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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
5/7/2014

By Eddie Dwyer

The 14-5 Wildcats are in the eighth spot in this week's Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association's Division I state poll.

Here are the top 10 Division I teams. Archbishop Moeller and Lakota West are tied for second place.

1. Walsh Jesuit                               
2. Lakota West                             
2. Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller                      
4. Springboro                                          
5. Thomas Worthington                                 
6. Perrysburg                                                         
7. Hudson                                     
8. Saint Ignatius                                                        
9. Wadsworth                                          
10. Toledo St John's Jesuit

Wildcats run rule the Bulldogs at Baldwin-Wallace as Nick Fabian shines again
5/5/2014

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

In what was a team effort, the Wildcats improved to 14-5 at the baseball-rich facility on the campus of Baldwin Wallace University.

The game was called in the fifth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule.

Saint Ignatius senior right-hander Nick Fabian turned in five strong innings on the mound, as he yielded one run on three hits, struck out six and did not issue a walk. Nick threw 71 pitches, 53 of which were strikes.

A West Virginia recruit, Fabian helped his cause with a two-run single in the Wildcats’ five-run first inning. Versatile senior Bennett Kinzel and junior infielder Kurt Mantes also provided RBIs in the bottom of the first.

Saint Ignatius, which earned the top seed for the Strongsville Division I sectional/district (see the corner’s post from Sunday), pushed its lead to 7-1 in the bottom of the fourth after the Bulldogs from Garfield Heights scored their run in the top of the fourth.

With gifted sophomore George Asadorian coming up with his first varsity hit in a pinch-hitting role, and first varsity run batted in, Coach Brad Ganor’s team settled the issue with a four-run bottom
of the fifth.

Asadorian's single to right scored Kinzel and George would eventually come home with the game’s final run off a wild pitch.

Asadorian was promoted to the varsity team on Monday.

Saint Ignatius out hit Garfield Heights, 7-3. The Bulldogs are now 6-5.

*The corner would like to send out a Thank You to the best Student Manager in the state, Kyle Kostura, and the man with the instant statistics, the quite, but savvy Marco Valletta, for their assistance in this report. This old-timer had a can’t-miss doctor’s appointment on Monday.  

 

Saint Ignatius earns top seed in Strongsville District
5/4/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2014

Brooklyn, Ohio - Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats (13-5) will be the top seed for the OHSAA Strongsville Division I sectional/district baseball tournament, with the Strongsville Mustangs earning the second seed.

Saint Ignatius drew a first-round sectional bye.

The 'Cats will begin their postseason run in a sectional final on May 13 at Classic Park, where they will face the winner of the Lincoln-West versus Valley Forge sectional semifinal at 4:30. Lincoln-West and Valley Forge play on May 12.

If successful on May 13, Saint Ignatius will advance to district play at Strongsville High School. The Strongsville District will take place on May 19th and 20th.

As always, OHSAA postseason play takes precedence over any regular season game. If a tournament game is rained out, it will be rescheduled for the next day.      

Wildcats get back on the winning track by defeating the Berea-Midpark Titans
5/3/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2014

Berea, Ohio - Saint Ignatius' gritty and baseball savvy junior catcher Alex Panstares said the Wildcats were ready to "take care of business" at Berea-Midpark High School on Saturday morning.

With senior southpaw Nick Margevicius taking command on the mound from the get-go and his teammates coming up with clutch hits, Saint Ignatius defeated the talented Titans, 9-2, and snapped a two-game losing streak in the process.

While Coach Brad Ganor's 'Cats had several timely at-bats, none was bigger than the one Panstares delivered with two outs in the top of the sixth.

Trailing, 3-0, Berea-Midpark closed to 3-2 on two-out RBI base hits by sophomores Joe Bachie and Jaret Peterson in the bottom of the fifth.

The top of the sixth started with an infield hit by Wildcats sophomore infielder Dennis Grosel. Senior center fielder Nick Fabian moved Grosel to second with a sacrifice bunt and Grosel advanced to third on a wild pitch.

Titans senior second baseman and captain Austin Barnhart then came up with a diving stop of a sharply hit ball off the bat of Saint Ignatius senior first baseman Joe Khoury. Barnhart got to his feet and completed the 4-3 second out, with Grosel remaining at third base.

Wildcats senior left fielder Shane Skuhrovec drew a walk and the 'Cats had runners on second and third with two outs after Coach Ganor's man for all situations, senior Bennett Kinzel, stole second base while running for Skuhrovec.

Up to the plate stepped Panstares and Mr. Momentum was teetering as to which dugout he would rest his fickle fate.

"I think I had a full count there and it was a fastball away," said Panstares, who lined a two-out, two-run line drive single into right-center field, a blow that stretched Saint Ignatius' lead to 5-2. "I just tried to stay on it and hit the ball hard. That's all you can do."

What Panstares did was followed by an authoritative closing act that saw the Wildcats settle the issue with a four-run top of the seventh and seal it on another strong inning of relief by their "Sandman" - senior right fielder/pitcher and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo.

The four-run seventh saw the now 7-8 Titans become a bit unglued with their fielding and featured RBI base hits by Grosel and Khoury.

"The past four games, especially the past two, we've been leaving runners on base," Panstares said. "But when you get one two-out hit, it seems like they all start to fall. You get a little string of them and get some big insurance runs."

As for Saint Ignatius' early offense, the Wildcats rode a leadoff walk to Panstares, a one-out double by junior designated hitter Kurt Mantes, a run-scoring bunt by junior second baseman Mullen Socha and a RBI sacrifice fly by Longo into a 2-0 lead in the top of the second.

With two outs and the bases empty in the top of the fourth, Longo singled to right center and stole second base. Grosel followed with a base on balls and after a double steal and a wild pitch, Coach Ganor's team led, 3-0.

Margevicius was impressive once again, as he went six innings, yielded two runs on seven hits, struck out nine and issued just one walk. In improving his record to 5-0, Nick threw 94 pitches, 69 of which were strikes. He had a seven-pitch, seven-strikes 1-2-3 bottom of the first, which included two of his nine Ks.

"Marg (Margevicius) was throwing hard, his changeup looked good and he worked in the curve ball for strikes," said Panstares.

Coach Ganor's Wildcats will now await the results of Sunday's seeding for the OHSAA Strongsville Division I sectional/district and then will gear up for Monday's scheduled regular season game versus Garfield Heights at Baldwin Wallace University. Senior Nick Fabian, a West Virginia recruit, will take the mound for the 'Cats at 4:30 PM on Monday, providing Mother Nature doesn't throw the area another curve.

Sectional play will begin on May 12-13.

"I'm real proud of Marg (Margevicius)," said Coach Ganor, whose team now stands 13-5. "I told him before the game that we needed him to kind of pick everybody up. He did exactly what we hoped he would do and what we expected him to do. In the sixth, we were going to make the change with him at 80 pitches and he said: 'You want me to put the team on my shoulders, then give me the sixth inning.'

"You can't be discouraged when you have a kid like that who is so competitive and wants to be out there. It rubs off on everybody else, too."

Saint Edward gets revenge on the Wildcats with a five-run first inning to defeat Saint Ignatius
5/3/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2014

Avon, Ohio - Heading into Friday's third match up of the season with St. Edward, Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor had watched his Wildcats yielded 15 first-inning runs in their previous four games combined.

While some fans were still making it to their seats in All Pro Freight Stadium on Friday evening, that number jumped to 20 first-inning runs over five games.

St. Edward, after losing its two previous meetings with the Wildcats this spring, jumped on Saint Ignatius for five runs in the bottom of the first and went on to a 6-2 triumph in what was another chapter in the storied West Side athletic rivalry.

While Coach Ganor said the first-inning woes have definitely been the story in his now 12-5 Wildcats going 2-3 in their last five games, he emphasized that his team "just didn't have it" on Friday evening in the home of the Lake Erie Crushers.

"It's May 2, and when the tournament starts my team will be ready," said Coach Ganor of the OHSAA Strongsville Division I sectional/district, which will begin a week from Monday. The drawing and seeding for the area's postseason tournaments will take place on Sunday.

"They'll be ready," Coach Ganor continued. "I thinks it's important that we'll come back tomorrow (Saturday's10 AM game at Berea-Midpark) and try to get a win before the draw."

On what was St. Edward's "Senior Night," the Eagles ignited their quick start with back-to-back walks to start the bottom of the first. The key run producers out of the gate were an RBI single up the middle by center fielder Kyle Hegedus, which followed the two walks, a one-out, run-scoring sacrifice fly by first baseman Garrett Zorb and a two-out RBI double by catcher Mason DeAnna.

The Eagles also took advantage of two Saint Ignatius errors in the five-run bottom of the first, which were sandwiched around another walk. St. Edward made it a 6-0 game on a two-out, run-scoring triple by left fielder Darien Knowles in the bottom of the fifth.   

Eagles starter Jon Laird blanked the Wildcats over five innings before yielding a one-out, two-run single to 'Cats' junior shortstop Jake Kucia in the top of the sixth. Kucia's line drive to right field was preceded by a hit batsman, another authoritative hit by senior first baseman Joe Khoury and a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by junior catcher Alex Panstares. 

Laird prevented further damage by ending the top of the sixth with two strikeouts and St. Edward reliever Jaret Edwards came on in the top of the seventh and sealed the victory with a 1-2-3 effort.

In his six innings of work, Laird yielded two earned runs on seven hits, struck out four and walked one. He threw 97 pitches, 57 of which were strikes.

According to their coaching staff, the Eagles are now 11-4. St. Edward's staff wasn't sure what Laird's record stands at after his solid performance on Friday evening, but no matter what it is, the young man can flat out pitch.   

It wouldn't be a Wildcats-Eagles encounter without a questionable play, and that came in the top of the fifth with two outs and Saint Ignatius runners on first and second.

Wildcats gifted center fielder and West Virginia recruit Nick Fabian singled to left and Saint Ignatius senior third baseman David Bodziony, despite a strong throw to the plate, appeared to elude the tag of DeAnna. The home plate umpire saw it otherwise and emphatically called Bodziony out.

"It wasn't the difference in the game," Coach Ganor said of the call at home plate.  

The Wildcats, who out hit the Eagles, 7-4, got a strong effort in relief from senior left fielder/pitcher Shane Skuhrovec. Shane came on in the second inning and worked four innings, yielding two hits, a run and striking out three. Thirty-two of Shane's 49 pitches were strikes.

Skuhrovec returned to left field in the bottom of the sixth and made an outstanding running catch deep in foul territory along the left-field line. Shane crashed into the fence along the left-field line, but after being attended to by Saint Ignatius' outstanding Head Athletic Trainer Hank Gaughan ATC, he was back on his feet and ready for more.

The Wildcats will turn to standout senior southpaw Nick Margevicius (4-0), as they look to snap a two-game losing streak on Saturday at Berea-Midpark. Again, the first pitch from 165 E. Bagley Road in Berea will be 10 AM.     

Crusaders too much to handle for the Wildcats in their trip to Canton
5/2/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2014

Canton, Ohio - Just seconds after Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor addressed his team following the Wildcats' 7-0 loss at Canton Central Catholic on Thursday evening, he looked this corner straight in the eye and said: "He dominated us, there is nothing else you can say about it."

"He" is Crusaders' sophomore right-hander Jake Vance, who now carries an impressive 6-0 record after blanking the usually tough-out Wildcats under a fall-like, blue-gray sky that hovered over Canton Central Catholic's baseball-rich facility.

Pitching with poise and displaying a command of the strike zone with his fastball and slider, Vance limited the Wildcats to three singles, struck out four and yielded just one base on balls. Displaying a quick-working motion with his 6-foot-2 frame, Vance threw 81 pitches in going the distance, 55 of which were strikes.

"It was a complete domination on the mound, a complete domination defensively and they dominated our pitching," Coach Ganor said after his team slipped to 12-4 and Coach Doug Miller's Crusaders improved to 16-2.

Canton Central Catholic, ranked 14th in this week's Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association's Division III state poll, took a 3-0 lead after shutting down Saint Ignatius' offense in the top of the first inning. The top of the first saw Crusaders' senior catcher Connor Compton haul in a pop fly behind the plate and alertly fire the ball to first base to double off the runner, who was running on the pitch.

Coach Miller's Crusaders sent eight batters to the plate in taking their 3-0, first-inning lead. With one out and the bases empty, senior shortstop Nathan Shisler drew a walk and senior third baseman Shawn Jones followed with a sinking line-drive double the opposite way to left field.

After a wild pitch off a ball four to junior left fielder Patrick Murphy resulted in the game's first run, junior second baseman Drew Savage and Compton followed with RBI singles. Saint Ignatius has now yielded 11 first-inning runs in its past three games combined.

An error, a sacrifice bunt by sophomore leadoff hitter and center fielder J.C. Colangelo and a run-scoring, line-drive single to left-center field by Shisler made it a 4-0 game in the bottom of the second. The Crusaders pushed their lead to 5-0 on two walks, a wild pitch and a one-out, help-your-cause RBI single to right field by Vance in the bottom of the fifth.

Thanks to some strong work out of the bullpen by Saint Ignatius senior right-hander Bennett Kinzel it remained a five-run deficit until the bottom of the sixth, when a one-out walk to Shisler, a two-out balk, a single by Murphy, a throwing error, some heads up base running and an RBI single to right-center by Savage produced the game's final two runs.

"This was one of the worst losses I've seen in my history at Saint Ignatius," said Coach Ganor, who is currently in his 10th season as the Wildcats' head coach after serving as an assistant on the staff for six years. "We're concerned about some of our defense, some of our situational hitting and things like that. It's regroup time for me as a coach and as a coaching staff.

"It barley looked like we even showed up," Coach Ganor continued. "At Saint Ignatius, that doesn't happen, shouldn't happen. You can't be just motivated to play St. Edward. You have to play consistent baseball. To be a tournament-ready team you have to be consistent. And right now, we're not a consistent baseball team, in all facets of the game."

The Wildcats, ranked sixth in the coaches' Division I state poll, will face St. Edward for the third time this season when the storied West Side rivals meet in All-Pro Freight Stadium on Friday at 5 PM. Junior right-hander MJ Nara will be on the mound for Saint Ignatius. Coach Ganor's 'Cats are 2-0 versus St. Edward this spring.

NOTE: No offense to the voting coaches, but some one is going to have to prove to this old-timer that there are 13 Division III teams in Ohio better than Canton Central Catholic. Coach Miller, one of the game's true class acts, has comfortably over 600 career victories and has guided his Crusaders to two state championships (2008 and 2011), two state-runner-up finishes (2003 and 1997) and another state final four appearance in 2006. Now in his 33rd season with the game he loves and the profession he cherishes, Coach Miller came up with victory No. 1 in 1982, the second game of a doubleheader versus Louisville.

"Coach Miller's the best, he's a legend," said Coach Ganor, who has led his Wildcats to four state final fours, including two state runner-up finishes in 2008 and 2013, and a Saint Ignatius record three consecutive final fours in 2007, '08 and '09. "I have the utmost respect for him because his teams, every time we come down here, they're always ready to play."

Saint Ignatius will be making a return trip to Canton Central Catholic on May 9. The first pitch is scheduled for 5 P.M.

Today's Varsity and Freshman games are cancelled.
4/30/2014

Today's Varsity game versus Massillon Washington has been rained out. The game was scheduled yesterday by Head Coach Brad Ganor. It is the second time in two days that Wildcat Baseball has been been defeated.

Along with Varsity, Freshman Baseball has been rained out for the second time in two days. They were scheduled to take on Saint Edward on their home field, but the rain got the best of the 'Cats and Eagles. The Freshmen have yet to play Saint Edward as their game back in early April was postponed due to snow. They wait another day.

Today's Varsity game is cancelled; scheduling changes
4/29/2014

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

As expected, today's varsity baseball game at Olmsted Falls went down on strikes to Mother Nature.

Please note that Thursday's game at Baldwin Wallace University will feature a different opponent - Canton Central Catholic. The 'Cats were originally scheduled to face Tallmadge on Thursday at BW, but the Blue Devils have a league game that they must make up. The first pitch versus Canton Central Catholic is slated for 5 PM.

Also note that Saturday's game versus Berea-Midpark at Baldwin Wallace University will begin at 10 AM. It is prom weekend for the Titans, thus the early start.

   

Wildcat Baseball sixth in OHSBCA State Poll
4/28/2014

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

The 12-3 Saint Ignatius varsity baseball team is sixth in the latest Division I rankings by the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association.

Defending Division I state champion Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller is ranked No. 1 this week followed by Walsh Jesuit, Lakota West, Springboro, Mason, Saint Ignatius, Perrysburg and Cincinnati Elder (has defeated Moeller twice this season).

Mentor, Cincinnati Anderson and Hudson are tied for the ninth spot.

Skuhrovec's walk-off single lifts the Wildcats over Saint Xavier in Ohio Jesuit Tournament
4/27/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2014

Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio - Moments after producing the winning hit in Sunday's dramatic 6-5, 10-inning victory over Cincinnati St. Xavier at the annual Ohio Jesuit Tournament, Saint Ignatius senior left fielder Shane Skuhrovec spoke in terms of "we" and "the team."

"It was great, we competed and played really well," Skuhrovec said. "We just stayed in the game and did our thing, that's all that matters."

After he and his teammates battled St. Xavier for more than three hours and overcame deficits of 2-0 and 5-2, Skuhrovec stayed with a curveball and drove it into right field for the walk-off base hit with runners on first and second and two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Skuhrovec's winning blow, which came off an 0-2 count, enabled Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats to improve to 12-3 and finish 1-1 in the Ohio Jesuit Tournament. Ranked fifth in this past week's Division I state poll by the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association, Saint Ignatius rebounded from Saturday's 8-4 loss to Toledo St. John's Jesuit in the opening round of the OJT.

"Everybody just has to stay in the game, even if it is in the dugout clapping and supporting the team," Skuhrovec said of what Saint Ignatius has to continue to do in order to achieve its goal of returning to the big-school state final four in Columbus. Last season the 'Cats finished as Ohio's Division I runner-up to Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller.

"When we stay in the game and play as a team, it's just great, just great," Skuhrovec continued.

As was the case in Saturday's loss to St. John's Jesuit, the Wildcats found themselves trailing early against a Bombers team that is now 9-7 after going 0-2 in the OJT.  

St. Xavier, taking advantage of a leadoff single by Chris Daugherty, two stolen bases sandwiched around a walk to Jordan McDonough, a throwing error and sacrifice fly Corey Huber, took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

Saint Ignatius answered immediately, however, as the 'Cats tied the score in the bottom half of the first.

