2, in Tuesday evening's District Semifinal at Strongsville High School. The Bears rallied late from a 2-0 deficit.

"I mean MJ, what a fantastic job," said Saint Ignatius Head Baseball Coach Brad Ganor after his team improved to 19-7. "I think he was afraid we were going to take him out because every inning he kept saying the same thing, 'This is my game.' That's exactly what you want to see from a competitor. He really showed a lot of moxie."

Saint Ignatius, the big-school state runner-up to Archbishop Moeller in 2013, took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

With one out and the bases empty in the bottom of the first, junior left fielder Sam Fuller beat out a sharp grounder that was fielded deep in the hole at shortstop, senior center fielder Nick Fabian followed with a single through the left side and senior first baseman Joe Khoury delivered an RBI single to right-center field. The 'Cats took advantage of wild pitch and a throwing error in scoring two more runs, however, a run was eventually taken off the board after the umpires ruled that Fabian interfered on his slide to home plate. Thus a 2-0, first-inning lead.  

Normandy, the seventh seed at Strongsville, knotted the score at 2 in the top of the second. The Invaders' big blow came with two outs - an RBI single by second baseman Tyler Carcioppolo off a 1-2 pitch. Carcioppolo's clutch hit scored right fielder Sean Mayer, who had singled with one out and moved to third on a fielder's choice and a wild pitch. Another wild pitch, a stolen base by Carcioppolo and a throwing error produced the tying run.

After Normandy's Logan Stacho set the Wildcats down in order in the bottom of the second, the Invaders took a 4-2 lead in the top of the third.

Doing the damage for Normandy was left fielder Alex Schirripa, who lined a leadoff single into left field from his ninth spot in the order and catcher Anthony Louis, who produced a two-out, two-run single that dropped into right-center field off a 1-2 pitch. Saint Ignatius helped set up both of those runs with throwing errors.

The momentum seemed to swing back to Saint Ignatius after Nara threw an impressive 1-2-3, four-pitch inning in the top of the fourth. The Wildcats combined base hits by senior designated hitter Shane Skuhrovec and senior shortstop David Bodziony, a sacrifice bunt by junior second baseman Jake Kucia and a throwing error off Kucia's bunt in cutting the deficit to 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth. Two huge strikeouts by Stacho and a 6-3 groundout prevented Saint Ignatius from having a big-time inning.     

"I knew my offense would get me through it," said Nara, who became a starter this spring after a solid sophomore season as the 'Cats' closer out of the bullpen. "We were hitting the ball hard, it just wouldn't fall. On the mound, when I rushed, I just stepped back and took a deep breath. That calmed me down and 'Marg' (Wildcats standout senior southpaw Nick Margevicius) helped settle me down.

"I threw mostly a two-seam (fastball) and the curveball worked today, too. Everything was working today, it felt good."

And it felt even better in bottom of the sixth, when a leadoff single by Skuhrovec, a sacrifice bunt by Bodziony, an infield stinger to the right side by senior middle infielder Quillan Austria and a stolen base by Austria set up Grosel's two-run hustle double.

Nara would finish what he started, as he took the mound in the top of the seventh, sandwiched two strikeouts around a single by Stacho and ended the game by coaxing a pop out to Khoury.

"They didn't panic," said Coach Ganor of his Wildcats, who outhit the Invaders, 10-6. "Sticking to the game plan is exactly what they did and Dennis Grosel stepped up huge after not being in the (starting) lineup. I told them before the game that Saint Ignatius rises to the playoff level. We're built for the playoffs, that's what our job is.

"People will look at it and say, oh it's just Normandy," Coach Ganor continued. "That's a good baseball team and that kid (Stacho) kept us off balance. They might not have a guy throwing 95 (mph), but they're a pretty good team that put the bat on the ball. It was a dogfight, so hats off to them."

The Invaders ended their season just as they did last year - with a tough loss to Saint Ignatius. In 2013, Normandy was defeated by the Wildcats, 2-1, in the Strongsville District Championship Game.

Saint Ignatius Baseball ranked 20th in OHSBCA State Poll this week
5/19/2014

By Eddie Dwyer

Here are the Top 20 teams for 2014 in the Division I State Poll by the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association. The Wildcats finished in a three-way tie for the 20th spot.

