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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! 

SIBN Interview with Coach Brad Ganor on Wildcat Baseball
5/29/2013

With the Regional Round of the OHSAA Tournament arriving on Thursday, John Fanta '13 and Coach Brad Ganor talk about the Regional Semifinal against Avon Lake on Thursday and everything else going on in Wildcat baseball. The SIBN will have live coverage of the Regional Semifinal game between the Wildcats and Shoremen beginning at 4:30 tomorrow.

Listen to the interview: 

https://soundcloud.com/jfanta13-1/sibn-interview-with-saint?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=twitter 

John Fanta '13

Saint Ignatius Baseball Encounters Avon Lake in Cleveland Regional Semifinal Thursday
5/27/2013

Posted by Eddie Dwyer

WE'RE TALKING REGIONAL BASEBALL: For the second consecutive spring and the fifth time in Coach Brad Ganor's nine seasons as the head coach of the Wildcats, Saint Ignatius is gearing up for an OHSAA Division I  Regional appearance.

After winning 19 of their past 20 games, the Wildcats (24-6) will enter Thursday's regional semifinal match up with the Avon Lake Shoremen on a 10-game winning streak. The first pitch from Case Western Reserve University will be 5 PM.

Defense, pitching, an aggressive approach on the base paths and some pressure-purpose "small ball" have been the Wildcats' trademarks all spring.

Gritty and gifted senior center fielder Conor Hennessey leads a team that has stolen more than 100 bases this season. This past week, Conor established a new single-season record at the Jesuit Preparatory School in Ohio City by stealing his 28th base. The previous mark was 27 by University of Notre Dame standout Frank DeSico '09. The 100-plus SBs are also a new school record. Coach Ganor's 2008 state runner-up club stole 89.

As for Saint Ignatius' pitching staff, calm, classy and crafty senior southpaw Tom Rolle (5-0) and talented junior left-hander Nick Margevicius (8-0) lead the starting rotation Senior right-handers Kyle Pluta and Matt Lynch and ice-in-his-veins sophomore right-hander MJ Nara hold down the bullpen. Fabian and versatile junior Shane Skuhrovec have also made some quality starts this spring.

Coach Ganor, who has guided his program to a school-best three consecutive state final four appearances (2007, '08 and '09) and has 194 career victories at West 30th and Lorain Avenue, is supported by one of the top assistant staffs in the state. The names you don't always hear are T.J. Donovan '94, Matt Blazer '94, Josh Beineman and Mark Terlep.

Here is the corner's look at Avon Lake and the two teams from the Bowling Green Regional, Perrysburg and Toledo St. Francis de Sales, one of which will face the winner of Thursday's Saint Ignatius-Avon Lake game in Friday's 5 PM regional championship at Case Western Reserve.

Avon Lake: Coach Kevin Marlow's Shoremen have opened the eyes of coaches and fans around Northeast Ohio by stunning the highly touted programs from Amherst and Midview in the Lorain District. And they did it by shutting out both the Comets and Middies.

The Shoremen, who sailed to their first district baseball championship since 2005, rode an advantageous offense and the three-hit pitching of Brett Kiser to the 5-0 district semifinal victory over Amherst. Avon Lake grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first inning without the benefit of a hit. Coach Marlow's team took advantage of three errors and two passed balls. That was more than enough support for Kiser, who did such a nice job of mixing his pitches and changing speeds that he retired 12 Comets in a row.

Avon Lake's early magic continued in Saturday night's 6-0 district-championship game triumph over Midview, as the Shoremen scored three runs in the first inning and added three more in the second. Matt Morissette, who provided Coach Marlow with another strong pitching performance, helped his cause by delivering a two-run single in the first inning. Morissette, displaying a nasty curveball, scattered six hits in going the distance.

Runs batted in by Brad Hamilton and Kyle Kuhar sparked the three-run second inning. Kuhar and Matt Russell each had two hits. Brad Hamilton, a son of one of the greatest radio broadcasters in the history of Major League Baseball, the Indians' Tom Hamilton, left a lasting impression on this old-timer with his hitting, the way he handles himself behind the plate and the class he displayed after the regular season match up between Saint Ignatius and Avon Lake on April 26th in Progressive Field. The Wildcats, on the strength of a five-run first inning, prevailed that night, 9-1.

Perrysburg: Veteran skipper Dave Hall has his Yellow Jackets standing 26-3. Perrysburg, behind its solid battery of pitcher Mark Delas and catcher Kyle Durham, advanced to the regionals by defeating Norwalk, 3-2. Delas, who fired a three-hitter, is a Northern Lakes League wrestling champion. Not that's an athlete, my friends.

A disciplined team at the plate, Perrysburg finished fifth in the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association's Division I state poll. Among those patient hitters are Steve Slocum and A.J. Stockwell.

Toledo St. Francis: Max Lyon's masterful complete game led the Knights to the match up with Perrysburg. Lyon fired a one-hitter and struck out seven in the 4-0 district-final victory over Oregon Clay.

Coach Tim Gerken's Knights are 27-1, ranked fourth in the state poll and will take a 25-game winning streak into regional play. St. Francis has a nice double duo in the Zmuda twins, Eric and Matt, who are both bound for Denison University. The Knights' roster includes 13 seniors.

See you in Nobby's Ballpark at Case Western Reserve University.

 

Wildcats baseball to face Avon Lake in Thursday's regional semifinal.
5/26/2013

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

The Saint Ignatius Wildcats will face the Shoremen from Avon Lake in Thursday's OHSAA Division I Regional Semifinal match up at Case Western Reserve University. The first pitch will be 5 PM.