A leadoff double by senior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo, an error and a run-scoring double off the fence in left field by Skuhrovec made it a 2-1 game, and Saint Ignatius knotted the score at 2 on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by junior catcher Alex Panstares.

The Bombers, who also have a spirited football rivalry with the Wildcats, moved to a 3-2 lead in the top of the fourth courtesy of a one-out single by Nate Winning, a two-out walk to Spencer Helwig and a throwing error.

St. Xavier continued to build on its momentum by increasing its lead to 5-2 in the top of the fifth. McDonough led off the Bombers' two-run fifth by taking a 3-0 pitch deep over the fence in left field.

"I questioned them a little bit in the middle of the game, if they had the heart to play seven innings," Coach Ganor said of his Wildcats. "They just totally erased it (the question) by doing a great job of coming back. You didn't see anybody panicking on the bench and I think that's a testament to some veteran leadership and guys willing to come off the bench and do whatever it takes."

Saint Ignatius not only had the heart to play the traditional seven inning high school game, but three more innings of free baseball.

The Wildcats, behind clutch pinch hits by senior middle infielders Quillan Austria and David Bodziony that included an RBI by Bodziony, a run-scoring single by sophomore third baseman Dennis Grosel and a sacrifice bunt by junior second baseman Mullen Socha that sent senior pinch runner Ryan Cooper sliding into home plate, tied the score in the bottom of the sixth.

Thanks to the strong work out of the respective bullpens by Wildcats junior right-hander Jacob Bangert and Bombers' lefty Nick Tensing, and an exceptional defensive play by Saint Ignatius in the top of the ninth, it remained a 5-5 game entering the 10th inning.

The Wildcats' defensive gem came with one out and St. Xavier base runners on first and second in the top of the ninth, a play that saw the gifted Longo haul in a fly ball and throw behind the runner at second base. Junior shortstop Jake Kucia hauled in the seed from Longo and tagged out the runner, who was caught off guard by Longo's powerful and accurate throw and had strayed too far from second base. Jake applied the tag as the runner was attempting to dive back into second base. Longo's throw was described by Coach Ganor as "huge."

Following another clutch inning by Bangert in the top of the 10th, an inning that saw Socha make an exceptional 4-3 out off a sharp grounder behind second base and haul in a pop up with runners on first and second and two outs, the stage was set for Skuhrovec's difference maker.  

And then Shane rode off into the sun that shined brightly on the diamond at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy.

As for Bangert, his first victory on the varsity level included four shutout innings. He yielded three hits and threw 59 pitches, 33 of which were strikes.

"For a kid that was on the junior varsity earlier in the season, he has shown a lot of moxie the last few weeks,"  Coach Ganor said of Bangert. "He's deserving of the innings he is getting, that's for sure."

Although the weather forecast looks shaky right now, Saint Ignatius is scheduled to take on the Olmsted Falls Bulldogs Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 in the Falls. If the game is played, junior right-hander Luke Diggs will take the mound for the 'Cats.  

Titans bats get hot, defeat Wildcats in game 1 of Ohio Jesuit Tournament
4/27/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2014

From Walsh Jesuit High School - As Saint Ignatius' veteran head baseball coach Brad Ganor said after his Wildcats were defeated by Toledo St. John's Jesuit, 8-4, during Saturday's first round of the annual Ohio Jesuit Tournament, you can't spot a good team six runs.

And the 2014 Titans are a solid team.

Playing with emotion from the get-go, St. John's Jesuit scored six runs on six hits in the top of the first inning and had the Wildcats battling up hill from that point on.

Saint Ignatius, the fifth-ranked team in the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Division I state poll, responded with two runs in the bottom of the first and closed to 6-4 with single runs in the third and fifth innings. A one-out, two-run single by junior catcher Alex Panstares with the bases loaded highlighted the 'Cats' bottom of the first.   

The afternoon belonged to the Titans, however, as they regained control on a one-out double down the left field line by catcher Mike Barrett in the top of the seventh and an ensuing two-run home run by designated hitter Sam McClurg that sailed over the fence in left-center field with authority.

St. John's Jesuit also got some crafty work out of its bullpen from right-hander Nolan Silberhorn, who put out the fire after the Wildcats closed to 6-4 on a home run by junior shortstop Kurt Mantes leading off the bottom of the fifth.

Mantes' no-doubter came off the 96th pitch thrown by Titans starting left-hander Collin Korte. Korte would end up going 4 1/3 innings, yielding six hits, four runs, striking out five and walking five. His total pitch count was 107, 63 of which were strikes.

After Wildcats senior second baseman David Bodziony followed Mantes' blast with a double to the gap in right-center field and advanced to third on a fielder's choice, Silberhorn replaced Korte.

Behind a tight curveball and a teasing of the strike zone, Silberhorn coaxed a 6-3 groundout that kept Bodziony on third base and ended the fifth inning with a strikeout.

Described by Saint Ignatius' savvy assistant coach Josh Bieneman as being effectively wild, Silberhorn seemed to know exactly what he was doing while battling a strike zone that he realized was a bit inconsistent. In earning the save, Silberhorn went 2 2/3 innings, yielding two hits, striking out three and walking one. He threw 37 pitches, 23 for strikes.

Coach Ganor's Wildcats would make things interesting in the bottom of the seventh after Silberhorn started the inning with a strikeout.

Mantes drew a walk and senior designated hitter Kyle Daugenti singled to left center. However, following a force at second base that put runners at first and third with two outs, Silberhorn ended the game with his third strikeout.

"We showed fight, but fell a little bit short," said Coach Ganor. "Sometimes you just don't have your good stuff and you get beat. It's a process, and as long as we're getting better, learning from our mistakes and realizing what we need to do differently, come playoff time this really will mean nothing.

"If it's the sectional, district or regional tournament right now, this is a hard one to take," Coach Ganor continued. "But it's not, so we'll learn from it and move forward."

As for St. John's Jesuit's six-run burst in the top of the first, the key blows were a single to right field by second baseman Ethan Kirkman, an RBI single by Barrett and two-run singles by McClurg and left fielder John Freisner. McClurg's two-run single came off an 0-2 count.

The Titans, who outhit the Wildcats, 12-8, will take a 9-1 record into Sunday's championship game of the Ohio Jesuit Tournament. They will face the nationally ranked 12-0 Warriors from Walsh Jesuit on the Warriors' home field at 11 AM.

Walsh Jesuit advanced to the championship game by run-ruling Cincinnati St. Xavier, 12-2. The Warriors erased a 1-0 deficit with a three-run bottom of the second and broke the game open with a seven-run fourth inning.

Saint Ignatius, coming off its impressive Easter Break trip to Maryland, lost for the third time in 14 games this spring. The Wildcats will send standout senior southpaw Nick Margevicius (4-0) to the mound on Sunday, as they play St. Xavier for third place in the OJT. The first pitch is slated for 11 AM.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE SAINT IGNATIUS-ST. XAVIER GAME WILL BE PLAYED AT CUYAHOGA VALLEY CHRISTIAN ACADEMY, WHICH IS LOCATED ALMOST ACROSS THE STREET FROM WALSH JESUIT ON WYOGA LAKE ROAD IN CUYAHOGA FALLS.

Junior Varsity versus Saint Edward cancelled
4/25/2014

The Junior Varsity Baseball game versus Saint Edward at All Pro Freight Stadium has been cancelled due to the rain. No make up date announced yet. 

Saint Ignatius Baseball ranked fifth in OHSBCA State Poll this week
4/25/2014

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

Here are the sweet six Division I teams in this week's state poll by the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association. For a look at all 20 teams ranked, go to the OHSBCA site.

1. Mason (9-1)     
2. Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (10-2)    
3. Walsh Jesuit (10-0, ranked 26th in the nation by USA Today)     
4. Lakota West (11-2)    
5. Saint Ignatius (11-2)     
6. Cincinnati Elder (9-4, has handed Moeller both of its losses).

*JUST A REMINDER THAT COACH BRAD GANOR'S VARSITY BASEBALL WILDCATS, COMING OFF THEIR IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCE IN MARLYAND, WILL FACE TOLEDO ST. JOHN'S JESUIT ON SATURDAY AT 4 PM IN THE ANNUAL JESUIT TOURNAMENT AT WALSH JESUIT. IF SUCCESSFUL, THE 'CATS WILL TAKE ON THE WINNER OF SATURDAY'S WALSH JESUIT VERSUS CINCINNATI ST. XAVIER MATCH UP IN SUNDAY'S 11 AM CHAMPIONSHIP GAME.

NOTE: THE TITANS FROM ST. JOHN'S JESUIT TOOK A 6-1 RECORD INTO FRIDAY'S GAME AT FREMONT ROSS. AMONG THE TITANS TO WATCH ARE SENIOR CATCHER MIKE BARRETT AND JUNIOR SHORTSTOP DEVON GARCIA.

*The Warriors from Walsh Jesuit feature two Ohio State recruits in senior Nate Romans and junior Ryan Feltner, and a Missouri recruit in junior left-hander Ty Shoaff.

*St. Xavier stood 9-5 after sweeping a doubleheader from the Salem (Mich.) Rocks, 11-4 and 5-2, on Thursday.   
            

Bats come alive for the Wildcats as they defeat the Friars to finish their road trip
4/24/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2014

Baltimore, Maryland - When you play for one of the deepest teams in Ohio in terms of talent and versatility, you have to be ready when called on.

And you have to produce.

No one understands that better than Saint Ignatius High School's talented junior middle infielder/outfielder Mullen Socha, who walked off the campus of Archbishop Curley High School on Wednesday evening having produced one of the finest all-around games in the Wildcats' young 2014 baseball season.

"It's definitely tough sometimes, because there are some stretches that you go without seeing a live pitch for about a week," Socha said after his five runs batted in led the Wildcats to a 13-8 victory over Archbishop Curley in what was the 'Cats' final game of their Maryland Easter Break trip. "It's tough to adjust to that, but you just have to be mentally prepared every day that you're going to get a chance to make a play. You just have to be ready and make the most of your opportunities when you get them."

As perennial Maryland power Archbishop Curley will be the first to tell you, Socha made the most of every second and minute he was on the Friars' field.

With his team trailing, 8-5, Socha delivered a two-out, two-run single off Archbishop Curley's knuckleball reliever Mike Scarbath in the top of the fifth inning and Saint Ignatius was on fire, emotionally and physically.

After the Wildcats loaded the bases in the top of the sixth without the benefit of a hit, junior pinch hitter Dylan Welch knotted the score at 8 by beating out a chopper to the right side with two outs. Socha then capped the four-run sixth with a three-run, bases-loaded double to deep left field. The authoritative two-bagger by Socha came off the Friars' left-handed reliever Dunnie Kerrigan.

"I'm not really used to seeing that type of pitcher (a knuckleballer)," Socha said of his first clutch hit in the fifth. "It was the first pitch of the at-bat and he kind of left the knuckleball up a little bit in the zone. I jumped on it and I rolled over a bit, but I hit it hard enough to get it through (the infield). I was happy with that at-bat.

'It was a 2-2 count," Socha continued in reference to his huge three-run double in the sixth. "It was a fastball inside, but he left it over the plate too much. I just put a good swing on it."

It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing and Socha, an Independence resident, had the Wildcats' faithful ready to dance in the streets of Baltimore on Wednesday night.

"He gets the opportunity and he made the most of it," said Saint Ignatius head coach Brad Ganor of Socha's heroics. "He did a great job. Offensively, we don't panic. I think that is a testament to our depth and resiliency. When we don't have our best starting pitching day, the offense picks them up."   

After the young, but oh so promising Socha gave his team an 11-8 lead, four of Coach Ganor's wily veterans - senior center fielder Nick Fabian, senior left fielder Shane Skuhrovec, senior second baseman David Bodziony and senior right fielder Nick Longo put the finishing touches on a victory that gave one of Maryland's best a taste of what Ohio Ball is all about.

Base hits by Fabian and Skuhrovec, along with a pinch-hit RBI single from Bodziony, helped give the Wildcats two insurance runs in the top of the seventh.

Fabian pitched two perfect innings of relief (the fifth and sixth) in earning the victory and is now 3-0 on the season. Nick threw 18 pitches, 12 of which were strikes.

Longo, who plays with endless passion, fired three consecutive strikeouts in slamming the door in the bottom of the seventh and also helped fuel Saint Ignatius' offense with two leadoff doubles.

Junior shortstop Jake Kucia played another solid game defensively, as did Socha at second base, sophomore third baseman Dennis Grosel and senior catcher Pat Gulick. On what was a perfect throw, Gulick picked off a runner at first base in the bottom of the second and Grosel made a smooth stop of a wicked grounder at the hot corner and started an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play after Bishop Curley had taken a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the third.   

Along with his glove work, Kucia drew a roar from the Wildcats' fans in the top of the third when he drove the ball deep over the fence in left field for a two-run home run that at the time put Saint Ignatius in front, 5-4.

The Friars pushed their lead to 8-5 by scoring two runs in the bottom of the fourth on a two-out, two-run single through the left side by third baseman Marty Costes. Archbishop Curley's other big blow of the game came in the bottom of the first when clean-up hitter Christian Hamel belted a grand slam that staked the Friars to a 4-1 advantage.

Coach Ganor's club wrapped up its Easter Break trip by going 2-1 and is now 11-2 on the season. Up next is this weekend's annual Jesuit Tournament at Walsh Jesuit High School. Saint Ignatius faces Toledo St. John's Jesuit in Saturday's first round at 4 PM.

"All in all, I thought it was a very productive trip," Coach Ganor said after his Wildcats handed Archbishop Curley its seventh loss in 19 games this spring. "It's always good to take two out of three. I think that's every coaches hope when you play a three-game series."

*A huge congratulations goes out to Saint Ignatius' savvy assistant coach Josh Bieneman as he and his wife Heather welcomed their second child, Brooks, into the world this week. Brooks and mom are both doing fine. Coach Bieneman grew up in Baltimore, so it comes as no surprise that Brooks is named after the legendary Mr. Oriole, Brooks Robinson.   

Wildcats prevent Riverdale Baptist from making history by Margevicius' dominant start
4/23/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2014

Marlboro, Maryland - Saint Ignatius head coach Brad Ganor and Wildcats gifted senior first baseman Joe Khoury shared the same sentiment after the 'Cats defeated Riverdale Baptist, 10-2, on the Crusaders' Terrill Field Tuesday afternoon - that the players who make up the 2014 Saint Ignatius varsity baseball team are very resilient.

The Wildcats, coming off a tough one-run loss at Calvert Hall on Monday night (see the corner's story from Monday), didn't dwell on it. Instead, they got a good night's rest and then went out and took care of business against another highly regarded team from Maryland.     

Leading, 3-0, Saint Ignatius sent 11 batters to the plate in the top of the sixth inning and left the faithful from Riverdale Baptist both surprised and impressed by scoring seven more runs on five hits.

An RBI double by senior designated hitter Kyle Daugenti, a two-run double by senior center fielder Nick Fabian and a towering three-run home run by Koury that sailed over the fence in left-center field and landed on the Crusaders' softball diamond did most of the damage in the take command sixth inning.

After sophomore third baseman Dennis Grosel, who led off the sixth by beating out a sharp grounder for an infield hit, sent a sacrifice fly to deep left field, the Wildcats led, 10-0.   

In improving to 10-2, Saint Ignatius prevented Riverdale Baptist's legendary head coach Terry Terrill from celebrating his 1,000th career victory. The eight-time Maryland State Private School Champions slipped to 15-4.

Before his team settled the issue in the sixth inning, Coach Ganor watched the Wildcats take a 2-0 lead in the top of the third. Daugenti, the pride of St. Thomas More, led off the third with a walk, senior right fielder Nick Longo singled to right field and senior pinch runner Ryan Cooper scored on a single by Fabian. After senior left fielder Shane Skuhrovec moved the runners over on a ground ball to the right side, Longo, a Miami of Ohio recruit, came racing home on a fielder's choice.

Base hits by Khoury, Grosel and gritty junior shortstop Jake Kucia, combined with an error by the Crusaders' outfield, made it a 3-0 game in the top of the fourth and Saint Ignatius had plenty of firepower left down the stretch.

Khoury, who abused a fastball in delivering his impressive round tripper in the sixth, said it was the "unselfish at bats" by his teammates that set everything up.

Along with a bat that produced a 3-for-5 day with four runs batted in, Khoury turned in yet another smooth and solid performance at first base, including a pick of a sharp liner that he turned into an unassisted double play.

Fabian, a West Virginia recruit who is blessed with multiple skills, had three hits in four at-bats and drove in three runs.

Most of Tuesday's game was played in a light, but steady rain before the sun made a return engagement in the seventh inning.

When he wasn't watching Saint Ignatius' offense produce its 10 runs on 14 hits, Wildcats standout senior southpaw Nick Margevicius was riding a more than capable fastball to another solid start.

"Nick Margevicius did exactly what we expect him to do when we hand him the ball," said Coach Ganor after Margevicius worked 5 and 2/3 innings, yielded one run on six hits, struck out six and did not walk a batter.

Now 4-0 on the season and 13-1 in his last 14 varsity starts, Margevicius, a Ryder University recruit, threw 73 pitches on Tuesday. Fifty three of those deliveries were strikes.

The Wildcats will play the final game of their Easter Break trip to Maryland when they face Baltimore power Archbishop Curley on Wednesday at 4:15 P.M. Junior right-hander Luke Diggs has received the starting call from Coach Ganor.

ON HAND FOR SOME HISTORY!: The Saint Ignatius baseball team, Coach Ganor, his veteran assistant coach Mark Terlep, the players' families and this old-timer were at Nationals Park on Tuesday night for the Nationals-Angels Major League Baseball game. We witnessed an historical accomplishment as future Hall of Fame inductee Albert Pujols belted his 499th and 500th career home runs in leading the Angels to victory.              

M.J. Nara's dominance not enough, Wildcats fall by a walk-off by Calvert Hall
4/22/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2014

Towson, Maryland - Monday night on McManus Field in Calvert Hall's Carlo Crispino Stadium - Before Saint Ignatius began its Easter Break trip with a game against one of Maryland's top baseball programs - the Calvert Hall Cardinals - Wildcats head coach Brad Ganor told his gifted junior right-hander MJ Nara that the Calvert Hall game was a confidence builder. Not for MJ, but for Coach Ganor.

"I told him this is what I wanted to see him pitch against," said Coach Ganor, referring to a Calvert Hall program that has won 27 MSA and MIAA Baseball Championships, including eight since 2000. "I said, I want to give you the ball and say you are the guy. He said, 'OK, I'll do it.' And he went out there, and he did it."