1 Walsh Jesuit                           
2 Lakota West                                
3 Archbishop Moeller                                  
4 Hudson                    
5 Springboro                                         
6 Olentangy Liberty                                 
7 Grove City                                                
8 Westerville Central                                 
9 Cincinnati Elder                                                      
10 St John's Jesuit                                   
10 Massillon Jackson                                                
12 Thomas Worthington                                                
13 Mason                                                               
14 Wadsworth                                                                
15 Strongsville                                                                        
15 Mentor                                                                            
17 Miamisburg                                                                      
18 Beavercreek                                                       
18 Perrysburg                                                            
20 Saint Ignatius                                                                                                               
20 Cincinnati Anderson                                                                   
20 Lakota East

Wildcats come out and take the regular season finale over Shaker Heights on Senior Day
5/18/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2014

Berea, Ohio - It was only fitting that a game started under gray clouds ended with sunshine and skies that were predominately blue.

Maybe, just maybe, someone of a much higher authority was also saying Thank You to the leaders and the example-setters of the 2014 Saint Ignatius Varsity Baseball Team after the Wildcats walked off the atmosphere-rich diamond at Baldwin Wallace University early Saturday evening with an 8-2 victory over Shaker Heights.

Prior to the first pitch of what was the final regular season game before this coming week's OHSAA Division I District play, Saint Ignatius Head Coach Brad Ganor and his staff conducted what was the highlight of the Wildcats' "Senior Players and Parents Recognition Day."

Accompanied by their parents, Wildcats seniors Joe Khoury, Nick Fabian, Pat Gulick, Nick Longo, Shane Skuhrovec, Kyle Daugenti, Nick Margevicius, David Bodziony, Bennett Kinzel, Quillan Austria and Ryan Cooper took the field to a roaring ovation.

Doing the introductions was Saint Ignatius' SIBN legend and true Man for Others, John Fanta '13, who was home from Seton Hall, where he is continuing to make his mark in the field of sports journalism. John also paid tribute to the gifted and tireless voice of this year's Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network, senior Pat McGuire, and Coach Ganor's senior stats wizard, Marco Valletta, who was attending a family wedding.

In what was a day for the entire Saint Ignatius Baseball Family, the freshman and junior varsity teams got things off on a positive note by ignoring Mother Nature's late morning and early afternoon showers and posting impressive run-rule victories over the freshman and jayvee teams from Ashland. It was great to see adults from all three schools - Saint Ignatius, Shaker Heights and Ashland - breaking bread together in a picnic-like atmosphere that was prepared and created by the mothers of the Wildcats' baseball program.

"I'm so glad the senior parents organized this day and hopefully it's going to be a nice tradition that we continue," Coach Ganor said after his Wildcats improved 18-7 heading into Tuesday's 2 PM District Semifinal Game at Strongsville High School. Saint Ignatius will play the winner of Monday's sectional final between Garfield Heights and Normandy. "It's just great to have a connection to the program on all three levels on one day."

This old-timer would also like to express his Thank You to the Wildcats' seniors, whom I have had the privilege to watch grow as players and as exceptional young men.

That said, here is a look at Saturday's victory over a young and promising Shaker Heights team.

As Saint Ignatius' players were busy cleaning the dugouts and making sure the field at Baldwin Wallace University was looking as sharp as it always does, a field the University and Yellow Jackets Head Baseball Coach Brian Harrison are kind enough to allow Saint Ignatius to call one of its homes, Wildcats Head Coach Brad Ganor reflected on the game that had just taken place.

"It was fun to play guys out of position a little bit, it was fun to get guys some opportunities," Coach Ganor said of his all-senior starting lineup on a day that was set aside for the seniors. "There is enough time to be ultra competitive and ultra focused in the playoffs. To blow off a little steam and have some fun, we'll take that."

What probably came as no surprise to Shaker Heights on Saturday, Saint Ignatius, year in and year out, has a roster that can be competitive with just about any team in Ohio - no matter what lineup card is handed to the home plate umpire.

Playing advantageous "small ball" and displaying their pitching depth, the Wildcats took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning.

Senior shortstop David Bodziony, who epitomizes the 'Cats' team-first approach, took advantage of some indecision on the part of the Raiders' defense when he hit a high pop fly into short right field and ended up at second base. Senior catcher Pat Gulick then laid down a text-book bunt that resulted in a base hit and advanced Bodziony to third base.

With one out, Gulick hustled to second base on a pitch in the dirt and senior second baseman Ryan Cooper, another of Coach Ganor's versatile and selfless performers, scored Bodziony from third with a perfect squeeze bunt that some Major League baseball players seem to have difficulty executing. The 'Cats' second run was the result of a passed ball.