Avon Lake advanced to regional play by defeating Midview, 6-0, in Saturday night's Lorain District championship game.

The Wildcats and the Shoremen met in the regular season on April 26 at Progressive Field. Saint Ignatius prevailed, 9-1, in a game that was part of the annual Cleveland Indians Charities High School Hardball Classic. Both teams used several pitchers that night as the respective coaching staffs made every effort to see that their entire rosters saw playing time.

For a look at Saint Ignatius' 2-1 victory over Normandy in the Strongsville District title game, see the corner's story below. 

The gifted left arm of Nick Margevicius, Dan Rowbottom's RBI triple, the stellar defense of shortstop Tyler Finkler and the bat and glove of first baseman Joe Khoury lead the Wildcats to a hard-fought, 2-1 district final victory over Normandy.
5/25/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2013

Nick Margevicius displays a wicked curve ball en route to going the distance and improving his record to 8-0. Dan Rowbottom's opposite way RBI triple in the top of the fifth scores Joe Khoury, who had singled, and Tyler Finkler's smooth and savvy play with one out in the bottom of the seventh highlights a sound defensive performance by Saint Ignatius.  

Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats, winners of 10 consecutive games and 19 of their of their past 20, will take a record of 24-6 record into Thursday's Division I Regional Semifinal at Case Western Reserve University. The 5 PM first pitch will match Saint Ignatius against the winner of tonight's Lorain District final between Avon Lake and Midview. We will let you know about the outcome of the Avon Lake-Midview game when it becomes available.

HERE IS THE STORY ON THE 'CATS' DRAMATIC VICTORY OVER A GAME NORMANDY TEAM AND ITS GRITTY PITCHER NICK MARANO.

Strongsville, Ohio - When Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor was informed of the final numbers his gifted junior southpaw Nick Margevicius put together in Saturday's 2-1 district-final victory over Normandy, the veteran skipper smiled and said: "Well, that's why he is 8-0."

And that 8-0 record is a big reason why Coach Ganor's Wildcats now stand 24-6 and will take a 10-game winning streak into Thursday's Division I regional semifinal at Case Western Reserve University. The 'Cats' opponent for Thursday's 5 PM first pitch will be the winner of Saturday night's Lorain District final between Avon Lake and Midview.

As for Margevicius, his seven-inning complete game on a beautiful fall-like May afternoon at Strongsville High School showed him yielding five hits, a run and one walk. A bulldog on the mound who carries a wide smile off the diamond, Margevicius struck out seven and in the 97 pitches he threw, 68 of them were strikes.

"I knew yesterday when I was watching them against Brecksville that they were a good team that can compete," Margevicius said of Normandy's 2-0 district semifinal victory over top-seeded Brecksville-Broadview Heights. "And they showed that again today.

"The curveball was great," Margevicius continued, while discussing his out pitch on Saturday. "I was able to throw it for a strike and get them to swing through it. It made the fastball that much better. I had good control of the change-up too, but I didn't throw that as much."

In what was a classic pitchers' dual, Normandy senior Nick Marano, a young man who can throw a capable knuckle ball, shook off an early 1-0 deficit and kept his team in the game.

Second-seeded Saint Ignatius, which managed just three hits, two by talented junior first baseman Joe Khoury, took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Sophomore catcher Alex Panstares led off the third with a walk and Khoury followed with a line-drive single to right-center field. After senior second baseman and Illinois recruit Dan Rowbottom  moved the runners over with a text-book sacrifice bunt, Marano came up with one of his seven strikeouts.

However, a two-out pitch that bounced in the dirt and away from the catcher accounted for the Wildcats' first run.

Along with the three-hitter, Marano's gutsy effort saw him yield four walks and fire 56 strikes while throwing 104 pitches.

Saint Ignatius' 1-0 lead was short-lived, as the fourth-seeded Invaders (16-13) knotted the score in the bottom of the third behind hits by the Raimondos - a one-out infield single by senior shortstop Greg Raimondo and a two-out RBI single up the middle by junior third baseman Anthony Raimondo.

It stayed a 1-1 game until the top of the fifth, when Khoury slapped a sharp single through the left side and came around to score what turned out to be the winning run off a towering opposite way triple to deep left field by Rowbottom.

"Marge (Margevicius) with the seven innings, that's huge, that's awesome," said Rowbottom, who is one of Coach Ganor's four captains. "He really controlled that game. Even when our offense isn't going, it's still really nice to have Marge on the mound.

"Coach Ganor put on the hit and run and usually you're supposed to pull the ball in that situation," Rowbottom continued in describing his decisive hit. "But the kid threw it outside and I like that outside pitch, I like to go for that gap. He threw it there and fortunately I got a good swing on it."

And that swing, another sound day defensively and the live left arm of Margevicius has the Wildcats moving on to their fifth regional appearance in what is Coach Ganor's ninth season directing the varsity program. Coach Ganor, a former football and baseball standout at St. Edward High School, has guided Saint Ignatius to a school-record three consecutive state final four appearances - 2007, '08 and '09.

After Margevicius threw a six-pitch sixth inning, his 1-2-3 seventh was highlighted by another highlight-reel play by senior shortstop and Ohio University recruit Tyler Finkler. Tyler made a smooth closing charge on a tough grounder over the mound and, in one leaning motion, fired to Khoury at first base for the second out of the inning.

"Nick did exactly what we hoped he could do, give us a chance to win a close game," said Coach Ganor. "Our defense today was some of the best defense I've seen at Saint Ignatius in a long time. Tyler's plays all day, Joe's picks over there at first and Alex (Panstares) behind the plate just doing a great job. Pitching and defense, that's what it comes down to. It always does.