Saint Ignatius, with Nara handcuffing a Calvert Hall offense that usually has its way in the Cardinals' baseball-rich Carlo Crispino Stadium, appeared to be on its way to a victory of national prominence before the perennial Maryland power tied the score off an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth inning and came away with the victory when Cardinals junior shortstop Alex Kriss, the ninth batter in Coach Lou Eckerl's order, produced a two-out, walk-off base hit in the bottom of the seventh.

Saint Ignatius, which experienced only its second loss in 11 games this spring, rode a one-out RBI single by sophomore third baseman Dennis Grosel to a 1-0 lead in top of the second inning.

It stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth, when Calvert Hall, with two outs and the bases empty, tied the score on a throwing error, two stolen bases by senior center fielder Troy Stokes and another throwing error that sailed into left field and allowed Stokes to race home with the tying run. Stokes had five stolen bases on the night.

Nara was near flawless as he pitched 6 1/3 innings, yielding one hit, two runs (one earned) and striking out nine. MJ threw 80 pitches, 50 of which were strikes.

Nara's counterpart, Calvert Hall senior right-hander Manny Rodriguez, threw seven complete innings, yielding two hits, a run and striking out 10. Rodriguez threw 117 pitches, 67 of them for strikes.

Calvert Hall, now 13-3, came up with its first hit with one out and nobody on in the bottom of the seventh and watched Kriss, with runners on second and third and two outs, drive the ball to the gap in right-center field off a 2-1 pitch. Kriss' walk off came against Saint Ignatius' bullpen, but the run was charged to Nara.

The Calvert Hall Cardinals played errorless baseball and the Wildcats committed three errors.

Saint Ignatius, Ohio's Division I state runner-up in 2013, got its second hit off an infield chopper up the middle by junior catcher Alex Panstares leading off the top of the seventh. Nothing came of Panstares' hit, however, as Rodriguez sandwiched two strikeouts around a caught stealing.

"When it comes down to it, 100 percent this game is on my shoulders for being too aggressive (on the base paths)," said Coach Ganor of a strikeout, throw 'em out that ended the top of the sixth and the caught stealing in the top of the seventh. "I firmly believe that high school kids play on emotion and momentum. It's not a 162-game season, it's a short season, and they need to have that emotion and momentum on their side. And I took it out of our team and I gave it to the other team. That's totally on the coach and it won't happen again."

Next up on Saint Ignatius' Easter Break trip is Tuesday's game at Riverdale Baptist. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:30 PM and standout senior southpaw Nick Margevicius (3-0) is expected to take the mound for the 'Cats.

Following Tuesday afternoon's action, the Wildcats will attend Tuesday night's Anaheim Angels at Washington Nationals Major League Baseball Game.

Wildcats defeat Kirtland on Holy Saturday to take a 9-1 record into the Old Line State
4/19/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2014

Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, Ohio - As he was preparing his team for this coming week's trip to Maryland, Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor emphasized how important it is to "keep some fluidity" to the Wildcats' lineup.

A team rich in terms of its flexibility and talent, Saint Ignatius turned to a lineup on Saturday that truly showcased just how deep Coach Ganor's club is.

"Those guys, even though they're not everyday players, are one of the Saint Ignatius varsity baseball team this year," said Coach Ganor after his Wildcats won for the ninth time in 10 outings this spring by turning back a very capable Kirtland team, 6-2. "That's very important. They produced, just like we expected them to produce."

On what was another sunshine-laden afternoon on the campus of Baldwin Wallace University, the Kirtland Hornets took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning on a two-out RBI double by senior first baseman Erik Guhde.

Kirtland, which is now 6-3, opened the fourth inning with a walk to its talented senior shortstop Anthony Veneri. Veneri, however, was thrown out while attempting to steal second base on a strong throw by Wildcats senior catcher Pat Gulick. Pat also provided two hits on the day.

Two more walks opened the door for Guhde's clutch hit.

The Hornets' early momentum quickly disappeared as Saint Ignatius responded with four runs in the bottom of the fourth.    

Saint Ignatius' take-charge fourth inning featured a base hit by junior infielder/outfielder Mullen Socha, the first of two RBI on the day by senior first baseman Bennett Kinzel, who delivered the tying run off a single through the left side, a sacrifice fly RBI to deep center field by senior outfielder/infielder Ryan Cooper, who put the 'Cats ahead to stay, two stolen bases by Kinzel that were sandwiched around a walk to senior right fielder/relief ace Nick Longo, a take-one-for-the-team by senior designated hitter Kyle Daugenti, and an RBI single by senior pitcher/left fielder Shane Skuhrovec.

Kirtland would close to 4-2 with one out in the top of the fifth, but Saint Ignatius senior infielder/relief pitcher David Bodziony put an end to what could have been a big inning for the Hornets by recording consecutive strikeouts with the bases loaded.

"He's got a lot of moxie about him," Coach Ganor said of Bodziony. "He's got a carefree attitude, which is great. It serves him well."

Riding the momentum of Bodziony's Ks, the 'Cats then added some insurance by scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth. The two in the fifth were the result of a two-out, bases-empty rally that was fueled by a single from junior infielder Kurt Mantes, an error off a dropped fly ball and a line-drive RBI base hit by Kinzel. Along with his timely hitting, Kinzel was solid around the bag at first base.

Junior reliever Jacob Bangert pitched a 1-2-3 top of the sixth for the 'Cats and Longo slammed the door in the top of the seventh with a runner on third.

Mantes made a running over-the-shoulder catch of a pop fly in short left field for the second out of the seventh and Longo ended the game by striking out the next batter.

"They did a nice job," said Coach Ganor of those Wildcats who were given a chance to make their mark on Saturday. "I'm proud of them and I'm proud that when we look down the bench now, we see guys that we feel confident to put in the game. They just proved why they're on the team and why we made the right choices on the final roster."

Saint Ignatius had eight hits (all singles) and played errorless baseball. Kirtland finished with four knocks and committed two errors.

Skuhrovec is now 1-0 on the season as Shane started and went 4 1/3 innings. He threw 76 pitches, yielding two runs, two hits, striking out five and walking five.

Note: Among the Wildcats' eight hits was a single to right center by sophomore outfielder Jack Cook in the bottom of the sixth, which marked Jack's first hit on the varsity level. Jack was called up from the junior varsity team this week.

Not again: Just when Saint Ignatius thought it had seen enough injuries during the fall sports season, the injury bug has raised its ugly head again.

Wildcats gifted junior outfielder Sam Fuller will be sidelined for about four weeks with a broken thumb and promising junior left-handed pitcher Brendan Adler suffered what has been determined to be a torn ACL. Brendan suffered the knee injury while sliding into home plate during Thursday's victory over St. Edward.

MARYLAND BOUND: Up next for Wildcats baseball is the Easter Break trip to Maryland, where Saint Ignatius will face three outstanding programs -  versus the Calvert Hall Cardinals on Monday at 7 PM, versus Riverdale Baptist on Tuesday at 1:30 PM and versus Archbishop Curley on Wednesday at 4:30 PM.

The Calvert Hall Cardinals took a 12-3 record into this weekend's action after a big 9-3 victory over highly ranked Archbishop Spalding on Thursday. Calvert Hall has made 12 consecutive playoff appearances and has won 11 conference championships, including seven of the last nine MIAA titles.

Archbishop Curley owns a 12-1 victory over Calvert Hall this season and features one of Maryland's top players in junior third baseman Marty Costes, a .470-plus hitter. Riverdale Baptist, which defends its home (Terrill Field) with pride and passion, was 14-2 heading into Saturday and was 21st in its state rankings.

As part of the trip, the Wildcats will be attending a Washington Nationals game.

Have a wonderful and blessed Easter Sunday and, as the great, late Plain Dealer Stark County Sports Columnist and Canton radio legend Hymie Williams would always sign off with, "Good Bye Until The Next Time, Which Will Be The Best Time."       

Wildcats sweep two-game series versus Saint Edward to improve 8-1
4/17/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2014

Berea, Ohio - On what was a picture-perfect Thursday afternoon on the campus of Baldwin Wallace University, Saint Ignatius' varsity baseball team wasn't totally flawless in its execution.

The gritty and gifted Wildcats were, however, good enough to draw a smile of approval from their veteran manager Brad Ganor.

"Two-out hitting, just like yesterday, and sticking to the game plan," said Coach Ganor after Saint Ignatius rode a four-run bottom of the fifth inning to a 6-2 victory over West Side rival St. Edward.

With Thursday's victory, the Wildcats improved to 8-1 and completed a sweep of their two-game series versus the Eagles. Saint Ignatius, behind a dominant performance by senior southpaw Nick Margevicius, defeated St. Edward, 5-1, on Wednesday evening at Baldwin Wallace (see the corner's story from Wednesday night).

As for Thursday's encounter on the sun-drenched home of the Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets, St. Edward took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Eagles combined a leadoff single up the middle from hard-nosed and baseball savvy third baseman Joe Weisenseel and a two-out wild pitch into their short-lived advantage.

Saint Ignatius answered with two runs in the bottom of the first and it stayed that way entering the bottom of the fifth, when the Wildcats took command.

Senior right fielder Nick Longo, a Miami of Ohio recruit, got Saint Ignatius' offense fueled by leading off the bottom of the first with a double deep into the gap in right-center field off a 3-1 pitch.

Longo advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored the tying run when senior pitcher/center fielder Nick Fabian beat out a sharp grounder for an RBI base hit. Fabian is bound for West Virginia on a baseball scholarship.

After Fabian stole second base and senior left fielder Shane Skuhrovec drew a walk, Fabian and Skuhrovec pulled off a double steal with one out. Junior catcher Alex Panstares, who plays with a tough, but calm demeanor, then put the 'Cats in front, 2-1, with a sacrifice fly.

With Fabian and St. Edward starter Jaret Edwards settling in and putting zeroes on the scoreboard, the game was up for grabs through 4 1/2 innings.

In the top of the fifth, Fabian retired the first two batters he faced. But then Weisenseel was hit by a pitch. After Weisenseel stole second base, Fabian went to a 2-0 count on the next batter and the Saint Ignatius coaching staff made the call to the bullpen and brought on junior right-hander Luke Diggs. Fabian had thrown 84 pitches before he moved from the mound to center field.

A tension-filled top of the fifth continued as Eagles shortstop Will DeVito walked and center fielder Kyle Hegedus followed with a single to right field that loaded the bases.

Diggs showed his mental toughness, however, as he ended the threat by striking out St. Edward's clean-up hitter.

"I thought Nick Fabian did a good job settling in there," said Coach Ganor after his multi-skilled, two-year varsity veteran worked 4 and 2/3 innings, yielded two hits, struck out seven and walked one. "And Luke (Diggs) got out of some tough situations."   

Clinging to its 2-1 lead entering the bottom of the fifth, Saint Ignatius started its decisive charge with consecutive one-out singles by Skuhrovec and senior first baseman Joe Khoury.

Ice-in-his-veins Panstares then delivered a two-out RBI double to deep left field and junior shortstop Jake Kucia followed with a run-scoring single. Senior middle infielder Quillan Austria came up with the third big two-out hit - an RBI double - and Longo made it a 6-1 game by drawing a bases-loaded walk.

Before the dust settled in the bottom of the fifth, the Wildcats had batted around against the Eagles' bullpen.

St. Edward, which is now 4-4 on the young season, loaded the bases in the top of the sixth on one-out base hits by Jake Jones and Shayne Erny, and a walk to catcher Mason DeAnna. Diggs and Saint Ignatius junior reliever Jacob Bangert were equal to the task, however, as they turned back another challenge with consecutive strikeouts.

The Eagles made it a 6-2 final by scoring off two hit batsmen and a throwing error in the top of the seventh.

St. Edward finished with five hits and played errorless baseball and the Wildcats had nine hits and committed two errors.

"I think we're playing with confidence and that is what is most important," said Coach Ganor. "If we can stay consistent and keep playing with confidence, we're a tough team to beat."

*Up next for Saint Ignatius is Saturday morning's game versus the Kirtland Hornets at Baldwin Wallace University. Shane Skuhrovec will take the mound for the 11 AM first pitch.

Nick Margevicius' 12 K's and a powerful offense help Wildcats defeat the Eagles
4/17/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2014

Berea, Ohio - Nick Margevicius, the ace of Coach Brad Ganor's staff, shut out the Eagles in his five innings of work. The savvy senior southpaw yielded just one hit and rode a live fastball to 12 strikeouts en route to improving to 3-0 on the season.

Along with helping set the table for the Wildcats' offense, senior right fielder/pitcher Nick Longo, a Miami of Ohio recruit, pitched a perfect seventh inning that included two Ks.

Junior catcher Alex Panstares came up with a two-out, run-scoring single that made it a 2-0 game in the bottom of the third inning. Senior left fielder Shane Skuhrovec and senior center fielder Nick Fabian each produced two RBI and had clutch two-out hits in the Wildcats' three-run fourth inning.

Fabian, a West Virginia recruit, sent a two-run double to deep left field in the bottom of the fourth and Skuhrovec followed with a run-scoring single to center field. Skuhrovec brought home the Wildcats' first run of the third inning with an infield hit that followed a leadoff single by Longo, a passed ball and a fielder's choice.     

The 7-1 Wildcats and the 4-3 Eagles will return to Baldwin Wallace University tomorrow (Thursday) for the second of their two-game series. Nick Fabian will take the mound for the 2 PM first pitch.

*Here is a look at another chapter in what is one of the more storied rivalries in the history of Greater Cleveland's high school athletic competition.

If you are even vaguely familiar with the Saint Ignatius versus St. Edward rivalry you have probably heard or read a long-standing description of its intensity that states if a student from Saint Ignatius and a student from St. Edward were competing in a friendly game of chess or checkers at Public Square, at least 500 graduates from each school would show up to see how it turned out.

As someone who has been privileged to cover and report on the Wildcats-Eagles athletic encounters for what is now four-plus decades, let me assure you there is more truth than humor to the above statement.

That is why it was so refreshing to hear the words Saint Ignatius' standout senior left-hander Nick Margevicius spoke to this old-timer following his dominant one-hit, 12-strikeout performance in the Wildcats' 5-1 triumph over St. Edward on Wednesday evening.

"I'm not really for taking different approaches to different teams," said Margevicius, who blanked the Eagles through five complete innings on the sun-drenched and baseball-rich diamond at Baldwin Wallace University. With temperatures in the low 40s, Saint Ignatius' 10-year baseball manager Brad Ganor decided 74 pitches was enough for his ace.

"It doesn't really bother me who the opponent is," Margevicius continued after he improved to 3-0 this young season and 12-1 over his last 13 starts. "Whoever it is, it doesn't really matter. But it's nice to beat St. Edward."

Margevicius' "nice to beat St. Edward" comment came as cool and calm as his presence on the mound Wednesday evening.

After yielding an opposite way, 1-2 count single to the game's first batter - Eagles third baseman Joe Weisenseel - Margevicius went on to strike out the side in the first inning. A Ryder University recruit, Margevicius pitched a 1-2-3 second inning that included two more strikeouts and he set the Eagles down in order again in the third inning - on three Ks!

With Saint Ignatius leading, 2-0, in the top of the fourth, an error and a wild pitch put a St. Edward runner at second base with no outs.

Just when the Eagles had hopes of scoring off Margevicius, Saint Ignatius senior second baseman David Bodziony, one of Margevicius' closest friends, went a long way to haul in a foul fly ball along the first-base line for the first out of the inning. Margevicius then ended the top of the fourth with some more power pitching, efforts that saw him sandwich two more strikeouts around his only walk.

In the top of the fifth, with Saint Ignatius in its 'Cat seat at 5-0, Margevicius said good evening with another in-order inning that went strikeout, strikeout and 5-3. The smooth throw from sophomore third baseman Dennis Grosel to slick fielding senior first baseman Joe Khoury closed out a five-inning gem that Margevicius, whose demeanor it is not to dwell or brag on it, will file away for some other time to enjoy.

"Fastballs, fastballs all day," Margevicius said of his dominant pitch on Wednesday. "I didn't throw a curve ball the entire five innings. Maybe 10 or 11 change ups and the rest were fastballs. The last two outings I feel like I have been throwing pretty hard, the fastball is coming alive. It's something different for me. I never struck out 12 guys before in my life."

After the Eagles got to the Wildcats' bullpen for a run in the top of the sixth and Saint Ignatius went down in order in the bottom of the sixth, the 'Cats' version of "The Sandman," Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo, sent the Blue and Gold faithful home smiling by pitching a perfect top of the seventh.

"I thought he (St. Edward starter Jon Laird) pitched a pretty good game," said Coach Ganor after Laird went 3 and 2/3 innings and yielded five runs on six hits. "He's good, he's probably one of the better pitchers in the area. But again, we have game plans and we stuck to the game plan.

"We're not going to beat a team like that by 10 runs," Coach Ganor continued. "That was exactly the kind of game I thought it would be, relatively close and hard fought. We executed very well and Nick (Margevicius) did a fantastic job. We came out with a lot of energy."    

Today's games on all levels (Varsity, JV and Freshman) are cancellled
4/15/2014

Due to the snow expected in the area and the unplayable field conditions, all games scheduled are cancelled. Varsity and Junior Varsity were scheduled to take on Massillon Jackson, while Freshman were scheduled to take on Saint Edward. 

First OHSBCA State Poll rained out, plus run down on the poll voting
4/14/2014

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

For those loyal Saint Ignatius fans who e-mailed the corner today and inquired about how the state poll voting is done when it comes to baseball, here is a complete breakdown courtesy of the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association. The state baseball poll is a Coaches Poll, not a media production. Please note that the first poll of this crazy weather spring was cancelled due to the limited number of games teams have been able to play. 

OHSBCA Poll Voting Guidelines

Eligible Poll Voters have two voting responsibilities:

State Coaches Poll:  Member Teams are rated in each of the four divisions five times each spring. Poll champions are recognized at the state clinic. There are 32 voting coaches in each division.

All-Ohio Coaches Poll Team: The poll coaches in each division select an All-Ohio Team. All players, of member schools, are eligible (not just seniors). Each division selects a Player of the Year (POY) and a Coach-of-the-Year (COY). They are recognized by the wire services and are awarded a plaque at the annual convention.

Poll Voting begins 4/17/2014 and runs Thursday through Saturday until 5/17/2014 for Team Rankings.   Poll Team All-Ohio voting runs 5/22-25/2014.