After two strong shutout innings by senior right-hander Shane Skuhrovec, amiable and talented junior right-hander Luke Diggs took the mound for Coach Ganor.

It was cool hand Luke, as after yielding a leadoff single to Raiders freshman second baseman Nathan Hill, Diggs promptly picked off Hill and ended the top of the third by coaxing a pop up to senior Bennett Kinzel at first base and firing a strikeout.

Following another scoreless inning by Diggs, Saint Ignatius began to take control by scoring four times in the bottom of the fourth.

A leadoff walk by Gulick, a line-drive single into left field from Kinzel, a passed ball and another masterful bunt by Cooper made it a 3-0 game. Standout senior right fielder/closer Nick Longo, a Miami of Ohio recruit, delivered an RBI double to deep right-center field, senior designated hitter/middle infielder Quillan Austria provided the fifth run with a perfect squeeze bunt, and Saint Ignatius led, 6-0, after senior center fielder and West Virginia recruit Nick Fabian punched a single into right field that he turned into a hustle double.

Shaker Heights (14-9), whose roster was comprised of five juniors, five sophomores and three freshmen, scored its two runs in the top of the fifth on an RBI single by sophomore pinch hitter Braden Meyerhoefer and a bases-loaded single by sophomore first baseman Canyon McWilliams. An error and a base hit to left field by sophomore third baseman Vince Baerman fueled the two-run rally.

Coach Michael Babinec's Raiders could have done further damage in the top of the fifth. However, with one out and the bases full with red jerseys, Wildcats junior southpaw Dylan Smolen came up with consecutive strikeouts.

After another strong inning of relief in the top of the sixth by Saint Ignatius junior right-hander Jacob Bangert, an effort that saw Jacob fan three, the Wildcats left no doubt with a two-run bottom of the sixth.

With one out, multi-skilled junior outfielder Sam Fuller was hit by a pitch. Fabian came up with a two-out base hit and baseball savvy senior first baseman Joe Khoury, who played the hot corner on Saturday, made it 7-2 with an RBI single through the left side. A wild pitch brought home Saint Ignatius' eighth run.

Longo came on to settle the issue in the top of the seventh and now the focus turns to Tuesday and the 2 PM Strongsville District Semifinal versus either Garfield Heights or Normandy, who, because of rainouts and proms, play their sectional final on Monday.

Gifted junior right-hander MJ Nara will take the mound for the 'Cats on Tuesday.

      

Wildcats defeat the Patriots in Sectional Final
5/17/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2014

Eastlake, Ohio - Saint Ignatius Head Baseball Coach Brad Ganor praised his pitching staff and was quite pleased with his team's errorless performance after the Wildcats defeated the Patriots from Valley Forge, 4-1, on Friday evening in an OHSAA Division I sectional-final match up at Classic Park.

As Wildcats assistant coach Josh Bieneman emphasized to the 'Cats after the game, the postseason is all about surviving and moving on.

Saint Ignatius, fueled by an awesome three innings from its ace, senior southpaw Nick Margevicius, and a three-run bottom of the first that was keyed by an authoritative two-run single up the middle by junior catcher Alex Panstares, moved on to next week's Division I District Tournament at Strongsville High School.

Working on a pitch count, Margevicius, who improved to 7-0 this spring and 16-1 when you combine this year with last year, struck out all nine of the Patriots he faced. To describe the big lefty's performance as overpowering would be an understatement, as Valley Forge had no chance against the Ryder University recruit.

Margevicius threw 33 pitches, 27 of which were strikes.

Saint Ignatius (17-7), the top seed for the Strongsville Sectional/District, will face the winner of Monday's sectional final between Garfield Heights and Normandy in a District semifinal on Tuesday at Strongsville. Tuesday's first pitch is scheduled for 2 PM.

The Wildcats will prepare for District play with a game tomorrow (Saturday) against the Shaker Heights Raiders at Baldwin Wallace University. The first pitch is slated for 4 PM and there will be a special Senior Day recognition ceremony prior to the game.

After three innings of smoke city from Margevicius, junior right-hander MJ Nara threw two scoreless innings that featured three strikeouts. With Patriots on first and second and no outs in the top of the fourth, MJ recorded his first strikeout, coaxed a 5-3 groundout and fired another K.

Saint Ignatius junior right-hander Jacob Bangert threw a 1-2-3 sixth and senior right fielder/closer Nick Longo shut the door in the top of the seventh.