"It's not to be taken for granted," Coach Ganor said of the Wildcats' current streaks (10 in a row and 19 victories in their last 20 games). "We have played a really tough schedule. These guys see the best of the best day in and day out. It's just a testament to their will power. I very proud of what they have accomplished and the fact that they are so resilient."

 

Tom Rolle fires a three-hitter and the Wildcats' aggressvie base running, highlighted by Conor Hennessey's record-setting performance, pays huge dividends in a 6-2 District Semifinal victory over Midpark.
5/25/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2013

Tom Rolle improves to 5-0 on the season en route to leading the Wildcats (23-6) into Saturday's Division I District Championship Game at Strongsville High School. The second-seeded 'Cats, now winners of 18 of their past 19 games, will face fourth-seeded Normandy, which behind pitcher Mitch Kern stunned top-seeded Brecksville-Broadview Heights, 2-0, in Friday's district semifinal opener. The first pitch on Saturday is 11 AM and John Fanta '13 and the SIBN crew will bring you live audio coverage.  

****Conor Hennessey's two stolen bases on Friday make him the Wildcats' all-time, single-season leader with 28 SBs, surpassing the mark of 27 set by University of Notre Dame standout Frank DeSico '09. Congratulations to Conor, his family and the entire Saint Ignatius baseball program.

HERE IS THE STORY ON FRIDAY'S VICTORY OVER MIDPARK.

Strongsville, Ohio - Saint Ignatius' senior center fielder and captain Conor Hennessey said he was just trying to play baseball the past few weeks, a stretch when it became evident that he was on the doorstep of setting a new Wildcats' single-season record for stolen bases.

"I was just trying to get in scoring position for the other guys to hit me in," said Hennessey, who now stands alone as the single-season stolen bases leader at the Jesuit Preparatory School in Ohio City (see the second-paragraph lead-in above). "We've been doing a good job of that."

I'll say.

The Wildcats, with Hennessey's single-season best 28 stolen bases being among more than 100 bases Coach Brad Ganor's team has stolen this spring, again ran with aggression and passion on a cold and windy late Friday afternoon in Strongsville. And yes, those 100-plus SBs are also an all-time, single-season mark at West 30th and Lorain Ave.

The result was a 6-2 victory over Midpark in a Division I district semifinal match up at Strongsville High School.

Heads-up base running, some small ball that featured bunting executed better than its done at the major-league level and the pitching of senior southpaw Tom Rolle showed the way to Saint Ignatius' ninth consecutive victory. The second-seeded Wildcats (23-6) will put that streak on the line Saturday morning when Coach Ganor's club returns to Strongsville High School for a match up with the fourth-seeded Normandy Invaders in an OHSAA Northeast District championship game. The first pitch is 11 AM.

"We're going to play tomorrow for tomorrow," said Hennessey, who also excelled as a football wide receiver and punt returner during his hard-nosed, leave-it-all-on-the-field career at Saint Ignatius. "We're going to get better tomorrow and then worry about the next day."

With Rolle giving Coach Ganor and Wildcats veteran pitching coach T.J. Donovan '94 very little to worry about, Saint Ignatius held a 6-0 lead after five innings.

In improving to 5-0 on the season, Rolle pitched six complete innings. He yielded three hits, two runs, two walks, hit four batters and struck out seven. Fifty nine of Tom's 84 pitches were for strikes and he started the game with the efficiency all pitching coaches savor - a five-pitch first inning and a six-pitch third inning. As for the four hit batsmen, it more of a case of Midpark's hitters willing to take one for the team on inside pitches than it was wildness.  

Midpark starter Zach Charbat could probably make a case that he deserved a better fate, especially early on.

Wildcats junior designated hitter Quillen Austria led off the bottom of third with a fly ball to right-center field that was dropped after the center fielder and right fielder seemed to miscommunicate on the play.

After senior second baseman and Illinois recruit Dan Rowbottom walked, Hennessey laid down a sacrifice bunt and beat it out, loading the bases. The Meteors came up with a 5-2 force at home for the first out of the inning, only to be hurt by another perfectly executed bunt, this time off the bat of five-tool junior left fielder Nick Fabian.

Rowbottom and Hennessey both scored off Fabian's squeeze, as Hennessey, who never stopped running, crossed the plate when Midpark tried to throw Fabian out at first base. A two-out wild pitch accounted for the 'Cats' third run of the third inning.

The Meteors, who defeated Saint Ignatius in district-final match ups in 2006 and 2011, had the bases loaded with one out in the top of the fifth. However, Rolle doused the potential fire by making a quick-reaction play on a line drive off his glove and throwing the runner from third out at home. Tom then ended the threat with one of his seven Ks.

Riding the emotion of Rolle's efforts, the Wildcats took command with a three-run bottom of the fifth.

Rowbottom set the table with a base hit to right field and a stolen base. After Rowbottom moved to third on a wild pitch, Hennessey walked and stole his second base of the game - the record-setting 28th. Gifted senior shortstop and Ohio University recruit Tyler Finkler put his stamp on the bunting clinic and before Midpark's faithful could say "What the heck," two more runs scored. Fabian's sacrifice fly to deep left field made it a 6-0 game. Ok, so I cleaned the remark in quotes up a bit. This is a family corner after all.

The Meteors would give their faithful something to take home, as Coach Paul Heinbaugh's team cut the deficit to 6-2 in the top of the sixth on a walk, a double to right center by third baseman Kyle Slovick and a two-out, two-run pinch-hit double down the left-field line by Joe Krucke.