1. Coaches must be a member of the OHSBCA in order to vote, have their team ranked, or nominate for All-Ohio.

2. Any head coach who is interested in voting must complete an application and return it to the Poll Director or his district representative (on-line application from  May through September).

3. The number of coaches voting in a district will vary, determined by the number of coaches in their respective district. (Determined by member coaches per District/Division).

4. Coaches selected to vote will be notified by their Dist. Reps and their names / emails will be put on the website.

5. The Poll will be conducted for 5 consecutive weeks. Ballots will be e-mailed to eligible poll voters and recorded between Thursday and Saturday of the indicated weeks, beginning the 3rd week of the season. Results will be online the following Monday.

*Poll Voting Schedule for 2014 :
Week 1:  Cancelled due to weather
Week 2:  April 24
Week 3:  May 1
Week 4:  May 8
Week 5:  May 15

Today's games on all levels (Varsity, JV and Freshman) are cancellled
4/14/2014

Due to incelement weather and poor field conditions, the Varsity, Junior Varsity, and Freshman games versus Massillon have been cancelled.

Jake Kucia's RBI Walk-Off single lifts the Wildcats over the Rebels at Classic Park
4/12/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2014

Classic Park, Lake County - Trailing, 5-2, entering the bottom of the seventh, the Wildcats scored a run off a walk to senior second baseman Quillan Austria, a line-drive single by senior designated hitter Nick Fabian and some shaky play by the Rebels' middle infield.

Senior Joe Khoury then delivered a game-tying, two-run double deep into the gap in left-center field and with two outs and runners on second and third, junior shortstop Jake Kucia drove a 2-1 fastball up the gut for the game-winning hit.

The 'Cats, who trailed, 3-0, after four innings and 5-1 entering the bottom of the sixth, improved to 6-1 on the young season.

After Willoughby South starter Russell Lamovec pitched an impressive six innings that saw him yielded two runs on five hits, walk three and strikeout eight, Saint Ignatius got to the Rebels' bullpen. Lamovec threw 109 pitches, 65 of which were strikes.

Up next for Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats is Monday's game versus the Massillon Tigers at Baldwin Wallace University. The first pitch is scheduled for 5 PM.

****Congratulations also go out to Saint Ignatius' junior varsity baseball team, which improved to 5-0 by defeating Willoughby South's jayvees, 7-1, in a game that preceded the varsity match up.

****Here is a look at the dramatic victory by Coach Ganor's club, and we will have a report on the red-hot Junior Varsity Baseball Wildcats coming up.

As he stood in the on-deck circle in the bottom of the seventh inning, Saint Ignatius' talented and tough-minded junior shortstop Jake Kucia said he was thinking about it the whole time. "It" being a strikeout that occurred in his previous at-bat.

"It was great," said Kucia of being presented with a chance to redeem himself. "The whole time I was in the on-deck circle I was saying to myself, 'I'm not going to K again, I'm going to get it done.' And I went out there, and I got it done."

Taking a 2-1 fastball right back up the middle with two outs and two on the bottom of the seventh inning, Kucia delivered the winning run in what was one of the more thrilling regular-season victories the 'Cats have produced under 10-year head coach Brad Ganor.

"I thought we were all a little frustrated because we gave up three runs in the first inning," said Kucia of a Wildcats' offense that struggled through the first four innings. We weren't going to get all three runs back at one time, we had to chip away at it."

Providing the first major chip in what was a sturdy armor worn by Willoughby South's starting pitcher Russell Lamovec was Wildcats junior center fielder Sam Fuller.

After the South Rebels, sparked by a leadoff single by center fielder Josh MacMullan and a two-run triple to deep center field by designated hitter Dan Danford, jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Saint Ignatius finally got on the board with two outs in the bottom of the fifth on a towering two-run solo home run by Fuller that cleared the fence in left field.

Willoughby South would answer with two runs in the top of the sixth and Saint Ignatius trailed, 5-2, after it combined base hits by senior left fielder/pitcher Shane Skuhrovec, senior first baseman Joe Khoury and senior right fielder Nick Longo, and a bases-loaded walk to junior catcher Alex Panstares, into a run in the bottom of the sixth. Longo's hit came off a perfectly executed bunt that he beat out for a hit.

Lamovec finished his impressive afternoon by ending the sixth with consecutive strikeouts and South was threatening again in the top of the seventh after Danford led off with a double.

However, with two outs in the top of the seventh, Fuller charged a single to center field and made a big-time throw to home plate, where Panstares made the catch and tag on Rebels' pinch runner Brent Harwood.

Fuller's throw highlighted a solid defensive day by Saint Ignatius. Khoury was again Vic-Power like at first base with his footwork and picks off throws in the dirt and Kucia saved a run in the top of the fourth with a diving stop of a sharp grounder up the middle.

As exciting and note worthy as the first 6 1/2 innings were, it all came down the four-run bottom of the seventh that was set up by a one-walk to senior second baseman Quillan Austria, a blistering single by multi-position senior and West Virginia recruit Nick Fabian and a couple of miscues by the Rebels off a ground ball to the right side - a bad flip and a throwing error that helped lead to the Wildcats' third run.

Khoury then stepped to the plate and sent Mr. Rawlings to gap city via a soaring two-run, game-tying double to left center. Joe's gap blast set the stage for Kucia, who like Khoury, mistreated a fastball offered by the Rebels' bullpen.

"The last inning, it's take until we get a strike," said Khoury. "You see that first strike and you think, oh yeah, I could have bombed that one. Luckily I got another one and drove in those two runs. After that, Kucia took over.

"Normally you just forget about a strikeout and never apologize for it," Khoury continued. "But Kucia came in the dugout and said he was sorry for that K (in Jake's previous at-bat). I knew he was going to get it done, he wasn't going to go down twice. He's a gamer, that's all you have to say about Jake Kucia."

Being a "gamer" runs in Jake's family, as he is the nephew of one of the ultimate clutch players in Saint Ignatius' rich athletic history, three-sport standout (football, baseball and basketball) Scott Mutryn from the Class of 1994.

"We were off-balance early on," said Coach Ganor. "We have a game plan, we don't just show up and through out a lineup card. We talk about execution and game plans, and we stuck to the game plan and stuck to what our focus is. Eventually it comes together and we produce.

"Obviously, Jake's hit was huge," Coach Ganor continued. "But just as huge was guys getting on base ahead of him. Having the confidence when you're at bat, knowing that you have already produced in this situation, that is what wins in the postseason. That is all we care about, getting ready for baseball in May and June. This was just another step in that direction."  

Saint Ignatius suffers their first loss to Avon Lake at Progressive Field in part of the CIC Hardball Classic
4/12/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2014

Cleveland, Ohio - Avon Lake rode four RBI by its outstanding senior catcher Brad Hamilton to the early 7-0 lead in what was the featured game of the annual Cleveland Indians Charities Hardball Classic.

Sparked by the hitting of senior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo, junior shortstop Jake Kucia and junior outfielder Sam Fuller, Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats score a run in the top of the fourth and put up a four-run sixth inning.

Standout senior southpaw Nick Margevicius keeps the 'Cats' hopes alive by coming on in relief in the bottom of the sixth and throwing a 1-2-3, 15-pitch inning that featured three strikeouts.

Saint Ignatius is retired in order in the top of the seventh, however, as the Wildcats experience their first setback in six games this season.

Here is the corner’s take on a game that matched two of Northeast Ohio’s best.

From Progressive Field – Yes, it would have been nice to walk out of what is one of the finest Major League Baseball venues in the nation with a victory on Friday night.

That said, Saint Ignatius’ 7-5 setback to Avon Lake in the annual Cleveland Indians Charities Hardball Classic is nothing for Wildcats fans to be overly concerned about.

First of all, it was the ‘Cats’ first loss in six games this spring and there will probably be another one before the regular season comes to an end.

It is only in the OHSAA’s sectional, district, regional and state tournaments that a ball club has no other choice than to put the emphasis on perfection. At that point of the year, a loss marks the end of another season.

A second thought to consider is that Avon Lake is a solid and experienced team. Anyone who witnessed last year’s Division 1 Regional Semifinal between the Wildcats and the Shoremen, won by Saint Ignatius, 3-2, knows exactly what we are talking about.

So, put the focus on the heart the Wildcats displayed in battling back and making a game of it on Friday night, and place the loss in the future reference file just in case the Wildcats and the Shoremen meet again this spring in what would truly be a “big” game.

“I take a lot out of that, guys fighting and not giving up till the end,” said Saint Ignatius head coach Brad Ganor, who watched his team fall behind Coach Kevin Marlow’s Shoremen, 7-0, after two innings.

Avon Lake grabbed the early momentum, to say the least, as the Shoremen delighted their faithful to the tune of a five run bottom of the first.

A leadoff single by senior outfielder Jace Russell and two walks loaded the bases, and then Avon Lake’s gifted senior catcher Brad Hamilton delivered a two-run single through the left side of the infield.

A sacrifice fly off the bat of Shoremen junior infielder Payton Perry made it a 3-0 game and a hit batsman and a throwing error allowed two more runs to score.

The Shoremen, who improved to 4-1, added two runs in the top of the second on a one-out, two-run double to the gap in left-center field by Hamilton.

A player who left a lasting impression on this corner last season, Brad Hamilton is the son of the Indians’ outstanding radio broadcaster Tom Hamilton and the brother of Indians prospect Nick Hamilton, a former Avon Lake and Kent State University mainstay. Brad will be furthering his education and baseball career at Kent State.

After Saint Ignatius was unable to produce anything from two-out singles in the top of the third by senior center fielder and West Virginia recruit Nick Fabian and hot-hitting senior left fielder Shane Skuhrovec, the ‘Cats got on the board in the fourth inning.

Senior right fielder Nick Longo, who is bound for Miami of Ohio on a baseball scholarship, led off the fourth by ripping a double down the right-field line. After a sacrifice bunt by senior catcher Pat Gulick, Longo scored off a passed ball.

With Coach Ganor’s bullpen keeping the Shoremen stranded through Avon Lake’s final four innings of at-bats, Saint Ignatius had its fan base roaring in the late stages of Friday night’s game.

The excitement was generated by a four-run top of the sixth that was fueled after Longo and junior catcher Alex Panstares worked the count for consecutive walks. A throwing error off a double steal led to the Wildcats’ second run and a walk to junior infielder Mullen Socha, followed by an authoritative RBI double down the left-field line by junior shortstop Jake Kucia, cut the deficit to 7-3. Jake is the nephew of former Saint Ignatius football and baseball star Scott Mutryn ’94.

After Socha and Kucia pulled off a double steal, junior outfielder Sam Fuller, a multi-skilled player who is a true student of the game, laced a two-run double to the gap in right center and Coach Ganor’s team trailed, 7-5. Saint Ignatius outhit Avon Lake, 8-5.

“I think Jake Kucia had a nice day, Nick Longo had a nice day and a couple of our guys off the bench did a good job,” Coach Ganor said.

“When it comes down to it, this (loss) is a grain of sand in the season," Coach Ganor continued. "It’s all
about the experience of getting underneath the stands, getting in the (Indians) batting cages and feeling like you’re a big leaguer for a day. The kids are amazed to be down here (at Progressive Field) and that’s what is important.”

The Wildcats, who went down in order in the top of seventh, will now focus on Saturday’s match up with the Willoughby South Rebels at Classic Park. Junior Luke Diggs will take the mound for the 2 PM first pitch.

Saturday’s varsity game will be preceded by an 11 AM junior varsity game between the Wildcats and the Rebels. Can wait to get a look at the JV 'Cats.

 

Win streak is now at five with a win against Nordonia in Lake County
4/11/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2014

Classic Park, Lake County - Nick Fabian, the Wildcats' standout senior center fielder/right-handed pitcher, yielded three hits and a run over five innings, struck out eight and walked one. Nick threw 83 pitches,
49 of which were strikes.

Fabian, junior third baseman Kurt Mantes, senior left fielder Shane Skuhrovec, junior shortstop Jake Kucia, senior first baseman Joe Khoury, junior outfielder Sam Fuller, senior infielders Ryan Cooper and Quillan Austria and junior infielder Mullen Socha helped fuel an offense that produced 13 hits.

Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats will take their 5-0 record into Friday evening's 5:30 match up with the Avon Lake Shoremen at Progressive Field.

Senior Bennett Kinzel, the pride of St. Bernadette, will take the mound in Progressive Field for what will be his first varsity start.

Here is a look at Thursday's 8-1 victory over the Nordonia Knights, who now stand 2-3.

After he watched his Wildcats continue to produce runs in key situations and get solid pitching, this time from West Virginia recruit Nick Fabian, Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor smiled and said, "Thirteen hits and eight runs. I'll take that every day."

While there are certainly things the Wildcats need to improve on, the talent, depth and clutch play Saint Ignatius has displayed in its five victories in five games this young season have left a positive impression, to
say the least.

Coach Ganor's 2014 Wildcats not only know how to play the game, they seem to enjoy every minute when they are between the lines.

That was evident again on Thursday evening when the 'Cats came up with an 8-1 victory over the Nordonia Knights in baseball-rich Classic Park, the home of Cleveland Indians' Class A affiliate, the Lake County Captains.

"Nick did a nice job," said Coach Ganor after Fabian worked five strong innings that included eight strikeouts. "He gave up that one run and then settled in. He kept them off balance, threw strikes and pitched to the park a little bit.

"Sometimes you have to pitch to your surroundings," Coach Ganor continued. "You have a big ballpark, let them put the ball in play and typically we'll catch it. We're fast enough to get to them."

After Fabian threw a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 first inning that included two strikeouts, Nordonia took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second.

The second inning started with a scary moment, as the Knights' catcher and clean-up hitter Kevin Chonko was hit by a pitch that came off his helmet with force and sent him to the ground. After being attended to
immediately, Chonko walked off the field with some assistance.

Nordonia's Tyler Majoros, who entered the game to run for Chonko, stole second base and came home on a two-out RBI double by first baseman Dominic Cinalli.

Saint Ignatius, as it has been doing repeatedly while totaling 44 runs through five games, responded in a manner that featured Coach Ganor's coveted "situational hitting."

En route to scoring two runs in the bottom of the second, the Wildcats sandwiched two stolen bases by senior first baseman Joe Khoury around a walk to senior catcher Pat Gulick. Gulick then came up with a steal and junior third baseman Kurt Mantes tied the score with a sacrifice fly to deep center field. Mantes drew praise from Saint Ignatius' coaching staff for the solid at-bats he turned in on Thursday.

The Wildcats' second and go ahead to stay run in the bottom of the second came courtesy of an RBI double by junior shortstop Jake Kucia.

Following another two Ks inning by Fabian in the top of the fourth, Saint Ignatius got a lead-off sharp single up the middle by hot-hitting senior left fielder Shane Skuhrovec to start the bottom of the fourth. Shane would come around to score on a fielder's choice that featured another solid situational at-bat by Mantes.

Junior Sam Fuller, who is part of a Wildcats outfield that ranks among the best in the state, led off the bottom of the fifth with a triple to deep center field. Sam appeared to make a scoring slide at home off a ground ball to the left side, but was called out off the 5-to-2 throw.

Undaunted, Saint Ignatius took control on two-out RBI base hits by Fabian and Khoury, and held a 5-1 lead entering the top of the sixth. Khoury's clutch hit came after the Knights intentionally walked Skuhrovec.

Coach Ganor's team then put the finishing touches on another victory with a strong sixth inning of relief by junior Jacob Bangert and a three-run bottom of the sixth that was highlighted by a run-scoring single from senior infielder Ryan Cooper and RBI base hits by senior infielder Quillan Austria and junior infielder Mullen Socha.

Senior right fielder/pitcher Nick Longo, a Miami of Ohio recruit, closed the show with another solid relief effort in the seventh.

“Situational hitting, that’s all we talk about,” said Coach Ganor. “Every day at practice, we take situational BP. We’ve been doing it forever. It’s nice to see these guys buying into it and executing it.”  

 

Wildcats stay perfect at Classic Park with a win over Saint Vincent-Saint Mary
4/10/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2014

Classic Park, Lake County - MJ Nara, the Wildcats' gritty and gifted junior right-hander, went 4 and 2/3 innings in improving to 2-0 on the young season. His line included three hits, two runs, nine strikeouts and a walk.

Senior center fielder/pitcher and West Virginia recruit Nick Fabian drove in two huge runs as Coach Brad Ganor's undefeated 'Cats turned away Coach Anthony Boarman's talented and upset-minded Irish.

Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo not only contributed at the plate for Saint Ignatius, but took the mound in the top of the seventh and fired a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts en route to earning the save.

Fabian will make his first start of the season on Thursday, when the Wildcats return to Classic Park to face the Nordonia Knights. The first pitch is scheduled for 4:30 PM.

"It was a very two-sided game," Fabian said of the victory over the Irish. "Every time we scored they scored, it seemed like a routine there for a little bit. We battled and we knew what we needed to do, because this was our first big challenge of the year. This was really a huge win today and I'm very proud of the guys. It showed a lot of character to come back and get some insurance runs.

"I like our bats right now, a lot, and we're definitely pretty aggressive on the bases," Fabian continued. "We need to improve on our decisions sometimes, me included, in not making dumb mistakes on the base paths."  

*Here is a further look at Wednesday evening's victory over St. Vincent-St. Mary from atmosphere-rich Classic Park, the home of the Lake County Captains.

After his Wildcats improved to 4-0, Brad Ganor, Saint Ignatius High School's highly successful head baseball coach, made clear his impressions of the team that was packing up and leaving the visitors' dugout on Wednesday evening.

"They're always good, they're always solid and well coached," said Coach Ganor of the Irish from St. Vincent-St. Mary, who were turned away by the Wildcats, 6-3, in Lake County. "I think Anthony (SVSM head coach Anthony Boarman) does a phenomenal job in getting them ready.

"In the pregame, I could tell this wasn't going to be a walk in the park for us," Coach Ganor continued.

Solid coaching runs in the Boarman family, as Anthony Boarman is the son of one of Ohio's premier football coaches, St. Vincent-St. Mary's multiple state champion head coach Dan Boarman.

Coming in as the underdog to a Saint Ignatius team that finished as the Division I state runner-up last season, and might have more overall depth and talent this spring, the Irish left everything they had on the well-manicured Classic Park diamond.

Coach Ganor, who has now guided his team to 26 victories in the program's last 28 games, watched the 'Cats take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

Saint Ignatius' multi talented senior center fielder Nick Fabian led off the bottom of the first by drawing a walk. Fabian would go on to steal second and third, and came home with the game's first run on a two-out hustle double by senior first baseman and Mount Union recruit Joe Khoury. The Wildcats stole five bases on Wednesday and now have 13 in their past two games combined.