As for the Wildcats' offense, Panstares' two-run single in the bottom of the first was preceded by a one-out walk to gifted junior left fielder Sam Fuller, an error and walks to standout senior first baseman Joe Khoury and Mr. Versatility, senior designated hitter Shane Skuhrovec. Shane will be on the mound for Saturday's match up with Shaker Heights.

Coach Ganor's club rode a leadoff single by Longo, an error, a perfectly executed bunt by Fuller that he easily beat out for a base hit and a run-scoring foul fly ball off the bat of multi-skilled senior center fielder Nick Fabian into a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second. 

Although Coach Ganor emphasized that he thought the final score did not portray how much his Wildcats controlled the game, the veteran skipper was quick to praise Valley Forge junior right-hander and starting pitcher Chris Harley for the way he settled in after the second inning.

Harley went 5 1/3 innings, yielded six hits, two earned runs, walked four and had a strikeout. Harley threw 92 pitches, 44 for strikes.

The official line score on the game for the 10th-seeded Patriots was 1-3-5. Saint Ignatius' line was 4-6-0.

Sectional Final vs. Valley Forge postponed..........................AGAIN!
5/15/2014

By Eddie Dwyer

****Today's (Thursday) Division I sectional final game between Saint Ignatius and Valley Forge has been rained out and has been rescheduled for Friday at 5 PM in Classic Park.  

****Ashland canceled the varsity game for Saturday to make up a league game. However, the Wildcats are now scheduled to face Shaker Heights on Saturday at Baldwin Wallace University. A special Senior Day recognition will take place before the 4 PM first pitch.

****PLEASE NOTE: The winner of the Valley Forge-Saint Ignatius sectional final plays the winner of the Garfield Heights versus Normandy sectional final in next week's District Semifinals at Strongsville High School. Today's Garfield Heights-Normandy game was also rained out.

Now stays with us. Garfield Heights has Prom on Friday and Normandy has Prom on Saturday. So, Garfield Heights and Normandy will now play their sectional final on Monday, which results in next week's Strongsville District Semifinal being moved to Tuesday at 2 PM. The Strongsville District Final will now be Wednesday at 5 PM.

God be willing, we'll see you at Classic Park on Friday and Baldwin Wallace University on Saturday. 

 
Sectional Final vs. Valley Forge POSTPONED
5/14/2014

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

Today's Division I Sectional Final Baseball Game, matching the top-seeded Wildcats against the 10th-seeded Patriots of Valley Forge at Baldwin Wallace University, has been postponed.

The game has been rescheduled for Thursday at a site to be determined. Weather permitting, Thursday's game will be a 4:30 PM first pitch.

We'll keep you posted. 

The Lions break out the bats and run-rule Saint Ignatius in Eastlake
5/14/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2014

Eastlake, Ohio - The good news is that Saint Ignatius, despite a poor performance against Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin in Tuesday's regular-season match up, is now approaching that part of the season the Wildcats point to all spring - Wednesday's Strongsville Division I sectional/district.

However, what took place on a warm late afternoon and early evening in Classic Park, one of the Wildcats' two "home" fields, left Saint Ignatius Head Coach Brad Ganor, in his own words, "baffled."

The Lions from Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin came out swinging hot aluminum and played their way to an 11-0 lead entering the bottom of the fourth inning, and the eventual 14-4, run-rule victory.

"I'm baffled one day to the next," Coach Ganor said after his team slipped to 16-7. "One day, I don't think we can lose. And then something like this happens and you don't know. It's really pretty amazing. It's my first time of having such a vast experience from one game to the next.

"I don't know what it is," Coach Ganor continued. "If I did, I would put my finger on it. You walk away on Saturday and feel great (an 11-1 victory at Lakewood). It might be one of those years where we have to keep fighting and trying to figure out what buttons to push. Obviously, we're not pushing the right buttons yet. Being 16-7 going into the playoffs is not what we hoped or expected it to be. But it is what it is, and it is my job to figure it out.

"As Mark said, (veteran Assistant Coach Mark Terlep), we'll keep fighting."

Although there is no sugar coating thick enough when it comes to a run-rule loss, Saint Ignatius did not play the Little Sisters of the Poor on Tuesday.

Okay, the baseball rich Lions only stand 9-10 after their impressive performance in Classic Park. However, year in and year out NDCL plays a demanding schedule and its veteran Head Coach, Jim Clark, has two state championships, a state runner-up finish and more than 400 career victories on his resume.

The Lions wasted little time in flashing those credentials under the mix of blue skies and threatening gray clouds that hovered around Lake County on Tuesday.