It was Saint Ignatius' evening, however, as senior right-hander Matt Lynch came on the seventh inning and, with runners on first and second and one out, ended the game with back-to-back strikeouts.

"It's good to get it out of the way," said a smiling Hennessey of the stolen-base mark. "But it's nice to have also." Part of a strong Hennessey legacy at Saint Ignatius, Conor is quite familiar with the Wildcats' rich athletic history and the outstanding player (Frank DeSico) whose record he broke.

"We like to make things happen on our own," Conor continued, in reference to Saint Ignatius' success on the base paths. "Get a guy over and get him in, that's how we get it done, as a team. It's not selfish baseball."

And Coach Ganor, who has now guided his program to its ninth consecutive district final in what is his ninth season as the Wildcats' skipper, couldn't agree more.

"It's true," Coach Ganor said. "I think we do a good job of not looking beyond our opponent. These guys are ready for the next step. We just need to keep doing it (the pressure on the base paths). The more pressure we put on them, the more plays they have to make. The higher percentages are that they won't make some of them."

ON A PERSONAL NOTE: This old-timer would like to wish the current Meteors and their coaches all of the best, now and in the future, as they are closing out the final school year as Midpark High School. Midpark and neighboring Berea High School are merging and next school year the sports programs will be known as the Berea-Midpark Titans. But again, Thank You to the Meteors and all of their coaches, past and present. It was a privilege to cover and report on your accomplishments during my nearly four decades at The Plain Dealer. God Bless, Eddie.

Strongsville District baseball schedule
5/24/2013

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

If Mother Nature cooperates on Friday and permits the Strongsville district baseball semifinals to be played (see today's postponement story below), Saturday's district championship game at Strongsville will begin at 11 a.m. That is according to the current OHSAA brackets. Again, 11 a.m., not 4:30 as some of the tweeters are reporting.

Saint Ignatius - Midpark OHSAA Baseball Strongsville District Semifinal Canceled
5/23/2013

Today's Strongsville District Semifinal between Saint Ignatius and Midpark at Strongsville HS at 4:30 will be played on Friday at 4:30 at Strongsville HS. Stay uned for more information, but the Semifinals will be played tomorrow, as weather forced today's to be called.


-John Fanta '13

Sophomore southpaws Dylan Smolen and Brendan Adler make impressive varsity debuts and Saint Ignatius scores eight runs in the second inning en route to a 10-2 victory at Brunswick.
5/21/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2013

Smolen and Adler, promoted from the junior varsity, provide five strong innings and the Wildcats send 13 batters to the plate in the take-charge top of the second.

Saint Ignatius (22-6) extended its winning streak to eight games and will enter Thursday's OHSAA Division I District Semifinal against Midpark having won 17 of its past 18 games. The first pitch from Thursday's Strongsville High School District will be 4:30 and seniors John Fanta and Greg Ziton will bring you the game live over the SIBN, as John and Greg are in the home stretch of their outstanding broadcasting careers at Saint Ignatius.

*Here is the full story on Tuesday's regular-season finale at Brunswick.

Medina County - When this corner told Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor how impressive it was to see the Wildcats send two junior varsity call-up sophomores to the mound against the state's 12th-ranked Division I team on Tuesday evening, Coach Ganor never blinked while responding.

"Two Saint Ignatius sophomores," Coach Ganor said, referring to left-handers Dylan Smolen and Brendan Adler. "I don't consider them the same as every other high school sophomore."

Smolen, who started and went three shutout innings, and Adler, who threw a gutsy fourth and fifth innings, had some varsity debut jitters. However, they gave on-lookers the appearance they were right at home on the mound at Brunswick High School.

Of course, there is nothing like an early 9-0 lead to ease the butterflies.

Smolen, who picked up the victory, yielded three hits, struck out two, walked five and totaled 58 pitches, 31 of which were strikes. Adler's two innings read two hits, one run, two walks and 23 strikes in 38 pitches.

Senior right-hander Matt Lynch threw a scoreless sixth and senior right-hander and captain Kyle Pluta worked the seventh.

Saint Ignatius, ranked 17th in the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association's fifth and final Division I poll for 2013, took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. After Smolen pitched out of a two-out, bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the first, the Wildcats pretty much silenced the Blue Devils' Senior Day crowd for the rest of the game by scoring eight runs in the top of the second.

A leadoff walk to senior center fielder and captain Conor Hennessey, a stolen base by Hennessey and a one-rout RBI double the opposite way to deep left field by senior captain and second baseman Dan Rowbottom accounted for the 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Hennessey now has 26 stolen bases on the season and is just one short of tying Saint Ignatius' all-time single-season mark set by University of Notre Dame standout Frank DeSico '09.

Thirteen Wildcats dug in the batter's box in the decisive second, as Coach Ganor's team loaded the bases on an infield hit by senior third baseman Cole Nieto, catcher's interference and a hit batsman. Sophomore catcher Alex Panstares dew a walk for the 'Cats' second run of the game, junior first baseman Joe Khoury laid down a perfect squeeze bunt that made it 3-0 and after an RBI single by Hennessey and bases-loaded walks to junior second baseman Quillen Austria and Rowbottom, gifted junior left fielder Nick Fabian went the opposite way for an RBI single to right field.

The eighth run of the second inning and the 9-0 lead came courtesy of a fielder's choice and a throwing error.

Saint Ignatius' 10th and final run was produced in the top of the sixth on a one-out single by Austria, a two-base throwing error and a sacrifice fly to deep center field by Fabian.

"Winning a game like that can only build the confidence, it can't hurt the confidence," Coach Ganor said. "I'm proud of them and I'm happy that we started the week in the right direction. Our focus is on Thursday, that's all that matters. If we don't win Thursday, we're collecting the uniforms on Friday.