St. Vincent-St. Mary, which entered Wednesday's game with a record of 1-1, tied the score in the top of the second. Irish junior shortstop Ian Dillard led off with an infield hit and stole second base. With one out, Dillard would steal third and he scored the tying run on a two-out RBI single up the middle off the bat of senior right fielder Vinny Carson.

"MJ (Wildcats starting pitcher MJ Nara) did a nice job of settling in there after giving up that one in the second and we did a great job responding to that one run," said Coach Ganor. "Those games when teams show up at the park and feel like they're the underdog, the more hope you give them the longer they can stay in the game."

Saint Ignatius, which again pleased Coach Ganor and his staff with its impressive two-strike and two-out hitting, regained the lead in the bottom of the second on a two-out RBI single by Fabian.

The Wildcats, who have now won the first two of what is a five games in five days week, increased their lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the third. Providing the big blows were Khoury with a one-out double, senior right fielder/relief pitcher Nick Longo with a scorching line-drive, run-scoring double to right off a 2-2 pitch and an RBI double to deep left field by junior catcher Alex Panstares.

St. Vincent-St. Mary wasn't going to make the healthy trip back to Akron without something to build off of.

After Nara started the top of the fifth with consecutive strikeouts, the next two Irish batters were hit by a pitch. Nara had reached his pitch count, so Coach Ganor turned to his bullpen and SVSM manufactured a run on a wild pitch, a walk and another hit batsman.

Now trailing by two runs, the Irish made it a 4-3 game by combining a walk, a wild pitch, a stolen base and a throwing error into a run in the top of the sixth.

Displaying the resiliency that goes hand in hand with being one of the top teams in Ohio, Saint Ignatius put out the fire in the top of sixth when senior second baseman David Bodziony made a nice catch and tag off an attempted stolen base, regained control by scoring twice in the bottom of the sixth and slammed the door in the top of the seventh behind Longo's strong and savvy save.

The Wildcats' sixth-inning, take-command offense saw junior infielder Kurt Mantes lead off with a walk and promptly steal second base. Multi-skilled junior outfielder Sam Fuller, a student of the game, then laid down a sacrifice bunt and Fabian followed with another authoritative hit that landed in right-center field for his second RBI.

After impervious to pressure senior shortstop Quillan Austria turned a Baltimore Chop into a base hit, rock-steady senior left fielder Shane Skuhrovec delivered the game's final run off an RBI single.

"We had to pitch a little bit today," said Coach Ganor, whose team totaled 30 runs in its first three games combined this season. "We got out of a couple of jams and Nick (Longo) did exactly what we needed him to do in the seventh, throw strikes and go 1-2-3. I'm glad they challenged us, it was actually closer than 6-3. That was a good test." 

COACH GANOR ADDS A GAME TO THE WILDCATS' SCHEDULE: With Mother Nature wiping out several games during the first week of the baseball season, schools throughout the area and the state having been searching for opponents.

Coach Ganor shared with the corner on Wednesday that he has added a game for Easter Saturday morning versus the Kirtland Hornets at Baldwin Wallace University. The first pitch will be 11 AM.

TWIN BILL ON SATURDAY: Just a reminder that the match up with Willoughby South on Saturday in Classic Park is a junior varsity and varsity doubleheader. The JV Baseball 'Cats will face the Rebels' jayvees at 11 AM, followed by the varsity game at 2 PM. 

WIldcats get better of Falcons to stay perfect at Kent State Unviersity
4/9/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, COPYRIGHT April 2014

On the strength of an eight-run second inning, Coach Brad Ganor's Saint Ignatius Varsity Baseball Team took a 10-0 lead into the top of the third inning.

The Firestone Falcons, scoring five times in the top of the sixth, closed to 10-6 before the Wildcats settled the issue with four runs in the bottom half of the sixth.

Saint Ignatius, which now stands 3-0, got another solid pitching performance from senior southpaw Nick Margevicius, three runs batted in from senior first baseman Joe Khoury and two RBI from both senior left fielder Shane Skuhrovec and junior outfielder Sam Fuller. Senior catcher Pat Gulick, Fuller and juniors Jake Kucia and Dylan Welch provided the big hits in the sixth.

In improving to 2-0 this spring and 11-1 over his last 12 decisions, Margevicius pitched three shutout innings. He struck out six and walked one. Of the 45 pitches Nick threw, 33 of them were strikes. He fired a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the third.

Junior right-hander MJ Nara will take the mound on Wednesday as the Wildcats continue their five games in five days stretch with a 4:30 game versus the Fighting Irish from St. Vincent-St. Mary at Classic Park, the home of the Lake County Captains.

*Here is a complete look at Tuesday's game from the impressive baseball facility at Kent State University.

Kent, Ohio - The sky was completely blue and the sun made itself at home on the baseball-rich facility known as Kent State University's Schoonover Stadium.

And it didn't take long before Coach Brad Ganor's Saint Ignatius Wildcats were more than comfortable on Schoonover Stadium's Olga A. Mural Field.

The 'Cats were purring after their bats road loud and true to a 10-0 lead over Akron Firestone with the game just two innings old. That was more than enough to allow Saint Ignatius' gifted senior left-hander Nick Margevicius to power his way to his second victory in as many starts on this young season. Nick caged the Falcons through three shutout innings of work.

As for the Wildcats' offense, it struck for two runs in the bottom of the first inning and then silenced the Firestone faithful by scoring eight times in the second inning.

Senior shortstop Quillen Austria got things started in the bottom of the first by beating out a chopper to the left side for a base hit. Austria stole second base, alertly went to third on a pitch in the dirt and scored when senior center fielder Nick Fabian beat out a sharp ground ball to the left side.

Fabian stole second base, senior left fielder Shane Skuhrovec singled to right field and Saint Ignatius tallied its second run of the game on a two-out sacrifice fly by junior catcher Alex Panstares.

The second inning was an example of what Coach Ganor's 2014 Wildcats are capable of.

Featuring a solid nucleus from last season's Division I state runner-up team, Saint Ignatius put on a display of timely hitting in the count and heads-up base running en route to the eight runs and a 10-0 lead.

After junior infielder Mullen Socha led off the bottom of the second with a walk and sophomore infielder Dennis Grosel was hit by a pitch, the 'Cats' made it a 3-0 game on a balk and a wild pitch. A sacrifice fly by athletically gifted junior outfielder Sam Fuller accounted for Saint Ignatius' fourth run and the other big second inning blows were a two-run single by Skuhrovec and a three-run, bases-loaded double down the left-field line by senior first baseman Joe Khoury.

At that point, Coach Ganor and his veteran assistant coaches Mark Terlep and Josh Bieneman started to utilize their younger or less battled-tested players. And while some of the new faces performed well and others played like its was their first extensive varsity experience, you can be sure all of them will be given another opportunity by Coach Ganor and his staff. That is how they do things at the Jesuit Preparatory School in Ohio City and why they are so successful in the long run.

Just when it appeared that Ohio's 10-run mercy rule might come into play, the now 0-4 Falcons from Firestone put their pride and heart on display in Schoonover Stadium.

A walk, a one-out single by Damien Goostree and two Saint Ignatius errors accounted for Firestone's first run in the top of the fourth. Sending 11 batters to the plate in the top of the sixth and taking advantage of five walks, a hit batsman and a wild pitch, the Falcons cut their deficit to 10-6. The big Firestone hit in its five-run sixth was a bases-loaded, two-run double by Corbin White.

However, like all championship-caliber teams do, Saint Ignatius, following a get-your-heads-back-in-the-game pep talk by Coach Terlep, responded with authority.

Regaining total control with a four-run bottom of the sixth, the Wildcats got Coach Terlep's wake-up call and performed like a champion. As Coach Ganor emphasized, once his lineup is solidified you will see the 'Cats begin to put teams away much sooner.  

A lead-off double in the bottom half of the sixth by senior catcher Pat Gulick, a moving the runner over effort from senior infielder/pitcher Bennett Kinzel and a two-out double by junior Dylan Welch that was followed by RBI singles by Fuller and junior Jake Kucia had Saint Ignatius' faithful smiling as bright as the sky that greeted the teams for the 5:10 first pitch.

After all, the game was played at the home of the Golden Flashes.

****NOTE OF THANKS: Coach Ganor and the entire Saint Ignatius baseball family want to send out a huge Thank You to one of the Wildcats' greatest fans, Axel Hoyer, who donated the classy and baseball-sharp new blue jerseys that the 'Cats unveiled on Tuesday.

What some of Saint Ignatius' fans and several Cleveland Browns fans might not be aware of is that Brian Hoyer, the Browns' starting quarterback and one of Axel's sons, was an outstanding baseball player at Saint Ignatius, possessing skills on the diamond that had the attention of Major League Baseball scouts.    

Wildcat Baseball: Five Games in Five Days!
4/7/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2014

Brooklyn, Ohio – After sweeping their season-opening series at Archbishop Hoban on Tuesday and Wednesday, Coach Brad Ganor’s Varsity Baseball Wildcats had games versus Aurora and Stow canceled this past week due to the weather and the various field conditions.

The Aurora game was scheduled for Kent State University and that is exactly where the Wildcats hope to get back on the field as they are scheduled to face Akron Firestone on Tuesday at Kent State. The first pitch is listed for 5 PM.

Saint Ignatius got some solid workman-like starting pitching from senior southpaw and Captain Nick Margevicius and junior right-hander MJ Nara in defeating the Hoban Knights, 7-2 and 9-5. The ‘Cats also benefited from the big inning that their offense provided in each game.

In what Coach Ganor and his staff are hoping will be the first full week of the young 2014 season, Saint Ignatius is
also slated to face St. Vincent-St. Mary on Wednesday at 4:30 in Classic Park, the home of the Lake County Captains. The Wildcats will return to Classic Park on Thursday for a 4:30 match up with the Knights from Nordonia, on Friday it’s the highlight of the week as Saint Ignatius faces Avon Lake in Progressive Field at 5:30, and the week’s final game on Saturday has the ‘Cats returning to the friendly confines of Classic Park for a 2 PM test that the Rebels from Willoughby South are sure to provide.

Friday’s game versus Avon Lake at the home of the Cleveland Indians is an intriguing one, as it matches two classy
programs that each return a solid nucleus from their encounter in last year’s Division I Regional Semifinals.

That evening, with temperatures approaching 90 degrees in a sun-drenched Nobby’s Ballpark at Case Western Reserve University, Coach Ganor’s Wildcats and Coach Kevin Marlow’s Shoremen, teams whose gritty and baseball savvy approaches almost mirror one another, tested each other's will for three hours before Saint Ignatius prevailed, 3-2. The ‘Cats would go on to finish as the big-school state runner-up to Archbishop Moeller.

Saint Ignatius and Avon Lake are no strangers to the impressive building that resides at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario, as on April 26 of last season the Wildcats rode a five-run first inning to a 9-1 victory over the Shoremen in the
annual Cleveland Indians Charities High School Hardball Classic at Progressive Field.

This corner said it and wrote it last year, and will repeat it again. Avon Lake’s outstanding senior catcher Brad Hamilton left a lasting impression on this old-timer in both of last season’s games versus Saint Ignatius with his hitting, the way he handles himself behind the plate and the class he exudes.

Brad is the younger brother of former Avon Lake and Kent State University College World Series mainstay, and current Indians prospect, Nick Hamilton.

In case you didn’t know, Nick and Brad are the proud sons of the Indians’ Tom Hamilton, who is one of the greatest radio broadcasters in the history of Major League Baseball. Brad Hamilton, who will be furthering his education and baseball career at Kent State, is coming off a junior season in which he hit a team-best .450, including six home runs. He garnered All-Ohio recognition in 2013 and was a first-team All-Lorain County and All-Southwestern Conference pick.

Friday’s game, in this corner’s humble opinion, will feature two of the premier catchers the Buckeye State has to offer in Brad Hamilton and the Wildcats’ gifted young man behind the mask, junior Alex Panstares. Alex cracked Saint Ignatius’ starting lineup as a sophomore.

Avon Lake and Saint Ignatius fans might recall some of the crucial blocks off pitches in the dirt that Panstares made during the late stages of last year’s tension-packed Regional Semifinal. 

NOTE: The Patrick McGuire ’14-led Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network will bring you live coverage on four of the five scheduled varsity baseball games this week –  versus St. Vincent-St. Mary,
Nordonia, Avon Lake and Willoughby South.

If Mother Nature allows, the corner will be on hand for all five games.

Have a great week and weekend!

Today's games on all levels (Varsity, JV and Freshman) are cancellled
4/6/2014

Today's games versus Stow at Stow High School have been cancelled due to unplayable field conditions. 

Today's games on all levels (Varsity, JV and Freshman) are cancellled
4/3/2014

Today's games have been cancelled due to rain.

Wildcats sweep two-game series with Archbishop Hoban
4/3/2014

Posted by Brendan DeVenney '17

Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats went into Wednesday afternoon's game with the Knights having already defeated Hoban 7-2 the previous day at Archbishop Hoban High School. Saint Ignatius took that momentum into the second game of the two-game series Wednesday defeating the Knights by a score of 9-5

The win had a lot to do with a five-run fifth inning. It started off with Mullen Socha and Kurt Mantes getting on base, and then Quillen Austria and Nick Fabian driving in three of the five runs. Junior M.J. Nara made his first varsity start going 3 2/3 innings and then the bullpen did the rest. All leading to a big 9-5 win over the Knights.

FOR A FULL IN DEPTH STORY ON WEDNESDAY'S GAME HEAD OVER TO EDDIE DWYER'S CORNER!

The Wildcats are now 2-0 on the year and now take on the 2-0 Aurora Greenmen Thursday at Kent State University at the Golden Flashes Schoonover Stadium. The 2013 State Semifinalist Greenmen are coming off a huge win Wednesday against the Eagles of Saint Edward where Adam Long went seven innings with a no-hiiter. The Greenmen would defeat Saint Edward 7-2. 

What's going on with the Junior Varsity and Freshman Wildcats? Well both teams get their season's going on Thursday with a doubleheader against the Eastlake North Rangers at Eastlake North High School. We will keep you posted. Good luck to both teams this season!

A Five Run Fifth Inning helps lift the WIldcats over the Knights on Opening Day
4/2/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, COPYRIGHT April 2014

Saint Ignatius out hit the Knights from Archbishop Hoban, 9-3, as Nick Margevicius struck out six and walked two in 4 and 2/3 innings of work. Nick was coming off a 2013 season that saw him go 9-1, help Saint Ignatius to a Division I state runner-up finish and garner Special Mention on The Plain Dealer's seven-county All-Star Team.

Coach Ganor's 'Cats broke the game open with a five-run fifth inning that featured an RBI single by standout junior catcher Alex Panstares, an RBI sacrifice fly by senior second baseman David Bodziony, an RBI single by senior shortstop Quillen Austria and a two-out, two-run single by senior center fielder and West Virginia recruit Nick Fabian.

NOTE: In volleyball action from Sullivan Gymnasium on Tuesday night, Saint Ignatius was defeated by St. Edward in straight sets, 25-18, 25-20 and 25-22.

Now back to the baseball game, which was played on a sun-drenched field adjacent to the scenic campus of Archbishop Hoban.   

AKRON, OHIO - When asked what pleased him and what things didn't sit well after his team opened its 2014 season with a 7-2 victory at Archbishop Hoban on Tuesday evening, Saint Ignatius Head Baseball Coach Brad Ganor quickly replied, "Well, Nick Margevicius pleased me.

"Being on a pitch count and getting that deep into the game (4 and 2/3 innings) was a good thing," Coach Ganor continued in reference to Nick yielding three hits, walking two and striking out six in the 78 pitches he threw. "Offensively, I think we looked like it was the first game. We're athletic enough to overcome that, which we did, but it was certainly evident that we hadn't played much baseball yet."

With a persistent winter carrying over to the early spring, Saint Ignatius, along with several other programs throughout Ohio, had its scheduled opening weekend shutout by rain, sleet and snow.

So it was great to get off the bus at Archbishop Hoban and be greeted by sunshine and temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s.

Like Coach Ganor pointed out, there were some first-game miscues and even a few jitters accompanying a Wildcats program that won 27 games last season and finished as Ohio's Division I runner-up to two-time defending state champion Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller. And Hoban experienced some of those same mental and physical mistakes as each team committed three errors.

However, when you have a strong and savvy senior southpaw in Margevicius and big-game tested players such as senior center fielder Nick Fabian, senior left fielder Shane Skuhrovec, senior right fielder Nick Longo, junior catcher Alex Panstares, senior first baseman Joe Khoury, senior shortstop Quillen Austria, senior outfielder/designated hitter Kyle Daugenti and senior second baseman David Bodziony, the growth that accompanies a new spring is a much smoother process.

"There were a couple of situational things early in the game where we missed a sign and didn't do things that we had worked hard on," said Coach Ganor. "So that has to be cleaned up, that is unacceptable. But all in all, I thought it was a good effort. Taking it one step at a time and seeing the big picture, I think we're doing a good job of that right now. It's too early to get hyped up about a win and too early to get hyped up about a loss."

In what was a pitchers' dual early on between Margevicius and Archbishop Hoban's crafty sophomore left-hander Drew Kline, Saint Ignatius clung to a 1-0 lead through three innings. The Wildcats' first run came off a one-out walk by promising sophomore third baseman Dennis Grosel, a two-out stolen base by Grosel, a walk to Austria, an errant pick-off attempt at second base and an error off a ground ball to the right side.

The 'Cats made it 2-0 in the top of the fourth as Panstares led off by lining a single into left field. With one out, Bodziony slapped a single into short right field. Bodziony's hit was followed by a double steal and after Daugenti was hit by a pitch with two outs, Fabian drew a bases-loaded walk.

Following an outstanding diving catch by Skuhrovec in the bottom of the fourth, Coach Ganor and his veteran staff of T.J. Donovan '94, Matt Blazer '94, Mark Terlep and Josh Bieneman watched their Wildcats get to the Knights' bullpen and take command in the top of the fifth.

Skuhrovec's defensive gem came after Archbishop Hoban's rock-solid senior catcher Jordan Burns led off the bottom of the fourth with a double to deep left-center field.

The damage in the top of the fifth, which we described in the lead-in to tonight's story, was started when Longo, a Miami of Ohio recruit, lead off with a walk and went from first to third on a single by Khoury. A Mount Union recruit, Khoury is one of the most underrated players in Northeast Ohio.

Two other key elements in Saint Ignatius pushing its lead to 7-0 in the fifth were Grosel drawing his second base on balls and a two-out wild pitch that helped set the stage for Fabian's two-out RBI single.