Coach Clark's club took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a two-run double down the left-field line by catcher Anthony Leonetti and a sacrifice fly to deep right-center field by designated hitter Ryan Falls.

After Aidan Mlachak pitched a strong bottom of the first, NDCL took command with a five-run second inning that saw 11 Lions step in the batter's box. The big blow was a two-out, two-run single to right field by Falls.

Trailing, 11-0, Saint Ignatius got on the board in the bottom of the fourth, only to watch NDCL push its lead to 14-1 with a three-run top of the fifth.

Wildcats senior shortstop David Bodziony drove a three-run, bases-loaded double off the wall in left-center field in the bottom of the fifth, but it was not enough to keep the game going, as the Lions went home with the 10-run mercy rule victory. Bodziony's blast was set up by excellent at-bats by junior center fielder Sam Fuller and senior catcher Pat Gulick.

The official line score on the game showed the Lions with 11 hits and two errors, and the Wildcats with nine hits and three errors. In earning the victory, Mlachak went 4 1/3 innings, yielded seven hits, four runs, four walks and had one strikeout. He threw 80 pitches, 48 of which were strikes.  

NDCL is the second seed at the Jefferson Division II sectional/district and Saint Ignatius is the top seed at the Strongsville Division I sectional/district.

PITCHING IN: While canvassing their North Royalton neighborhood following Monday's violent storms, Saint Ignatius' junior right-handed starting pitcher MJ Nara and his friend, Rick Plant, assisted the North Royalton Police Department in directing traffic on York Road.

AND LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST: A Happy Birthday goes out to Coach Ganor's son, Dominic, who turns 5 on Wednesday. You won't find a five-year-old with more baseball savvy than Dominic.  

Incoming Freshman Baseball Camp
5/13/2014

Incoming Freshmen Baseball Camp
July 29, 30, 31
Baldwin Wallace University
9:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Cost $75

Please make check payable to Saint Ignatius High School and mail to the attention of Brad Ganor no later than July 11, 2014.

Wildcat Baseball ranked 14th in this week's State Poll
5/12/2014

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

Despite going 3-1 last week, the Wildcats (16-6) slipped from eighth to 14th in the lastest Division I state poll by the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association.

Here are the Top 20 teams in Division 1. Note the tie for the 18th spot between Mentor and Lebanon.  

1 Walsh Jesuit                               
2 Lakota West                                
3 Archbishop Moeller                         
4 Springboro                                                
5 Grove City                                                 
6 Hudson                                            
7 Massillon Jackson                                                
8 Olentangy Liberty                               
9 Cincinnati Elder                                                     
10 Perrysburg                                                                 
11 Mason                                                             
12 Thomas Worthington                                
13 St. John's Jesuit                                           
14 Saint Ignatius                                                       
15 St. Edward                                                         
16 Wadsworth                                                          
17 Westerville Central                                     
18 Mentor                                             
18 Lebanon                                                                           
20 Beavercreek

Today's Varsity game is cancelled
5/12/2014

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

Today's varsity baseball game between the Wildcats and the Lions, scheduled for Baldwin Wallace University, has been canceled because of this afternoon's heavy showers.

Up next for the 'Cats is Tuesday's OHSAA Division I sectional final at Classic Park. HOWEVER, if today's sectional semifinal matching Valley Forge and Lincoln-West is postponed, then Saint Ignatius will have to wait until Wednesday to play its sectional final. The Wildcats' opponent in the sectional final is the winner of the Valley Forge-Lincoln West semifinal.

We'll keep you posted. 

Wildcats get the bats going late en route to a win over Lakewood
5/10/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2014

Lakewood, Ohio - Solid pitching from Shane Skuhrovec and a selfless offense that was complimented by some timely defense.

The Saint Ignatius Wildcats put those features on display in First Federal Lakewood Stadium late Saturday morning and the end result was an 11-1 triumph over a Lakewood High School team that has been playing some sound baseball of late.

Coach Brad Ganor's 'Cats, whose main focus is on next week's OHSAA Division I sectional-final play, exuded resiliency, talent and a true team approach in improving to 16-6 and putting together their third run-rule victory in four games this week.

Why resiliency you ask?

Well, the Wildcats, ranked eighth in this week's Division I state poll by the Coaches Association, took the field in Lakewood Stadium less than 24 hours after they experienced a tough, 3-2 loss to the baseball-rich program from Canton Central Catholic on Friday evening in Stark County. Canton Central Catholic was ranked 10th this week in the coaches' Division III state poll.