"They're ready," Coach Ganor continued. "You can just tell they're ready by the way they carry themselves in practice. They're ready for the next challenge."

A TOUCH OF CLASS, LOVE AND REMEMBERANCE: Led by Ohio State recruit Kyle Michalik, Coach Todd Winston's Brunswick Blue Devils will take a 19-9 record into Thursday's Division I district semifinal match up with the Twinsburg Tigers in The Ball Park at Hudson. And in their hearts will be their great friend, senior Cora Flemming, who recently lost a battle to bone cancer. The Blue Devils have the name Flemming printed across the back of their jerseys.

All of the best to one of the state's best on Thursday in Hudson. 

Saint Ignatius baseball ranked 17th in final regular-season state poll.
5/20/2013

By Eddie Dwyer

The Saint Ignatius Wildcats varsity baseball team, which is gearing up for Thursday's 4:30 District Semifinal match up with the Midpark Meteors at Strongsville High School, was ranked 17th in the final regular season Division I state poll by the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association.

Mason, defending state champion Archbishop Moeller and Brecksville-Broadview Heights were ranked 1-2-3, respectively. Other area teams in the top 20 were Walsh Jesuit (ninth), Brunswick (12), Mentor (13), Nordonia (tied for 13th), Hudson (16), Aurora (19) and Highland (20).

Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats (21-6), winners of 16 of their past 17 games, will complete their regular season schedule at 12th-ranked Brunswick on Tuesday at 4:30. Brunswick faces Twinsburg in a District Semifinal on Thursday at 4:30 in The Ball Park at Hudson. Twinsburg stunned Walsh Jesuit, 1-0, in last weekend's sectional final at Walsh Jesuit.

 

Saint Ignatius Baseball Battles Midpark on Thursday for a Berth in the District Final
5/19/2013

Posted by Eddie Dwyer

BASEBALL: Coach Brad Ganor’s red-hot Wildcats are scheduled to close out their regular season at Brunswick on Tuesday (4:30). However, all of the focus is on Thursday afternoon’s district semifinal match up with the Midpark Meteors (11-11) at Strongsville High School. The first pitch is scheduled for 4:30. If successful on Thursday, the 21-6 ‘Cats, winners of 16 of their past 17 games, will return to Strongsville on Friday for the district championship game at 5. The other half of Thursday's semifinals, slated for 2 p.m., will match the state’s second-ranked Brecksville-Broadview Heights Bees and the Normandy Invaders.

Brecksville is the top seed at Strongsville, Saint Ignatius is seeded second and Normandy and Midpark are the fourth and sixth seeds, respectively.

 Midpark is playing with a lot of emotion, as the school will be officially closing (as a high school) next month and will merge with neighboring Berea. The new name next school year will be the Berea-Midpark Titans. That said, Coach Ganor’s Wildcats have some extra incentive, too. It was none other than Midpark that eliminated Saint Ignatius in the 2011 district finals.

Saint Ignatius baseball rides a clutch two-run single by captain Dan Rowbottom, the left arm of now 7-0 Nick Margevicius, a picture-perfect squeeze bunt by Quillen Austria and some heady base running to an 8-0 sectional-final victory over Berea.
5/18/2013
     
5/17/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2013

The Wildcats (21-6), winners of 16 of their past 17 games, turn back a gritty Berea team that played like anything but a club that has just four victories on the season. Dan Rowbottom, a three-year varsity mainstay and an Illinois recruit, breaks open a scoreless game with a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the fourth. It was the first hit on the day for the 'Cats as both teams finish with four hits.

Junior infielder Quillen Austria keys Saint Ignatius' three-run fifth with a perfectly executed squeeze bunt, two-out doubles by junior left fielder Nick Fabian and senior first baseman Kevin Hagen highlight a three-run sixth, and junior southpaw Nick Margevicius pitches six shutout innings.

Up next for the Wildcats is Tuesday's regular-season finale at Brunswick and Thursday's district semifinal versusMidpark at Strongsville High School. Both games are slated for 4:30 p.m. Midpark, which eliminated Saint Ignatius in the 2011 district finals, advanced by defeating Parma, 8-1, in Friday's sectionals.

Here is the story on Friday's triumph at Baldwin Wallace University.

Berea, Ohio - Welcome back Grandpa Geraci!

You could see the emotion in Dan Rowbottom's eyes as he stood in front of the third-base dugout in the atmosphere-rich baseball facility at Baldwin Wallace University early Friday evening.

And those special feelings weren't just because Rowbottom, one of Saint Ignatius' unquestioned leaders, delivered the big two-out hit in the bottom of the fourth inning that broke open a scoreless game and sent the Wildcats on their way to an 8-0 victory over Berea in a Division I sectional final.

The huge smile that was accompanied by a teary-eyed expression was for one of the special people in Dan's life - his grandfather Sam Geraci.

Mr. Geraci, who had been hospitalized, was on hand with his wife Theresa on Friday to watch their grandson's clutch moment.

"This was the first time this season that he was able to be at a game," said Rowbottom, the Wildcats' senior second baseman and captain. "Usually I have all four of my grandparents at everyone of my games. But he was ill the past couple of months and is finally back. It is so great to have him back."

And it's great for head Coach Brad Ganor and his staff to have players with the talent and class that Rowbottom combines so well.

Saint Ignatius (21-6), which has been on an impressive run since late April, was tested from the get-go in what was eventually their seventh consecutive victory and 16th triumph in 17 games.