Margevicius then pitched into the fifth before being relieved by junior right-hander Luke Diggs, who pitched 1 and 1/3 innings of hitless baseball, including a five-pitch bottom of the sixth that saw Luke start a 1-6-3 double play that ended with one of Khoury's smooth picks at first base.

The Knights avoided a shutout by scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh. The game ended on a heads-up defensive play by Saint Ignatius' junior middle infielder Jake Kucia, who backed up a grounder to the left side that got by the third baseman and fired a throw home to senior catcher Pat Gulick, who applied a text-book tag.

"It felt great to just get back out there," said Margevicius, who gave himself a B+ for his opening day performance. "Great weather, a great day to play baseball. My fastball was working today and that is something I'm focusing on, establishing it as the season goes on. I get a little off-speed happy at times. So the fastball was good and the change-up worked too.

"I made some mistakes and missed my spots with a few pitches," continued the Ryder University recruit. "But all in all, I thought it was a pretty good day."

Weather permitting, Saint Ignatius will return to Archbishop Hoban on Wednesday at 4:30 PM for the second of what is a two-game series. Junior MJ Nara, who was a mainstay out of the bullpen last spring, will get the starting assignment.  

DOUBLEHEADER IN CHILLICOTHE CANCELLED
3/29/2014

Posted by Brendan DeVenney '17

Officials in Chillicothe, Ohio have decided to postpone both games between Archbishop Moeller and Bishop Watterson part of the "We Can Play" First Pitch Classic at V.A. Memorial Stadium due to inclement weather and unplayable conidtions. So Saint Ignatius will have to wait until Wednesday afternoon to get their season underway when they play Archbishop Hoban at Hoban High School. There has been no word if the games will be made up. 

Saint Ignatius vs. Bishop Watterson cancelled
3/29/2014

Posted by Brendan DeVenney '17

Due to inclement weather in Chillicothe, Ohio, the second game of the Wildcats doubleheader in the "We Can Play" First Pitch Classic at V.A. Memorial Stadium has been cancelled. The fields are not in playable conditions. However the first game against defending State Champion Archbishop Moeller is still on as of now. Prior games, which include Saint Edward playing Gahanna Lincoln and Archbishop Moeller, have been pushed back. First pitch for Saint Ignatius will most likely be at 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. Remember the Saint Ignatius Broadcasting Network will being you the action between the Wildcats and Crusaders. 

2014 Wildcat Baseball Season Preview: Unfinished Business
3/20/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright March 2014

A SPECIAL BLEND OF “TRUST” AND TALENT

Coach Brad Ganor’s 2014 Varsity Baseball Wildcats, who will feature a blend of big-game tested veterans and inexperienced at the top level, but extremely talented underclassmen, are looking to improve upon a 2013 season that saw them win 22 of their last 24 games, including 13 in a row, finish as the Division I state runner-up to current two-time defending big-school state champion Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller and compile a final record of 27-7.

Helping show the way will be one of the premier outfields in the state – senior left fielder Shane Skuhrovec, senior center fielder and West Virginia recruit Nick Fabian and senior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo – a predominately young, but deep pitching staff headed by senior southpaw and Rider University recruit Nick Margevicius, who went 9-1 last spring, junior right-hander MJ Nara and junior catcher Alex Panstares, who as sophomores emerged big time during the Wildcats’ run to the state championship game, and an infield anchored by senior first baseman and Mount Union recruit Joe Khoury, senior shortstop Quillen Austria and senior second
baseman David Bodziony.

Senior outfielder/designated hitter Kyle Daugenti, senior infielder/designated hitter/relief pitcher Bennett Kinzel, senior
catcher/designated hitter Patrick Gulick, junior outfielder and savvy base runner Sam Fuller, senior infielder Ryan Cooper, junior left-handed pitchers Brendan Adler and Dylan Smolen and promising junior right-hander Luke Diggs
are among the chairmen of Coach Ganor’s quality depth department.

Also, keep an eye on the hot corner where sophomore Dennis Grosel is making a significant impression in what has been a battle for the starting nod. Dennis, formerly a catcher in Coach Ganor’s program, is expected to be a main competitor for the role as the starting varsity quarterback this fall.

Saint Ignatius will be facing one of the most challenging schedules in what will be Coach Ganor’s 10th season as the Wildcats’ skipper. The ‘Cats open their “spring” with a doubleheader on March 29 at the “We Can Play” tournament in Chillicothe, Ohio. Saint Ignatius will face another highly touted Archbishop Moeller team at 3:30 PM in Chillicothe’s atmosphere-rich V.A. Memorial Stadium and the nightcap will match the Wildcats and the Eagles from Columbus Bishop Watterson at 6:30.

The Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network is expected to be on hand to bring you the games live from Chillicothe. Time Warner Cable SportsChannel will televise the Wildcats-Moeller match up and this old-timer will chart the action in Irish shorthand from one of the dugouts in V.A. Memorial Stadium. It’s March, so I vote for the sun-drenched dugout, which I believe resided along the first-base line last year. Of course, that is if an early spring sun makes an encore appearance in Chillicothe.

In what was a key turning point in 2013, Saint Ignatius took a 0-2 record into the “We Can Play” tournament and left Chillicothe with impressive victories over Bishop Watterson and a highly regarded Grove City program.

The 2014 slate will include a trip to Maryland over the Easter Break, as the Wildcats will face three of the better teams the Old Line State has to offer – Calvert Hall on April 21 at 7 PM, Riverdale Baptist on April 22 at 4:30 PM and Archbishop Curley on April 23 at 4:30 PM.

Upon returning from Maryland, Saint Ignatius will gear up for the annual Ohio Jesuit Tournament at Walsh Jesuit on April 26 and 27. The traditional encounter with rival St. Edward will take place on May 2 at All Pro Freight Stadium, with the first pitch scheduled for 5 PM.

LET’S PLAY THREE: In what is a great touch that Coach Ganor brought to the Wildcats’ yearly schedules, the games versus Stow (at Stow on April 5), Lakewood (at First Federal Lakewood Stadium on May 10) and Ashland (at Baldwin Wallace University on May 17) are all triple headers - varsity, junior varsity and freshmen. For a look at Saint Ignatius’ spring slate, go to ignatius.edu, click on athletics and click on baseball.

Now that you have a taste of where some of the regular season challenges will come from, the corner would like to share with you the comments from Coach Ganor and some of his leaders, as they took time out to talk Wildcats baseball with a former West Denison League catcher. Ah, those memorable walks home from games at Navy Park to West 103rd and the Dairy Dell that stood on the corner across the street from the old A&P grocery store and Saint Ignatius of Antioch. The days before the construction of I-90 took its toll on those great neighborhood streets.

FROM JOE KHOURY, who brings a more than capable bat to the plate and a glove at first base that would make “Donnie Baseball” smile: “Outfield,” said Joe, when asked what was one of the obvious strengths of the 2014 Wildcats. “We’re going to have one of the best outfields in the state. At middle infield, hopefully we will be able to step up there. Obviously we have big shoes to fill (with the graduation of mainstays Tyler Finkler at shortstop and Dan Rowbottom at second base). Alex Panstares, our catcher, is going to be hopefully a stud again. As for our hitting, we’ve worked with Coach (Josh) Bieneman on smart hitting and timely hitting, knowing your counts and what pitches to look for. We have to improve on that.”

FROM NICK MARGEVICIUS, a Special Mention Plain Dealer All-Star in 2013: “Pitching wise, I think we’re inexperienced. Some of the younger guys are really going to have to step up and give us a lot of innings.” Nick emphasized that he is going to go about his preparation with the same approach he employed during his 9-1 spring of 2013. “We talk about stuff (with the younger players), such as what it’s like in games and the playoffs,” Nick continued. “How to approach the playoffs and how it’s different.”

Nick pointed out how great it is to have three veteran outfielders (Skuhrovec, Fabian and Longo), who are also more than capable to answer the call on the mound – as starters or in relief. Thus, the depth we referred to in the lead in to this preview. Nick and Coach Ganor also emphasized that Nara, an ice-in-his-veins bulldog out of the bullpen last spring, is projected to be a starter this spring.

FROM DAVID BODZIONY, one of Coach Ganor’s undisputed leaders:  “I’m really excited about the infield,” David said. “We’re going to be quick and athletic. Dennis (Grosel) is the young player who has really impressed me. I didn’t get to see much of him during his first year here as a freshman. But I think him getting that opportunity to play on the varsity football team (because of injuries) really helped his mental approach and will allow him to step up and help us this year. I’m looking forward to seeing how this infield plays behind these pitchers.”

NICK FABIAN: A player who can run, catch, hit and throw (a big-time arm) with the best outfielders Ohio has to offer. Nick is moving from left field to center field, where he will be replacing the gritty, leave it all on the field Conor Hennessey ’13. Conor became the Wildcats’ single-season leader in stolen bases with 30 in 2013.

“I have great expectations for this season,” said Nick, who received the Golden Glove Award during this past summer's nationally acclaimed and tradition-rich CABA High School World Series in Euclid. Nick was also a gifted receiver for Coach Chuck Kyle’s varsity football team.

“I am really looking forward to seeing the young guys come through,” Fabian continued. “I think from first-hand experience that they are more of a timid group. I think we were, too, coming up to the varsity as juniors last year. That’s both good and bad. They know their place, but at the same time they’re eager to improve and get on with the season. It’s up to the older guys to get them in tune to what varsity baseball is all about. I also think it is good that we brought up those sophomores last year. They can kind of spread their information to the guys in their class as to how to get more comfortable with the environment.”

Fabian emphasized that he is confident the 2014 Wildcats will be a good hitting team, pointing out that Coach Bieneman shared with him that a recent practice was one of the best Hitting Coach Bieneman has seen in five years. That said, Nick pointed out that although it is early, the Wildcats have to continue to work on details such base running and run downs, those little things that always seem to come to the fore in big games.

As far as a defining approach or a motto that the 2014 Wildcats will carry, Fabian said the players are emphasizing a
“better trust” with one another. And that, said Nick, comes from both the interaction in the game and outside the game. It is, he added, a way of becoming better teammates and assists in the way the players react to the coaches and the coaches react to the players.

FROM COACH GANOR: “I think there is a lot of experience returning, as far as the starting pitchers go,” said Coach Ganor, who enters his 10th season at Cleveland’s Jesuit Preparatory School with 203 career victories. Saint Ignatius has made four state final four appearances under Coach Ganor, including a school-best three in a row in 2007, '08 and '09. Coach Ganor's 2008 team was also a state runner-up. Brad, who took over as the Wildcats' head coach in 2005, was an assistant on Coach Brian Morgan's 2002 Division I state championship team, 2000 state runner-up team and
2004 state-semifinalist club. Coach Ganor is the Director of Saint Ignatius' Walton Center for Learning.

“There are seven pitchers who all have varsity experience,” Coach Ganor continued. “And Luke Diggs is expected to come in and do what Nick (Margevicius) did last year. We didn’t know we were going to get 9-1 out of Nick last year and if we get 9-1 out of Luke this year, I’ll take it. I’ll take 6-1. We have 15 varsity players returning from last year’s team, with all of them having game experience.

“Even though we have to fill up the middle (shortstop and second base), Quillen Austria and David Bodziony were on the varsity last year and they have game experience,” Coach Ganor said. “I feel very comfortable starting the season that way. Of course the outfield is solid and then you have a junior catcher (Alex Panstares) back that started every big
game as a sophomore and is kind of the leader of the defense behind the plate. And I don’t look at Dennis Grosel as a sophomore. He’s big-game tested in another sport and just doesn’t carry himself as a sophomore.

“The sky’s the limit,” added Coach Ganor. “There is no guarantee that Moeller is going to be playing on the last day of
the season and there is no guarantee that we’re going to be playing on the last day of the season. But I’ll take my team and take my chances, because we’re pretty excited about it. If we play to our potential, we’re going to be very good. The moniker of the season, sort of speak, is to trust yourself, trust your teammates and trust your coaches. And we trust them because they’re good enough to be here.”

A NOTE OF INTEREST OR TRIVIA ON COACH GANOR: Last spring, Coach Ganor became the last baseball coach from the seven-county area to be selected as The Coach of the Year by “The Plain Dealer High School Staff.” Shortly after Coach Ganor’s selection and the selection of the other 2013 spring sports Coaches of the Year, the high school coverage was changed to the Cleveland.Com/Northeast Ohio Media Group designation.

The three Nicks (Fabian, Margevicius, and Longo) sign on National Signing Day
2/5/2014

By Brendan DeVenney '17

The annual National Signing Day took place in the Breen Center for the Performing Arts Wednesday after school, and three baseball stars were on stage among 13 other student athletes. Nick Fabian, Nick Margecivius, and Nick Longo signed their letters of intent in front of family, friends, classmates, and media on the Breen Center stage and fully committed to their colleges and universities of their choice. Fabian will be heading to West Virginia University in the fall to play for the Mountaineers. Margecivius will play for the Broncs of Rider University. Rider is a Division I school in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. And Longo will be playing for Miami (OH) as a Redhawk in the spring of 2015. It's ironic because these three young men were probably thinking about playing in college when they signed Wednesday. But it's only February of their senior year which means they still have another season of Wildcat baseball to play. They were key players in the state championship run last year, so let's see if they can bring the same power and enthusiasm to the team this year like in 2013.  

Inaugural Saint Ignatius Invitational Baseball Tournament
9/23/2013

Ages: 12U and 13U

Friday, June 20 - Sunday, June 22

Bohlken Park - Fairview Park, OH

$400 per team (Guaranteed 4 games)

Limit of 8 teams per age group

For more information and to reserve your spot call Joe Dorocak (216) 798-5733 or Kirby Becker (216) 956-1423.

We're talking some baseball - Nick Margevicius is going to be a Rider Bronc.
9/3/2013

Posted Eddie Dwyer

Ohio City - Congratulations from the corner go out to Saint Ignatius' gifted southpaw Nick Margevicius '14, who has accepted a baseball scholarship from Rider University.

Located in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, Rider is a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Nick, whose 9-1 record helped Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats to a Division I state runner-up finish this past spring, garnered Special Mention on The Plain Dealer's seven-county All-Star Team.

This coming season, Nick will join fellow senior and West Virginia recruit Nick Fabian as two of Coach Ganor's three captains.

Again, congrats to Nick, his family and the entire Saint Ignatius baseball program.

Here is an early look at the Wildcats' 2014 baseball schedule, as it currently stands.

Date                Opponent                                Location                      Time

3/29                 @Archbishop Moeller         Chillicothe                  3:30pm

3/29                 @Bishop Watterson            Chillicothe                   6:30pm

4/1                   @Aurora                             Aurora                         4:30pm

4/3                   Eastlake North                    Baldwin Wallace         5:00pm

4/5                   @Stow                                Stow High School       2:00pm

4/7                   @Amherst                          Amherst High School  4:30pm

4/9                   St. Vincent-St. Mary          Classic Park                 4:30pm

4/10                 Nordonia                            Classic Park                 4:30pm

4/12                 Willoughby South              Classic Park                 2:00pm

4/14                 Massillon                            Baldwin Wallace         5:00pm

4/15                 @Massillon Jackson          Jackson HS                  5:00pm

4/17                 @Strongsville                    Strongsville HS           4:30pm

4/21                 @Calvert Hall, MD           Calvert Hall HS           7:00pm

4/22                 TBD                              

4/23                @Archbishop Curley, MD  Curley HS                 4:30pm

4/24                 TBD

4/26-27            Ohio Jesuit Tournament at Walsh Jesuit

5/1                   Tallmadge  Baldwin Wallace  5:00pm

5/2                   @St. Edward  All-Pro Freight Stadium  5:00pm

5/3                   TBD

5/5                   Garfield Hts.  Baldwin Wallace 4:30pm

5/8                   North Ridgeville  Baldwin Wallace 4:30pm

5/9                   Canton Central Catholic  CCC HS  5:00pm

5/10                 Lakewood  Lakewood First Federal Stadium  4:00pm

5/13                 Kenston  Classic Park  4:30pm

5/17                 Ashland  Baldwin Wallace  4:00pm

Note: The Stow, Lakewood and Ashland games are all triple headers - varsity, junior varsity and freshman - and the Archbishop Moeller and Bishop Watterson games are part of the "We Can Play" tournament in Chillicothe. The Moeller game will be televised by Time Warner Cable.

 

Nick Fabian accepts a baseball scholarship from West Virginia!
8/14/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2013

Brooklyn, Ohio - A huge congratulations goes out from the corner to Saint Ignatius' multi-skilled senior athlete Nick Fabian, who has accepted a baseball scholarship from the Mountaineers of West Virginia.

Nick was also being recruited by the baseball program from The Ohio State University, among others.

A player with five-tool type skills, Nick helped lead Coach Brand Ganor's Wildcats to a Division I state runner-up finish this past spring.

An outstanding outfielder with a big-time throwing arm, Nick received the Golden Glove Award during this summer's nationally acclaimed and tradition-rich CABA High School World Series in Euclid. Nick is also a solid hitter and he did some key work as a pitcher for Coach Ganor.

Nick, one of nearly 60 players under Coach Ganor's tutelage to earn the opportunity to play baseball at the next level, is currently a member of the Wildcats' gifted varsity football receiving corps.

Again, congratulations to Nick, his family, Coach Ganor and the entire Saint Ignatius baseball program.  

Brad Ganor garners Plain Dealer Baseball Coach of the Year honors.
7/6/2013

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

Congratulations from the corner go out to Saint Ignatius' Brad Ganor, who has been selected by The Plain Dealer as its Coach of the Year on the seven-county All-Star Baseball Team. The team was officially released late Friday afternoon.

The corner also congratulates three-year varsity mainstay and Illinois recruit Dan Rowbottom '13 and standout left-handed pitcher Nick Margevicius '14, who received Special Mention from The PD. Dan was a standout hitter and middle infielder and also served as one of Saint Ignatius' captains this past spring. Nick, who was Mr. Reliable during the tremendous run to Columbus, has been selected as one of the captains for 2014.  

Coach Ganor completed his ninth season as the Wildcats' skipper by guiding his team to a 27-7 record and a Division I state runner-up finish. The 'Cats advanced to the title game match up with eventual state champion Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller by winning 22 of 23 games, including 13 consecutive triumphs.

Saint Ignatius has made four state final four appearances under Coach Ganor, including a school-best three in a row in 2007, '08 and '09. Coach Ganor's 2008 team was also a state runner-up. Brad, who took over as the Wildcats' head coach in 2005, was an assistant on Coach Brian Morgan's 2002 Division I state championship team, 2000 state runner-up team and 2004 state-semifinalist club.