Ah, but that's the beauty of youth and America's Pastime.

More often than not, you get the opportunity to come right back the next day and redeem yourself.

Coach Ganor's team certainly did that as they erased an early 1-0 lead by the Rangers and handed the co-Champions of the West Shore Conference their 11th loss in 26 games this spring.

"He settled in after that first inning," said Coach Ganor of his good-natured and gifted senior right-hander and outfielder Shane Skuhrovec. "Shane competes. You don't ever have to question whether he's going to compete when he's out there. He threw strikes, made plays and we got some big hits and two-out scoring.

"You sit on a 3-2 loss to a very good team last night and it kind of eats at you," Coach Ganor continued. "But now we can spend the whole weekend thinking about an 11-1 win. That's the beauty of the game."

After Lakewood combined an error, base hits by second baseman Jameson Foran and shortstop Chase Miller, and a fielder's choice into a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, Skuhrovec pitched shut-out ball and the Wildcats went to work offensively.

In his five innings, (the game was called after five because of the 10-run mercy rule), Skuhrovec yielded an unearned run on four hits, struck out two and issued one walk. Shane threw 60 pitches, 41 of which were strikes, and he also had two of Saint Ignatius' 10 hits.

The Wildcats, the top seed for the OHSAA Strongsville Sectional/District, knotted the score in the top of the third inning and settled the issue by scoring five runs in both the fourth and fifth innings.

Following a smooth 5-4-3 double play by Saint Ignatius to end the bottom of the second, standout senior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo led off the top of the third with a double to right-center field.

Multi-skilled junior left fielder Sam Fuller then bunted Longo to third, where the quick and savvy Longo scored after a third strike bounced away from the catcher and the Rangers were forced to throw to first base to complete the second out.

With the score tied and the momentum about to swing back to Lakewood, Fuller came up with the defensive play of the day.

After an error and a walk put Rangers at first and second with no outs in the bottom of the third, Fuller charged a sinking fly ball in left field, made a text-book catch on the run and fired a seed to second base to double off the runner. The Wildcats then ended the inning with a 4-6 putout.

"It feels good, I've been here supporting the team the whole time," said Fuller, who returned to full-time action this week after being sidelined nearly three weeks with a broken left thumb. "It feels good to be back on the field. I love this game, I love to come out here and play and I love to be aggressive and make plays."

And there is no doubt in this seasoned observer's mind that Saint Ignatius is a stronger team when Fuller, a true student of the game, is on the diamond.

After Fuller's defensive gem, emotions were riding high in the Wildcats' dugout and that carried over to the batter's box.

Saint Ignatius took command with a five-run top of the fourth and sent its faithful home early by scoring five more times in the fifth inning.

Skuhrovec got the fourth-inning fireworks started by lining an 0-2 pitch into left field for a base hit. Following a walk to hard-nosed and talented junior catcher Alex Panstares, senior shortstop David Bodziony, the epitome of a team player, laid down a sacrifice bunt.

After energetic and tough-out junior middle infielder Kurt Mantes coaxed a base on balls, Saint Ignatius had the bases loaded with one out. A picture-perfect squeeze bunt by gritty junior second baseman Jake Kucia scored senior pinch runner Ryan Cooper with the go-ahead run.

Logo increased his team's lead to 3-1 by drawing a bases-loaded walk, another pitch in the dirt off a third strike allowed the Wildcats' fourth run to cross the plate and senior first baseman Joe Khoury, one of the most underrated players in Northeast Ohio, made it a 6-1 game by delivering a two-run single to right field.

Skuhrovec needed just 10 pitches in setting down the Rangers in order in the bottom of the fourth. He was supported by a strong defensive play by Bodziony, an effort that saw David go deep in the hole at shortstop and fire an on-the-money throw to Khoury for the first out in the bottom of the fourth.

The Wildcats, who are looking to return to the Division I state championship game at Huntington Park in Columbus, where they finished as a runner-up to Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller last year, left no doubt in the top of the fifth.

Coach Ganor's team sealed the deal on an RBI single through the left side by Mantes, a two-out, two-run triple by Fuller, Sam's second three-bagger in less than 24 hours, and a run-scoring infield hit by Skuhrovec.

"Yes it is," said Coach Ganor, when this old-timer said it is always good to be back at Bunts and Madison, the home of storied Lakewood Stadium. "It's fun for T.J. (Wildcats outstanding pitching coach T.J. Donovan) and I to come here and relive our baseball glory days and our football glory days."