Shutdown for three innings by Berea senior pitcher Alan Torres, the Wildcats kept it a scoreless game through 3 1/2 innings thanks to the work of their standout junior left-hander Nick Margevicius. Margevicius, in improving to 7-0 on the spring, blanked the Braves on four hits through six innings. He struck out five, walked one and had 54 strikes among the 81 pitches he threw. Sophomore right-hander MJ Nara ended the game by striking out the side in the seventh inning.

"In playoffs, anything can happen," said Rowbottom. "We see that every single year, a good team getting knocked out by a team that isn't as talented. We all knew we would get it going. It was just a matter of time."

That time came in the bottom of the fourth, when Rowbottom came up with Saint Ignatius' first hit off Torres, a sharp two-out, two-run single. Dan's momentum-changer scored sophomore pinch runner Sam Fuller and sophomore catcher Alex Panstares.

Fuller, who was pinch running for junior designated hitter Shane Skuhrovec, who was hit by a pitch with one out, stole second base and, in a great read off a pitch in the dirt, advanced to third. Panstares walked and stole second. After a strikeout, Rowbottom brought life to the 'Cats' dugout and eased the pins and needles that accompanied Saint Ignatius' faithful by authoritatively sending Mr. Rawlings through the right side of a sun-drenched diamond.

"It was an inside fastball," said Rowbottom. "I was able to get my hands through and get a good swing on it. I wasn't trying to do too much with it, I wanted to just put it on the ground. We had too many fly outs today."

The Wildcats, seeded second at the OHSAA Strongsville sectional/district, began to establish their superiority by scoring three times in the bottom of the fifth.

Standout senior shortstop Tyler Finkler, an Ohio University recruit, led off with a walk and stole second. Gifted five-tool junior left fielder Nick Fabian then laid down a bunt and beat the throw to first. After a wild pitch put runners on second and third, Berea got a 6-3 out off a drawn-in infield.

The hard-earned evening belonged to Saint Ignatius, however, as junior infielder Quillen Austria, a player who typifies the Wildcats' selfless, do-it-when-called-upon approach, put down a squeeze bunt that would make any manager on any level smile. And it came off a tough pitch to handle.

Austria not only brought home his team's third run, but, in their hurry to try to throw Austria out at first, the Braves air-mailed the throw in the direction of the parking lot. The fourth run came around to score, Austria advanced all the way to third and Skuhrovec, who re-entered the game, lifted a deep sacrifice fly to center field that pushed the lead to 5-0.

After Margevicius pitched out of a bases-loaded situation in the top of the sixth, the 'Cats left no doubt.

With two outs and the bases empty, Finkler was hit by a pitch, promptly stole second and scored on a double by Fabian off a nice piece of hitting. Fabian stole third, senior third baseman Cole Nieto drew a walk and, with the runners breaking on the pitch, senior first baseman Kevin Hagen lined a two-run double to left.

"Everyone expects us to win," said Coach Ganor. "We can't give a team hope, that's what it comes down to. They (the Braves) were feeling it and so were their fans. We were tight, but hopefully we got it out of our system and will come ready next week.

"In the end, it doesn't matter, because we won the game," Coach Ganor continued. "We won the sectionals, and now we move forward. If we won, 1-0, 10-0 or 20-0, it doesn't matter. You have to advance. Nick (Margevicius) did a great job. He got out of a jam there in the first (first and second, one out). If they score there, this game has a very different feeling."     

'Cats will face Berea in Friday's sectional final
5/16/2013

Posted by Eddie Dwyer

Saint Ignatius (20-6), the second seed for the Strongsville Division I sectional/district baseball tournament, will face the Berea Braves in a sectional final on Friday at Baldwin Wallace University. The first pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

Berea advanced by defeating Rhodes in Thursday's OHSAA sectional semifinals.  

Kevin Hagen continues to swing a hot bat, Alex Panstares drives in four runs, Tyler Finkler turns in another highlight-reel play and the 'Cats set a single-season record for stolen bases.
5/15/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2013

Quillen Austria's stolen base in the bottom of the fourth tied Saint Ignatius' single-season record of 89 stolen bases set in 2008 and Cole Nieto accounted for the new mark of 91 by stealing second and third in the fourth.

Junior right-hander Shane Skuhrovec throws a gutsy, workman-like 5 and 2/3 innings in improving to 2-0, junior David Bodziony closes the door on North Ridgeville with 14 strikes in his 21 pitches in relief and junior outfielder/pinch hitter/pinch runner Kyle Daugenti has a two-hit day.

The Wildcats win for the 15th time in their past 16 games, the 17th time in their past 19 games, extend their winning streak to six games and improve to 20-6 overall. Coach Brad Ganor, now his 9th season as the 'Cats' skipper, picks up his 190th career victory.

Up next for Saint Ignatius is an OHSAA Division I sectional final against the winner of Thursday's sectional semifinal between Rhodes and Berea. NOTE: If Berea wins, the sectional final is slated for Friday at Baldwin Wallace University at 4:30. However, if Rhodes is victorious, the sectional final will be moved to Saturday at Baldwin Wallace at 1 p.m. Rhodes is celebrating prom night on Friday.

HERE IS THE FULL STORY ON WEDNESDAY'S 10-3 BASEBALL VICTORY OVER NORTH RIDGEVILLE.

BEREA, OHIO - The 2013 Saint Ignatius Wildcats are blessed with a group of talented veterans, seniors and juniors who lead by word and example on and off the baseball diamond.