Coach Ganor, who is the Director of Saint Ignatius' Walton Center for Learning, will enter his 10th season in Ohio City with 203 career victories.

Again, congrats to Brad, Dan and Nick, and the entire Saint Ignatius baseball program.

A Season of Memories for Saint Ignatius Baseball is Celebrated with Season Honors
6/11/2013

Posted by Eddie Dwyer

BASEBALL: Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats completed their outstanding Division I state runner-up season with a 27-7 record, a mark that included a stretch that saw the 'Cats advance to the state championship game by winning 22 of 23 games, including a 13-game winning streak.

Here are some of Coach Ganor's special young men.

Offensive Player of the Year: Senior captain, second baseman and Illinois recruit Dan Rowbottom.

Defensive Players of the Year: Senior captain, shortstop and Ohio University recruit Tyler Finkler and junior left fielder/center fielder Nick Fabian.

Pitchers of the Year: Senior left-hander Tom Rolle (6-0) and junior southpaw Nick Margevicius (9-1).

Captains Awards: Senior center fielder/designated hitter Conor Hennessey, senior right-handed pitcher Kyle Pluta, Dan Rowbottom and Tyler Finkler.

The Coaches' Cups: Senior third baseman Cole Nieto, junior outfielder/pitcher/infielder Shane Skuhrovec and Conor Hennessey. NOTE: Conor set a single-season school record with 30 stolen bases. He was 30-for-34. Coach Ganor's team set a single-season team mark of 124 stolen bases.

2014 Captains: Nick Fabian and Nick Margevicius, with a third captain to be announced at a later date.

The Wildcats' outstanding baseball season comes to an end with a 7-1 loss to now seven-time state champion Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller.
6/10/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright June 2013

With two outs and the bases empty, Moeller scores three times in the bottom of the second inning. The Wildcats answer with a run in the top of third, but the talented and opportunistic Crusaders (32-2), who are 7-0 in state championship baseball games, moved to a 4-1 lead after three innings and began to take control with two more runs in the bottom of the fourth. That was more than enough support for junior left-hander Zach Logue, who fired a two-hitter in finishing 8-1 on the season.

Saint Ignatius (27-7), which was appearing in its fourth state championship game in what was its 11th trip to baseball's final four, closed its remarkable spring by winning 22 of its last 24 games. The Wildcats were the Division I state champions in 2002 and also finished as the big-school runner-up in 2000 and 2008.

Columbus, Ohio - As he stood on the top step of the visitors' dugout and watched the grounds crew put Huntington Park to bed early Sunday evening, Saint Ignatius senior captain Conor Hennessey wore that familiar gritty expression - a look that in so many ways defined what the 2013 Saint Ignatius varsity baseball team was all about.

No, not even a setback in the biggest game of his high school baseball career was going to dent Conor's undying and unflappable support for his teammates and the school he loves.

"Right now, there's a bitter taste because we didn't do what we set out to do," Hennessey said, just moments after the Wildcats were defeated by Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller, 7-1, in the OHSAA Division I state championship game. "But these guys will be my best friends for the rest of my life, that's all that matters."

With Hennessey and fellow senior captains Dan Rowbottom, Tyler Finkler and Kyle Pluta helping show the way, Saint Ignatius made it a season that mattered at a time when the doubters were expressing their less-than-baseball-savvy opinions.

A team that stood at .500 through its first 10 games, Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats went on to win 22 of their next 23 games, including 13 in a row, and earned the right to face now seven-time state champion Archbishop Moeller. Moeller entered Sunday's game ranked second in the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association's big-school state poll and Saint Ignatius was ranked 17th.

In a game that matched perennial powers who previously split four state semifinal encounters (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2009), the Crusaders of Coach Tim Held took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. All of the early damage came with two outs and the bases empty.

Fueling Moeller's offense were the seventh, eighth and ninth hitters in its order.

Right fielder Nick Meece started the two-out surge by slapping a double down the left-field line. Meece came around to score when a slow chopper off the bat of third baseman Patrick McAlpine resulted in a throwing error that saw the ball end up in the Crusaders' dugout. McAlpine, who was awarded second base on the errant throw, scored on a single to center field by the nine-hole hitter - left fielder Brian Butz.

Moeller's All-Ohio junior shortstop and lead-off hitter Riley Mahan would follow Butz with a single to left and center fielder Justin Wampler made it a 3-0 game with a base hit up the middle.

Coach Ganor, who guided Saint Ignatius to a school-record three consecutive final fours in 2007, '08 and '09, watched his team cut the deficit to 3-1 in the top of the third. The 'Cats combined a leadoff walk to sophomore catcher Alex Panstares, an error and a sacrifice fly by Finkler into what turned out to be their only run.

After Hennessey lined a single to right-center field, Saint Ignatius had an opportunity to do more damage in the top of the third. However, with runners on second and third and two outs, Moeller first baseman Spencer Iacovone made nice running over-the-shoulder, one-handed catch in foul territory near the Crusaders' bullpen pitching mound.

At that point, Moeller's gifted junior southpaw Zach Logue had all the support he needed. En route to his eighth victory in nine decisions, Logue yielded just two hits, three walks and an unearned run in going the distance. He had four strikeouts.

The Crusaders, who became the first Ohio school since Canton GlenOak (1995 and '96) to win consecutive Division I state baseball championships, pushed their lead to 4-1 bottom of the third off a two-out single by McAlpine with runners on second and third. Only a great throw from center field by Saint Ignatius' five-tool junior Nick Fabian and a picture-perfect catch and tag by Panstares prevented McAlpine from having a two-run base hit.  

Moeller, which outscored its seven tournament opponents by a combined 82-8, took advantage of walks and wild pitches in building a 6-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Coach Held's team added some fifth-inning insurance behind a leadoff base hit by second baseman Max Foley, a sacrifice bunt by Meece, a walk, a stolen base by Foley, another walk and a hit batsman with two outs and the bases loaded.

"To say that I have won one (state championship) is an honor," said Hennessey, who was a standout wide receiver and kick returner on Saint Ignatius' record 11th Division I state champion football team of 2011. "And to say that I played for another with some of my best friends is a privilege. It's an honor for all of us to say that we came down here and played in this game and the final four. It's something that just doesn't happen."

And Coach Ganor, who will enter his 10th season as Saint Ignatius' skipper next spring with 197 career victories, considers it an honor and a privilege to have guided the baseball-skilled, resilient and tough-minded Wildcats of 2013.

"They're very good and I give them a lot of credit for making us pay for our mistakes," Coach Ganor said of Moeller. "But, as I told the kids, getting here is not easy. I've been coaching long enough to know that there are a lot of great teams that never made it here (the state final four).

"This team is special," continued Coach Ganor in reference to his 2013 'Cats. "As I reminded them in the dugout, the seniors have graduated, in my opinion, from one of the finest schools in the country. And nobody can ever take that away from them. Being in the top two in the state is pretty special and, although this is going to sting for a little bit, they have created memories that are going to last for a lifetime." 

 

Dan Rowbottom's two-run triple in the sixth, an outstanding defensive play by Shane Skuhrovec and Alex Panstares and another gutsy effort out of the bullpen by MJ Nara lead the Wildcats past Gahanna Lincoln, 7-5, in Saturday's Division I state semifinals.
6/8/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright June 2013

Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats (27-6), now winners of 22 of their past 23 games, including 13 consecutive victories, will face defending big-school state champion Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (31-2) in Sunday's Division I State Championship Baseball Game at atmosphere-rich Huntington Park. The first pitch will be 3 PM and veterans John Fanta '13 and Greg Ziton '13, who will be closing out their outstanding broadcasting careers at Saint Ignatius, will bring you the pitch by pitch over the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network.

Moeller, ranked second in the coaches' state poll, advanced by defeating Aurora, 13-1, in Saturday's other semifinal. Gahanna Lincoln and Aurora, which were making their first state final four appearances in baseball, ended their seasons at 22-10 and 28-5, respectively.

Along with Dan Rowbottom's difference maker, which came with one out in the top of the sixth inning, Saint Ignatius was treated to dig-down-deep efforts by starting pitcher Tom Rolle and relievers Kyle Pluta (winning pitcher) and MJ Nara, a 2-for-3, one RBI performance from Shane Skuhrovec, two hits, an RBI and two stolen bases by Conor Hennessey, a 2-for-4 day by Tyler Finkler and a hit and an RBI by Cole Nieto.

Columbus, Ohio - As he stood in the runway behind the visitors' dugout, Saint Ignatius' big-hearted reliever MJ Nara was as calm as the smooth breeze that crossed over Huntington Park on Saturday afternoon.

About a half hour earlier, Nara was, as he said, "a little nervous." Wildcats head baseball coach Brad Ganor would later tell reporters that it was more than just a little case of the nerves. "He was breathing through his mouth instead of his nose," said a smiling Coach Ganor.

Shaking off the jitters that would accompany any sophomore called on to save a state-semifinal victory, Nara reared back and started throwing those familiar pitches, you know, the ones that literally knock his cap off.

Pitching two scoreless and hitless innings after coming on to start the bottom of the sixth, Nara struck out two to end the sixth and ended the game in the bottom of the seventh with what was his fourth strikeout, as Coach Ganor's Wildcats turned away a capable Gahanna Lincoln team, 7-5, in a Division I state semifinal match up.

Saint Ignatius (27-6), which was a .500 club in mid April, will return to Huntington Park on Sunday for the big-school state championship game against Ohio's defending Division I champs - the 31-2 Crusaders from Archbishop Moeller. Junior southpaw Nick Margevicius (9-0) will take the mound for Coach Ganor in what will be the Wildcat's first title-game appearance since 2008.

Saint Ignatius has advanced to the final four 11 times in baseball, was the Division I state champion in 2002 and a big-school state runner-up in 2000 and 2008. Coach Ganor guided the 'Cats to a school-record three consecutive final four appearances in 2007, '08 and '09.

Moeller, whose impressive list of baseball alumni includes two guys you might have heard of - Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin - will be seeking its seventh state baseball championship. Since 2000, the Crusaders and the Wildcats have split four state-semifinal encounters. They last met in a 2009 semifinal, with Moeller winning, 6-0.

So, did any of these impressive numbers begin to cross Nara's mind when Coach Ganor pointed a finger in his direction late Saturday afternoon and said: "Let's go!"

"It's a special thing for a sophomore," Nara said, while emphasizing how happy he was to be able to come through for the seniors. "They have a lot of trust in me. I had to buckle down and do the job. We're a family, we work together as a unit."

Nara's closing act, which featured moving his two-seam and four-seam fastballs in and out, complemented a decisive top of the sixth inning that featured another clutch hit by one of Saint Ignatius' senior leaders - captain, second baseman and Illinois recruit Dan Rowbottom.

After Gahanna Lincoln rallied from a 5-2 deficit and tied the score with a three-run bottom of the fifth, the Wildcats, as veteran assistant coach Matt Blazer put it so well, unleashed their battle-tested mentality.

 Junior left fielder Shane Skuhrovec, who ended the bottom of the third with a powerful throw to home plate that saw sophomore catcher Alex Panstares make a nice catch of the hop strike and apply the tag, led off the sixth with his second base hit of the day.

Junior infielder and pinch hitter Quillen Austria was hit by a pitch and a passed ball moved junior outfielder Kyle Daugenti, who was pinch running for Skuhrovec, and Austria to third and second base, respectively,

With one out, Rowbottom, a three-year varsity mainstay, sent a 3-2 pitch soaring to deep right field for a two-run triple and Nara took over from there.

"The first two guys getting on, that's huge," Rowbottom said. "My goal was to just get something to the outfield deep enough to score a run. That game was a battle that honestly could have gone either way. But I am real happy with how we responded. Tom Rolle (Wildcats standout senior left-handed starter) didn't have his best stuff, but he battled for nearly five innings.

"I want that ring (on Sunday)," Rowbottom continued. "This is my last time wearing the blue and gold. We have to get it, we're going to get it."

After presenting their 22-year head coach Mike Shade with his first regional championship last weekend, the Lions of Lincoln gave their faithful plenty to roar about on Saturday afternoon.

Following an RBI single by senior designated hitter Conor Hennessey that put the Wildcats in front, 1-0, in the top of the first inning, the Lions tied the score in the bottom of the frame on a walk, a wild pitch and a two-out throwing error.

After Lincoln moved to 2-1 lead after two innings, Saint Ignatius answered with a four-run top of the third that was highlighted by RBI singles from senior third baseman Cole Nieto and Skuhrovec.

Run-scoring base hits by Christian Chiero and Alex Delp fueled the Lions' three-run fifth and set the stage for Rowbottom's decisive blow.

Like Coach Ganor, Coach Shade was treated to a leave-it-all-on-the-field effort by his starting pitcher Alec Tuohy. Tuohy threw 101 pitches, including 63 for strikes, in five complete innings of work.

"We have our work cut out for us," Coach Ganor said of Sunday's match up with Moeller. "There are other teams that have been ranked high (by the coaches association) that I don't know if they truly are highly ranked teams. But Moeller is definitely a true highly ranked team. We have a lot of respect for them and I have a lot of respect for Tim (Crusaders head coach Tim Held). I think he does a great job. But we'll be ready."

IN THE HOUSE: Taking in the Wildcats' state-semifinal victory was former Saint Ignatius two-time All-Ohio and Parade All-American quarterback Joe Pickens '90. Joe, a prominent lawyer in Columbus, was the starting quarterback for the 'Cats' first two state champion football teams of 1988 and 1989 and the national champion team of '89. And what many don't recall is that Joe, a big baseball fan, was a mainstay in the Wildcats' pitching rotation during his outstanding athletic career at the Jesuit Preparatory School in Cleveland.  

 

Coach Brad Ganor's Team Awaits Saturday, Luke Farrell '09 Selected in MLB Draft
6/7/2013

Posted by Eddie Dwyer

WE'RE TALKING BASEBALL: Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats (26-6) finished another practice at Dublin Jerome High School late this morning in preparation for Saturday's 1 PM state semifinal match up with Gahanna Lincoln  (22-9) in Huntington Park.

The morning started with Mass in one of the conference  rooms at the beautiful COURTYARD Marriott, as Saint Ignatius President, Rev. William J. Murphy, S.J., directed an outstanding Homily to the Wildcats and their approach to this big weekend.

If successful on Saturday, Coach Ganor's team will advance to Sunday's state championship game against the winner of Saturday's other Division I semifinal between defending state champion Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (29-2) and Aurora (28-4). The first pitch on Sunday will be 3 PM from Huntington Park.

John Fanta '13 and his SIBN crew will bring you every pitch this weekend live over the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network.

****Former Saint Ignatius pitching standout Luke Farrell '09, who was recently honored by The Big Ten and Northwestern University (see the corner's story from Thursday), was drafted by the Kansas Royals on Friday as a sixth-round pick, the 174th selection overall. Again, congratulations to Luke, his family, Coach Ganor and the entire Saint Ignatius baseball program.

The corner will be back with track updates, but for now let me say THANK YOU to the kind folks at Dublin Jerome High School. I had a great conversation with the gracious concession stand staff, who filled me in on a lot of Dublin and Columbus area history.

 

Wildcat baseball postponed until Saturday and Sunday
6/6/2013

By Eddie Dwyer

Columbus, Ohio - Due to a persistent rain that hit the area on Thursday afternoon, the Ohio High School Athletic Association has had to juggle its state semifinal and final baseball schedules.

Be advised that the state semifinal match up between Coach Brad Ganor's Saint Ignatius Wildcats (26-6) and the Lions from Gahanna Lincoln (22-9) has been postponed until Saturday at 1 PM in Huntington Park.

If the Wildcats are successful on Saturday, they will return to Huntington Park on Sunday for the 3 PM Division I state championship game against the winner of the other big-school semifinal between defending state champ Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (29-2) and Aurora (28-4). Moeller and Aurora will play their semifinal on Saturday at 10 AM.

Once again, the Wildcats will now be playing their semifinal on Saturday at 1 PM and, if successful on Saturday, will play in the Division I state championship game on Sunday at 3 PM.

The Saint Ignatius baseball team, the Corner and the SIBN arrived in Columbus on Thursday in anticipation of a Friday night semifinal and will remain in the State Capital until the gold trophy is secured on Sunday.

In case of any emergencies, we are staying at the Courtyard Marriott.

LUKE FARRELL GARNERS SPECIAL BIG TEN AWARD: Former Saint Ignatius pitching standout Luke Farrell has received the Big Ten Medal of Honor for his on-field baseball and classroom work at Northwestern University.

Luke becomes the second Saint Ignatius alum in recent years to win the award, as former Wildcats standout soccer player Mark Blades received the same honor in 2010.

Congratulations from the corner to Luke and the entire Farrell family. Luke is a son of Boston Red Sox Manager John Farrell. 

State Baseball Schedule Changes Due to Inclement Weather
6/6/2013

Due to rain today in Columbus the State Div I Baseball Tournament games have been rescheduled.  The State Semifinal Game bewteen Saint Ignatius and Gahanna Lincoln is now scheduled for Saturday, June 8 at 1 pm and the State Final is now scheduled for 3 pm on Sunday, June 9.

The other State Seminfinal between Cincinnati Moeller and Aurora will played Saturday at 10 am.

 

Saint Ignatius Baseball Makes First Final Four Appearance Since 2009 Against Gahanna Lincoln on Friday
6/3/2013

BASEBALL: Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats are coming off one of the most complete and dominant performances in the program's rich history, a 14-0, run-rule triumph over Toledo St. Francis de Sales in Sunday's Division I regional final on Ron Mottl Field at Cuyahoga Community College-West. The fourth-ranked team in the state went home with just its third loss in 32 games (see the corner's story from Sunday evening).

Saint Ignatius (26-6), which has won 12 consecutive games and 21 of its past 22, will be making its 11th appearance in the state baseball final four and the fourth under Coach Ganor when it faces Gahanna Lincoln (22-9) on Friday night at 7 in a state semifinal match up at Huntington Park in Columbus. The Wildcats captured the big-school state championship in 2002 and were state runners-up in 2000 and 2008.

Now in his ninth season as the 'Cats' skipper, Coach Ganor (196-65) guided Saint Ignatius to a school record three consecutive state final fours in 2007, '08 and '09. Coach Ganor was an assistant on Brian Morgan's 2002 state championship team and 2000 state runner-up club.

"Getting there is tough," Coach Ganor said of reaching the final four. 'We've been there four times in my tenure, but there were five times that we didn't get there with talented teams. It just shows that you have to be playing good baseball at the right time." 