Those Lakewood Stadium glory days for Coach Ganor came as a football and baseball standout at St. Edward High School and Coach Donovan '94 was a football and baseball mainstay for Saint Ignatius.

Up next for the Wildcats is Monday's regular-season match up with Coach Jim Clark's baseball-rich program from Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin. The first pitch from Baldwin Wallace University is 4 PM (note earlier starting time). Senior Captain Nick Fabian will take the mound for Coach Ganor.

*On Tuesday, Coach Ganor's 'Cats begin their OHSAA tournament run in a sectional final at 4:30 PM in Classic Park, the home of the Indians' Class A affiliate, the Lake County Captains. The opponent will be the winner of Monday's sectional semifinal between Valley Forge and Lincoln-West. Standout senior southpaw Nick Margevicius (6-0) is expected to get the starting assignment on Tuesday.

Have a great weekend and to all of the wonderful Mothers out there, have a fantastic Sunday.               

 

Wildcats fall to Canton Central Catholic for second time this season
5/10/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2014

Canton, Ohio - Saint Ignatius Head Baseball Coach Brad Ganor was pleased with the effort his team put forth during Friday night's second trip in nine days to the atmosphere-rich facility at Canton Central Catholic.

"We were ready to play and it was a good baseball game," Coach Ganor said after the Crusaders from Canton Central Catholic rallied to a 3-2 victory and improved to 21-3. "That's a good baseball team. We jumped on them early and they took advantage in the bottom of the third."

Saint Ignatius, which now stands 15-6, rode a one-out triple to deep left field by junior left fielder Sam Fuller, a sharp ground ball off the bat of senior center fielder Nick Fabian that the shortstop couldn't handle and another error to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

Canton Central Catholic, a Division III program that can play with the best Northeast Ohio has to offer in any division, scored three times in the bottom of the third.

Senior right fielder Austin Blackerby, the ninth batter in the Crusaders' order, led off the bottom of the third with a single and sophomore center fielder J.C. Colangelo followed with a picture-perfect bunt between the pitcher's mound and first base that he easily beat out.

Senior shortstop Nathan Shisler then lined an RBI single to right-center field and Canton Central Catholic knotted the score on a sacrifice fly to left field by senior first baseman Shawn Jones. 

The Crusaders, who are ranked 10th in the Coaches Association Division III state poll, combined a stolen base by Shisler, a single to center field by junior left fielder and clean-up hitter Patrick Murphy, a stolen base by Murphy and a fielder's choice off the bat of junior second baseman Drew Savage into the go-ahead run and what turned out to be the final run of the game.

"I thought MJ did a nice job of keeping us in the game and Nick certainly did what we hoped he would do," said Coach Ganor of Wildcats junior starter MJ Nara and senior outfielder/closer Nick Longo, who pitched an authoritative bottom of the sixth that featured two strikeouts.

Nara pitched four and two-thirds innings, yielding three runs and five hits. MJ walked three, struck out one and fired 63 pitches, 34 for strikes.

Canton Central Catholic's crafty junior left-hander Ryan Lindesmith went the distance in improving his record to 5-1. He yielded just one hit, struck out two and walked a batter. Lindesmith threw only 70 pitches in going the seven innings, 42 of which were strikes.

After the first inning, both teams turned in some outstanding defensive plays, including a leaping catch to his left by Saint Ignatius senior shortstop David Bodziony in the bottom of the fifth. David's effort prevented the Crusaders from pushing their advantage to three runs. The highlight-reel play came with two outs and runners on second and third.

"Dave (Bodziony) played great defensively and a couple of those balls, Joe Khoury (Wildcats senior first baseman) and Nick Longo can't hit them any harder," said Coach Ganor of the line drives that were snagged by the leather of Canton Central Catholic.

"When I walked out of here (on May 1), I was sick to my stomach," Coach Ganor continued in reference to the 7-0 loss to the Crusaders. "Tonight, the result is the same, but I feel good about it. Good because the defense played well, we pitched well and we hit hard baseballs right at people. That's baseball."  

Saint Ignatius, which is ranked eighth in Ohio's Division I poll by the Coaches Association, will look to rebound on Saturday morning when it travels to Lakewood Stadium to face the Rangers. The first pitch from Bunts and Madison is 10 AM and senior right-hander Shane Skuhrovec will be on the mound for the 'Cats.

Congratulations from the corner go out to Coach Tim Clark's Junior Varsity Wildcats, who improved to 19-4 with a 3-1, nine-inning victory over Canton Central Catholic's jayvees on Friday night.   