And while those gifted leaders have each played major roles in the impressive run Coach Brad Ganor's team is currently on, you can look no further than to players such as Kevin Hagen, Shane Skuhrovec, David Bodziony, Qullien Austria, Jordan Bufford, Jagger Bruck, Bennett Kinzel, Patrick Gulick, Kyle Daugenti and on and on, to appreciate why these current 'Cats are not only a cool bunch, but extremely selfless as well.

"Everyone contributes," said Hagen after his two hits, sacrifice fly and RBI helped Saint Ignatius to its sixth consecutive victory on Wednesday evening - a 10-3 triumph over North Ridgeville at Baldwin Wallace University. The 20-6 Wildcats have now won 15 of their past 16 games.

"You can count on anyone to come in and get that hit or make that play," Hagen continued.

In many ways, Hagen represents the team chemistry and perseverance that exudes from Saint Ignatius' dugout.

After not making the varsity as a junior, the calm and talented senior has made his mark as a designated hitter, pinch hitter and backup catcher for Coach Ganor.

"I still love the program," Hagen said of his experience of being cut last year. "I love the game and I just wanted to help this team win. I tried out again, made the team and now I'm just trying to help this team go as far as we can go."

With six hits in his last seven at-bats, the mature-beyond-his-years Hagen has been doing just that.

"I'm looking for fastballs, I'm seeing the ball well," said Hagen, who helped key the Wildcats' 12-hit attack against North Ridgeville. "I'm just trying to drive it."

Saint Ignatius, the second seed for the upcoming Strongsville Division I sectional/district, put itself in the driver's seat on Wednesday by scoring five runs in the bottom of the first.

With one out and nobody on base, senior center fielder and captain Conor Hennessey walked, stole second base, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on sacrifice fly off the bat of gifted senior shortstop and captain Tyler Finkler. Hennessey's stolen base was his 23rd of the season, putting him just four shy of tying the Wildcats' all-time, single-season record set by University of Notre Dame standout Frank DeSico '09.

Saint Ignatius continued its two-out magic in the first inning as five-tool junior left fielder Nick Fabian walked and stole second. Senior third baseman Cole Nieto, who has been playing exceptional all-around baseball, drove in Fabian with a sharp grounder through the left side. Hagen followed with a single to right-center field and a passed ball put Hagen and Nieto at second and third.

After starting and winning pitcher Shane Skuhrovec drew a walk, sophomore catcher Alex Panstares completed the five-run first by clearing the bases with a three-run triple to right field. Panstares joins Wildcats crafty closer MJ Nara as two sophomores who have made an impact on the varsity this spring.

North Ridgeville (12-14), which was coming off a 15-5, 18-hit victory over Elyria, got back in the game by scoring two runs in the top of the third.

Coach Matt Ponting's Rangers, who had won their three previous games, turned infield hits by left fielder Bailey Gannon and center fielder Anthony Miranda, a throwing error, a Baltimore Chop for a base hit by second baseman Logan Armaro, a stolen base by Armaro, a walk to third baseman Matt Feierabend and a one-out, bases-loaded fielder's choice into their two runs.

North Ridgeville looked as though it was going to do further damage in the third after a two-out walk to first baseman Nolan Freeman loaded the bases again.

It was Finkler to the rescue, however, as Tyler, who just accepted a baseball scholarship to Ohio University on Sunday, made a diving stop of a hard-hit ball up the middle and, in one motion while still on the ground, flipped Mr. Rawlings over to senior second baseman and captain Dan Rowbottom for the force.

Riding the emotion of one of many big plays turned in by Finkler this season, Saint Ignatius regained control by scoring two runs in the bottom of the third.

The key hits in the 'Cats' two-run third were line-drive hustle doubles by Hagen and Panstares, with Panstares' two-bagger scoring Hagen, who had stolen second base. Junior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo pushed Saint Ignatius' lead to 7-2 with the third double of the inning, a line shot to deep right field.

The Wildcats, who overcame an uncharacteristic four errors, scored two more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Austria, a junior infielder, was hit by a pitch leading off, stole second and went to third on an errant pick-off attempt. Nieto drew a walk and broke for second, with Austria scoring on the throw to second base. Nieto then stole third and came home off a sacrifice fly RBI by Hagen.

After Nieto, Austria and smooth-handed junior first baseman Joe Khoury turned in some solid plays defensively, North Ridgeville, a member of the West Shore Conference, tallied its final run in the top of the sixth.

The evening belonged to the team from Ohio City, however, as Bodziony, a junior infielder/relief pitcher, laced a line-drive single up the middle with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the sixth. Bruck, a senior catcher, was hit by a pitch and Daugenti followed with an RBI single for the final run of the game.

Bodziony, who before he came on in relief of Skuhrovec in the sixth inning had not pitched since the eighth grade (he fractured his arm in freshman tryouts), got the next-to-last out of the game on a strikeout with runners on first and second. Bruck then sent everyone home by picking the runner off first base.

In his 5 and 2/3 innings of work, Skuhrovec yielded five hits, three runs (one earned), three walks and had three strikeouts. Shane threw 87 pitches, 54 of which were strikes.

"I'll take it," said Coach Ganor of his 190th career victory. "But that's 190 wins by great players. That 0-2 hit in the first inning by Alex (Panstares) was fantastic. That's good hitting for a sophomore.

"Now I feel like we're peaking at the right time," Coach Ganor continued. "I feel like our pitching is in line, we're swinging the bats well and playing good defense. That usually equates to long tournament runs. As long as these guys realize we can't look ahead and take it one game at a time, and all of the clichés, then we'll be fine."