Coach Ganor is expected to send senior left-hander Tom Rolle (6-0) to the mound on Friday night and, if successful, turn to junior southpaw Nick Margevicius (9-0) for Saturday's 7 PM championship game. The other half of the Division I semifinals matches defending state champion Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (29-2) against Aurora (28-4). Moeller was ranked second in the final coaches' state poll, Saint Ignatius was 17th and Aurora was 19th. Gahanna Lincoln did not crack the poll.

Here is a look at Gahanna Lincoln, Archbishop Moeller and Aurora and how they earned their final four status.

 

Gahanna Lincoln: Making their fourth regional appearance since 2008, the Lions treated 22-year head coach Mike Shade to his first state final four by defeating Hilliard Darby, 8-1, in a regional final in Dublin. That's Ohio, not Ireland.

The story of the game was sophomore pitcher Mason Daniels, who fired a three-hitter and struck out four. And he had to do it over two days after the game was suspended by rain in the top of the fifth inning on Friday night. Daniels threw 55 pitches on Friday and 57 on Saturday.

Senior Alec Tuohy helped key the Lions' offense. Tuohy's two-run double, one of his three hits in five plate appearances, fueled a five-run fifth inning.

As was the case with Saint Ignatius on Sunday (again see the corner's story from Sunday), Gahanna Lincoln's seniors had to balance baseball and graduation on Saturday. The Lions graduated at 10 AM in Value City Arena and then rushed off to take batting practice.

The Lions and the Wildcats have some final four history, but obviously not in baseball. In the fall of 2009, Gahanna Lincoln defeated Saint Ignatius, 1-0 (shootout), in the Division I state championship soccer game.

Aurora: Senior catcher Frank Sivillo scored from first on a base hit down the right-field line by sophomore third baseman Nick Ely and the Greenmen earned their first final four berth in baseball by defeating Mentor, 2-1, in a regional final in Canton. The trip to Columbus comes under the direction of first-year head varsity coach Tim Deering.

Coach Deering got a gritty performance from 6-foot-4 senior right-hander Adam Berger (9-1). In going the distance, Berger scattered seven hits, walked two (one intentionally), struck out two and left nine Cardinals stranded. Senior left fielder Tyler Thomas accounted for Aurora's other run with an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning.

Archbishop Moeller: When you have a program that has produced former Major League greats Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin, you almost need no introduction.

The Fighting Crusaders, or the "Men from Moeller," if you will, captured their sixth state baseball championship by defeating Westlake, 9-6, in the 2012 title game. Moeller advanced to yet another final four by dominating its regional competition. The Fighting Crusaders, who have won 17 consecutive games, defeated Lakota East, 10-1, and Northmont, 11-3.

Junior right-hander Gus Ragland (6-0) gave Moeller a resilient performance during the regionals and when you talk 2013 Fighting Crusaders baseball, All-Ohio shortstop Riley Mahan has to be part of the discussion.

Should Moeller and Saint Ignatius advance to the championship game, it wouldn't be a match up of strangers. Since 2000, the Wildcats and the Fighting Crusaders have split four state-semifinal encounters.



STATE BOUND! Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats play a near flawless baseball game en route to a 14-0 victory over Toledo St. Francis de Sales in Sunday's Division I regional final.
6/2/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright June 2013

Saint Ignatius takes total command with a 10-run top of the third and goes on to mercy-rule the state's fourth-ranked team by the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association.

The Wildcats (26-6), now winners of 21 of their past 22 games, advance to Friday's OHSAA Division I state semifinal match up with Gahanna Lincoln (22-9) in Columbus. The first pitch will be 7 PM from Huntington Park.

Coach Ganor and his staff were treated to 14 runs and 16 hits. And that was in just five innings of work, as the game was called after five complete because of the state's run rule. After being suspended on Friday due to heavy rain, lightning and thunder at Case Western Reserve University, the game was moved to Ron Mottl Field on the campus of Cuyahoga Community College-West and resumed Sunday at noon with the Wildcats leading, 1-0, entering the bottom of the first inning.  

The were major contributors up and down Saint Ignatius' lineup, including a three-RBI performance by Nick Fabian and two RBIs each by Tyler Finkler, Dan Rowbottom, Nick Longo, Alex Panstares and Joe Khoury. Senior captains Rowbottom and Finkler both went 3-for-4, Fabian was 3-for-3 and Panstares was 2-for-2 with two triples. The 'Cats had five triples on the afternoon. That was more than enough support for gifted junior left-hander Nick Margevicius, who yielded three hits, two of which were an infield scratch and a shallow single, in improving to 9-0 on the season. Nick threw 64 pitches, 41 for strikes.

The big day was just starting for Coach Brad Ganor's seniors, as they accepted the gold regional championship trophy from the OHSAA and headed off for their 4 PM Graduation Ceremony at The Playhouse Square State Theatre.

Here is the corner's look at Sunday's masterpiece.

Parma Heights, Ohio - The Saint Ignatius Wildcats are obviously a very talented baseball team. Just ask the faithful from Toledo St. Francis de Sales who made the trip to Cuyahoga Community College's Ron Mottl Field for Sunday's high noon Division I regional final showdown with the 'Cats.

Featuring a lineup that is flexible, multi-gifted and down right gritty, the Wildcats took apart the state's fourth-ranked Knights, 14-0, in a game that was called after five innings because of Ohio's mercy rule.

Yes folks, 14-0 in an "elite eight" match up.

When you watch Coach Brad Ganor's team execute, the skills are obvious. However, what has enabled this team to be among Ohio's big-school final four this season is its selfless approach, day in and day out.

And a large portion of the credit for that team-first philosophy goes to Coach Ganor and his staff.

"We're operating on all cylinders," said Coach Ganor, whose Wildcats (26-6) will take a 12-game winning streak into Friday night's Division I state semifinal against Gahanna Lincoln (22-9) in Columbus' Huntington Park. The first pitch is scheduled for 7 PM and Saint Ignatius will be making its fourth final-four appearance under Coach Ganor and its 11th overall.

Coach Ganor was an assistant on the Wildcats' state championship team of 2002 and state runner-up club of 2000, and he guided Saint Ignatius baseball to a school-record three consecutive state final fours in 2007, '08 and '09. Coach Ganor's 2008 team finished as a state runner-up.        

"This team is what they are because these guys work with them on every detail of the game," Coach Ganor said of his assistant coaches T.J. Donovan '94, Matt Blazer '94, Josh Bieneman and Mark Terlep. "There isn't a detail that we overlook. I oversee everything, but T.J., Mark, Matt and Josh are in the trenches working on the pop flies, the 5,000 ground balls that we take and all of the swings and pitches.

"We know we have a great offense," Coach Ganor continued. "But one of the things that we were struggling with was getting too excited before the at-bats in some of the playoff games. The fact that we have learned to calm ourselves is a testament to what this coaching staff is able to do and what our players are capable of."

What Saint Ignatius is capable of came to the fore in the top of the third inning on Sunday.

After a lead off single by junior designated hitter Quillen Austria, a stolen base by Austria and a one-out RBI single by senior second baseman and Illinois recruit Dan Rowbottom pushed the Wildcats' lead to 2-0 in the top of the second, senior third baseman Cole Nieto made a highlight-reel, full extension dive to his left to take away an extra-base hit in the bottom of the second. Cole's effort seemed to add more fire to an already emotional Saint Ignatius dugout.

And that emotion carried over to the batter's box in the top of the third.

Sending 13 batters to the plate, the Wildcats scored 10 runs and the Knights' armor was more than tarnished.

The third-inning barrage started with the bases empty and one out. Junior outfielder Nick Fabian walked on four straight pitches, stole second and scored on an RBI triple to deep left field by junior outfielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo.

A line drive by Nieto off the arm of St. Francis reliever Kenzie Mayo made it a 4-0 game and Austria followed with a hustle double down the third-base line. Sophomore Alex Panstares, one of the promising young catchers in Northeast Ohio, then drove a two-run double to deep right center.

Junior first baseman Joe Khoury, who provides a solid glove at the 3 position and a capable bat in the ninth spot in the order, produced an RBI off an infield single and Rowbottom delivered a run-scoring triple to the fence in right field.

A perfectly executed squeeze bunt by senior shortstop and Ohio University recruit Tyler Finkler pushed the 'Cats' lead to 9-0 and the other big blow in the third was a two-run triple to deep left by Fabian. Fabian, who has five tool skills, then tagged up and scored his team's 12th run off a pop out in foul territory.

Saint Ignatius added some frosting to the victory cake with two runs in the top of the fourth that came courtesy of another triple by Panstares, this time to deep center field, a sacrifice fly by Khoury, a single by Rowbottom and an RBI double by Finkler.

"This is definitely the most emotional game I've been a part of," said Rowbottom, who joins senior center fielder Conor Hennessey, Finkler and senior pitcher Kyle Pluta as Coach Ganor's captains. "We had a little chip on our shoulder and wanted to send these guys home. That 10-run inning, you don't draw that up. That's awesome. They were rattled."

St. Francis, which was picked by The Plain Dealer to eliminate the Wildcats, ended its strong spring at 29-3. 

"I couldn't think of a better way to go to graduation, with the win, the final four trip and seeing the Lax 'Cats get it done yesterday (see the corner's lacrosse story from Saturday)," said Finkler. "And for all of the seniors who were here today, I'm just so happy."

From a regional championship on a great day for baseball to an even bigger moment in their young lives - a graduation ceremony from one of the finest high schools in America - it was, as Dan Rowbottom said, "almost surreal."

NOTE: The corner is going to savor this one for an evening, but we'll be back at the keyboard on Monday evening to take a look at the Wildcats' state-bound baseball, lacrosse and track and field teams in what will be the final "Where The 'Cats Play" for the 2012-13 school year.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF THE SENIORS ON COACH GANOR'S SPECIAL TEAM AND THANK YOU FOR THE KINDNESS, RESPECT AND SPECIAL MEMORIES YOU HAVE GIVEN THIS OLD-TIMER.

'Cats-Knights baseball to resume Sunday at Tri-C West
5/31/2013

By Eddie Dwyer

Cleveland, Ohio - Mother Nature threw her wicked curveball at Friday's Division I regional championship baseball game between Saint Ignatius and Toledo St. Francis de Sales.

After thunder and lightning made their presence known, the game was delayed after the top of the first inning with the Wildcats leading, 1-0.

The heavy rain that followed left Nobby's Ballpark on the campus of Case Western Reserve unplayable and the respective coaches and athletic directors went into discussion with the tournament manager and the OHSAA to see what the next step would be.

First it was decided that the game would resume on Sunday night at 8 at Kent State University. Then, with the players already on their buses ready to head home, the news came that the game will resume on Sunday at noon on the diamond at Cuyahoga Community College-West.

Either way, it puts a lot of extra pressure on Saint Ignatius to be playing Sunday. Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School will hold its graduation ceremony for the Class of 2013 on Sunday at 4 p.m. That's a pretty small window for the seniors on the baseball team to play the most significant game to date in their careers and then rush to make graduation on time. And who says another delay won't occur during Sunday's game? Not the current weekend forecast.

Sunday's game, again at Tri-C West at noon, will resume at the point it was delayed on Friday evening, with St. Francis coming to bat in the bottom of the first inning , trailing, 1-0.

Saint Ignatius rode two hard shots off the bats of Dan Rowbottom and Tyler Finkler, a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Conor Hennessey and an RBI single by Nick Fabian into the 1-0 lead. After a walk to Nick Longo loaded the bases, St. Francis avoided further damage in the inning by turning a 6-4-3 double play that featured a nice pick at first base by Matt Zmuda. The Knights (29-2) and the Wildcats (25-6) are ranked fourth and 17th, respectively, in the coaches' state poll.

 

Saint Ignatius - Toledo Saint Francis Cleveland Regional Final Baseball Postponed
5/31/2013

Posted by John Fanta '13

Friday's Cleveland Regional Final opened with the sun out, but then the wind picked up. After Nick Fabian delivered an RBI single in the top of the 1st to give Saint Ignatius a 1-0 lead, Cole Nieto grounded into a double play. The Wildcats led Toledo Saint Francis, 1-0, and then the monsoons came to Nobby's Ballpark.

Friday's game is postponed to a time and location to be announced. Stay tuned to Eddie Dwyer's Corner and twitter @SIHSSports and @JohnFanta13.

 

 

Nick Fabian fires a gut-check save, Tom Rolle throws another solid start and the 'Cats ride a three-run second inning to a 3-2 regional-semifinal victory over Avon Lake.
5/30/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May-June 2013

Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats, now winners of 11 consecutive games and 20 of their past 21, will take a 25-6 record into Friday's elite eight, Division I regional-final match up with Toledo St. Francis de Sales (29-2), the state's fourth-ranked team. The first pitch from Nobby's Ballpark on the campus of CWRU will be 5 PM and junior southpaw Nick Margevicius (8-0) will be on the mound for the 'Cats.

St. Francis advanced by defeating fifth-ranked Perrysburg, 10-5, in Thursday's regional semifinal at Bowling Green State University. Saint Ignatius was ranked 17th in the final coaches' state poll for 2013.

Along with the efforts turned in by Nick Fabian and Tom Rolle, the Wildcats also got some clutch hitting from Tyler Finkler, Joe Khoury and Conor Hennessey, some more solid defense from Khoury at first base and Alex Panstares behind the plate, and a strong sixth inning of relief from right-hander Kyle Pluta.

"Knowing how to win close games," said Coach Ganor. "We've been in a number of them all year and these guys have pitched in a number of close games like that."

HERE IS THE FULL STORY ON THURSDAY'S DRAMATIC VICTORY OVER AVON LAKE.

Cleveland, Ohio - It was a perfect late spring early evening in sun-drenched Nobby's Ballpark.

Clouds swirled almost artistically across a blue sky and the temperature on the campus of Case Western Reserve University flirted with 90 degrees.

So it was only fitting that two talented and big-hearted baseball teams played one of the more memorable games in the history Cleveland's OHSAA regional baseball.

The 25-6 Saint Ignatius Wildcats and the 17-11 Avon Lake Shoremen, teams whose gritty and baseball savvy approaches almost mirror one another, tested each other's will for nearly three hours on Thursday evening before the Wildcats prevailed, 3-2, in a Division I semifinal.

While there were many dramatic moments, it was the top of the seventh inning, when you could have cut the tension with a knife, that most of the faithful from both schools took home with them.

Avon Lake, which was coming off two impressive shutout victories over Amherst and Midview in the Lorain District, trailed, 3-1, with bases empty after Wildcats gifted junior first baseman Joe Khoury ran down a high pop fly along the fence in foul territory and made a smooth one-handed catch while leaning over the fence for the first out in the top of the seventh.

The Shoremen refused to look at the scoreboard, however.

After a walk to right fielder Jeremiah Campo, a stolen base by Campo, a wild pitch that advanced Campo to third and walk to Avon Lake's outstanding catcher Brad Hamilton, the Shoremen had runners on first and third with one out.

Up stepped first baseman Kyle Kuhar, Coach Kevin Marlow's clean-up hitter, and he delivered his second RBI of the game with a single up the middle. Kuhar also drove in the first run of the game when, after Campo was hit by a pitch and Hamilton lined a base hit to right-center, he singled home Campo home for a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

With his team now clinging to a one-run lead with one out and runners on the corners, Saint Ignatius head Coach Brad Ganor went to his bullpen again and called on five-tool junior outfielder/pitcher Nick Fabian.

Fabian, who moved from left field to the mound, promptly got the second out on a high pop up to short right center that senior captain and second baseman Dan Rowbottom hauled in.

After a tightly called (some may say squeezed) walk loaded the bases, Fabian kept his composure and sealed the Wildcats' fourth regional final appearance since 2007 by getting the next batter to fly out to junior Nick Longo in right field. Along with Khoury's Vic-Power like grab for the first out of the seventh, Saint Ignatius' sophomore catcher Alex Panstares saved a run with one of his many quick reaction blocks. 

"These guys are confident of getting big outs in tough situations," said Coach Ganor, who guided Saint Ignatius to a school-record three consecutive state final fours in 2007, '08 and '09. "It was an all-around great team effort."

That effort included a three-run bottom of the second that erased the early momentum the Shoremen produced in the top of the first. The key moments were a smoked single by Khoury that advanced Panstares to third after Alex walked with one out, a sacrifice fly by Rowbottom that knotted the score at 1, an RBI single to left by senior shortstop and Ohio University recruit Tyler Finkler that scored Khoury with the go-ahead run and a hustle double by senior center fielder and captain Conor Hennessey that plated Finkler.

Khoury was able to score the go-ahead run because of his heads-up base running that saw him take second base when the relay throw off Rowbottom's sacrifice fly went to home plate.

Saint Ignatius' starter, senior left-hander Tom Rolle, turned in another solid and resilient performance in improving to 6-0 on the season. Coach Ganor also got  a strong stint from senior reliever and captain Kyle Pluta in the top of the sixth after Avon Lake put runners on first and second with a double by designated hitter Cole Rosmarin and a walk.

In his 5 2/3 innings of work, Rolle yielded one unearned run and a walk, struck out four and threw 52 strikes in the 82 pitches he delivered. Described by Wildcats veteran pitching coach T.J. Donovan '94 as an athlete on the mound, Tom also made two of his trademark 1-3 putouts off sharply hit balls.

"In the first inning I kind of lost focus on a few pitches," Rolle said. "So when we came in (after the top of the first), Coach Donovan and I were talking and he said, 'You can't let up, you have to focus on every single pitch! If you do that, we win.'

"My change-up got me out of a lot of tough jams today," Rolle continued. "I really didn't have my curveball, at all, so I had to rely on the change-up and the fastball."

Composed and competitive, that's Tom Rolle personified. Even on a day, said Coach Ganor, when he didn't have his best stuff.

*As for Friday's opponent, the Knights from St. Francis will be bidding for the school’s fourth trip to the state final four in baseball. They lost in the semifinals to the eventual state champion in 1972, 1974 and 1999.

Fueling St. Francis' offense in the early going against Perrysburg on Thursday were Miccoy Drzewiecki with a triple, winning pitcher Max Lyon with a double and Andy Okuley with a single. Each one of those hits produced runs and forced Perrysburg to go to its bullpen.

After a 30-minute lightning delay with two outs in the sixth inning, the Knights got a two-run single from Eric Zmuda and a two-run double from Cody  Lewis. Lyon, who tripled and scored the Knights' 10th run in the seventh, was 3-for-4 on the evening.

See you at Nobby's Ballpark!