 

Wildcats run-rule North Ridgeville, Margevicius on fire once again
5/9/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2014

Berea, Ohio - After his Wildcats scored 16 runs on 16 hits in Thursday evening's 16-6 victory over North Ridgeville, a game that was called after the top of the fifth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule, Saint Ignatius Head Baseball Coach Brad Ganor wanted to make a reference to the previous two days.

"That was impressive, that was impressive," Coach Ganor said after he watched his Wildcats send 16 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first inning en route to a 10-0 lead on the baseball rich diamond at Baldwin Wallace University, and settle the issue with a six-run bottom of the fourth that saw 10 'Cats take their cuts.

"I would like to make note that today's offensive display is a direct correlation to the fact that we were able to practice for two days on a baseball field (instead of in Sullivan Gymnasium or an indoor facility)," said Coach Ganor of the opportunity to utilize the home of Coach Brian Harrison's Baldwin Wallace University Yellow Jackets on Tuesday and Wednesday. Like Coach Ganor, Coach Harrison is former baseball mainstay for the Eagles of St. Edward, young men this old-timer had the privilege to cover and report on during my many years at The Plain Dealer.  

"We did a lot of different offensive things (during practice) that I think were evident based on our swings today," Coach Ganor continued. "It just goes to show you that when we have a chance to really work the kids, they can produce."

Saint Ignatius, Ohio's eighth-ranked Division I team by the Baseball Coaches Association, wasted little time in again making itself at home at Baldwin Wallace University.

After standout senior southpaw Nick Margevicius sandwiched three strikeouts around a single up the middle by North Ridgeville senior third baseman Matt Feierabend in the top of the first, it was Katy Bar The Door for the Rangers' pitching staff.

Senior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo led off the bottom of the first by going with the pitch and depositing the ball into center field for a base hit. A walk to baseball savvy junior outfielder Sam Fuller and a single to left field by gifted senior center fielder Nick Fabian produced the first run in what would become a stunning inning for North Ridgeville and its faithful.

Before the Wildcats were done, they nearly batted around twice in taking the commanding 10-0, first-inning lead.

Among the other big blows in the bottom of the first were a two-run double to deep left field by steady senior first baseman Joe Khoury, a one-out, line-drive single to center field by senior catcher Pat Gulick that delivered the 'Cats' fourth run, an authoritative single to right field by senior infielder/relief pitcher David Bodziony, a two-run double by Longo, RBI infield singles by Fuller and Fabian and run-scoring singles by senior left fielder Shane Skuhrovec and Gulick.

Margevicius started and went three impressive innings that saw him yield two hits, no runs, no walks and strike out eight. Nick, who is now 6-0 on the season and 15-1 over last season and this spring combined, had 39 strikes in the 53 pitches he threw.

North Ridgeville, which slipped to 8-13 on the season, took advantage of five errors, two hits and a sacrifice fly in scoring six unearned runs in the top of the fourth.

Saint Ignatius' offense would erupt again, however, as the now 15-5 Wildcats settled the issue by sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring six more runs in the bottom of the fourth.

Providing the damage in the bottom of the fourth were junior infielders Kurt Mantes and Mullen Socha, who each had RBI singles, senior Bennett Kinzel, aka Mr. Reliable, with a run-scoring single, and Skuhrovec, who had a two-out, two-run single to right field. Kinzel alertly scored Saint Ignatius' 16th run off an errant relay throw.  

Bodziony then slammed the door in the top of the fifth, ending the game with consecutive strikeouts.

"It was a good opportunity to feel confident at the plate," Coach Ganor said. "When Marg (Margevicius) pitches, everybody feels good. And David (Bodziony) was throwing strikes. That's what it is all about, playing your best baseball at the right time. And that's on Tuesday (versus either Valley Forge or Lincoln-West in a sectional final at Classic Park). That's all that matters right now."

Thursday night's triumph over North Ridgeville was the second run-rule victory this week by Saint Ignatius. The Wildcats defeated the Garfield Heights Bulldogs, 11-1, on Monday at Baldwin Wallace University.

Up next for Coach Ganor's club is Friday's second trip to Canton Central Catholic within nine days. The Crusaders, ranked 10th in the coaches' Division III state poll, defeated the visiting Wildcats, 7-0, on May 1.

Junior right-hander MJ Nara will be on the mound for the 5 PM first pitch.  

Coach Ganor's 'Cats ranked eighth this week