 

Chemistry, resiliency, take your pick. The calm and cool Baseball 'Cats find yet another way in a dramatic, 9-8, nine-inning victory over Canton Central Catholic.
5/13/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2013

MJ Nara has a milestone evening out of the bullpen and at the plate, Bennett Kinzel provides a clutch effort in relief, Shane Skuhrovec knocks in the tying run in the bottom of the seventh and then delivers the walk-off, game-winning hit in the ninth, and Kevin Hagen has a four-hit performance as Coach Brad Ganor's team improves to 19-6.

Up next for the Wildcats is Wednesday afternoon's regular-season match up with North Ridgeville and Friday's OHSAA Division I sectional final against the winner of Thursday's semifinal between Rhodes and Berea. The Wednesday and Friday games are slated for Baldwin Wallace University at 4:30.

HERE IS THE STORY ON  MONDAY EVENING'S THRILLER.

Berea, Ohio - Since being called up from the junior varsity early last month, Saint Ignatius' sophomore right-hander MJ Nara has steadily put his lock on the role as Coach Brad Ganor's closer.

Through his five saves, Nara has pitched with a give-me-the-ball approach.

So it came as no surprise when Nara, who had just won his first varsity game, came up with his first base hit of the season, junior varsity or varsity, and scored his first run of the spring (the game-tying run), talked with the calm and confidence of a four-year letterman.

"It felt pretty good, to go out there, hit my spots and do what I could," said Nara after his gritty 2 and 1/3 innings of relief and the clutch bats of junior outfielder Shane Skuhrovec, senior designated hitter Kevin Hagen and senior third baseman Cole Nieto helped lead the Wildcats to a 9-8 victory over tradition-rich Canton Central Catholic at Baldwin Wallace University on Monday. The sun was setting as Skuhrovec ended the three-plus hour, will-testing match up on a walk-off single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

"It's good chemistry, we work good together," Nara continued while speaking of a Wildcats team that has now won 14 of its past 15 games, five in a row and 19 of 25 overall. "If I throw a pitch and it gets hit, I know the play is going to be made. Anyone on this team can step in and do their job. That's what is so special."

And having the opportunity to watch two programs who play with pride and respect for the game is very special, too. Simply put, there is no such thing as a "tune-up" when the 'Cats and the Crusaders get together. Anyone in attendance at Baldwin Wallace on Monday evening can attest to that.

Under the direction of 32-year head coach Doug Miller, a man with 631career victories, Canton Central  Catholic took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a two-out, bases-loaded single to right-center field by junior second baseman Nate Shisler. Shisler's hit came off an 0-2 pitch.

Saint Ignatius, which is seeded second to Brecksville-Broadview Heights for the upcoming Strongsville Division I sectional/district, took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the second.

Standout junior left fielder/pitcher Nick Fabian led off the bottom of the second with a single up the middle, stole second base and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Senior third baseman Cole Nieto, whose play has been a huge key to the Wildcats' 14-of-15 run, drew a walk and promptly stole second. Fabian, who was breaking from third on the throw to second, easily scored the 'Cats' first run.

An RBI single by senior designated hitter Kevin Hagen knotted the score at 2. Kevin was 4-for-5 on the evening. After a stolen base by Hagen, Saint Ignatius took a 3-2 lead on a two-out infield hit by junior first baseman Joe Khoury that was accompanied by a throwing error.

Following a scoreless third inning, the see-saw battle continued.

The Crusaders, on the strength of a triple to deep right field by senior designated hitter Tim Valentine, tied the score in the top of the fourth only to watch the Wildcats respond with two runs in the bottom of the inning.

Heads-up base running by junior right fielder/pitcher Nick Longo (two stolen bases) and Nieto, along with the timely swings by Hagen and Skuhrovec, put the 'Cats back in front, 5-3.

Central Catholic, a program that in 2011 won its second state championship in four years, rode a single by senior shortstop Steven Montgomery, a double by junior left fielder Shawn Jones, a fielder's choice and a wild pitch into the tying runs in the top of the fifth. Following his double, Jones was injured while breaking from second base and had to be helped to the Crusaders' dugout.

The punch-counter punch from both teams helped keep their faithful warm on a fall-like evening in May.

A two-out, two-base error and a clutch pinch-hit RBI single by senior infielder Jordan Bufford, his second big hit in less than a week, had Saint Ignatius clinging to a 6-5 lead entering the top of the sixth.

Central Catholic, the 12-ranked team in the coaches' Division III state poll, appeared to grab the late-game momentum when it scored three times in its half of the sixth. Sandwiching walks around a line-drive RBI double by sophomore right fielder Patrick Murphy, the Crusaders led, 8-6.

Only a huge backward K by Saint Ignatius' versatile junior infielder/outfielder/relief pitcher Bennett Kinzel prevented Coach Miller's team from doing further damage in the sixth.

Coach Ganor's Wildcats would close to 8-7 entering the top of the seventh. After Crusaders' pinch hitter Beau Sirpilla doubled to deep left field with one out in the seventh and the next batter lined out sharply to second base, ice-in-his veins Nara took the mound.

Nara ended the top of the seventh by getting the next batter to pop out to senior shortstop and Ohio University recruit Tyler Finkler.

With one out and nobody on in the bottom of the seventh, Nara singled to right field, Nieto walked and Hagen loaded the bases with another pressure hit. Skuhrovec then drove the ball to left field for a sacrifice fly that scored Nara and forced extra innings.

"I was pumped, first varsity hit in first at-bat (of the season)," Nara said. "It (the pitch) was outside and I just took it that way."

Throwing a solid breaking pitch, even when he was behind in the count, Nara would go on to pitch out of a first-and-second and out-out situation in the top of the eighth and throw a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the ninth en route to setting the stage for the emotional finish. The first out in the top of the ninth came courtesy of a nice move to his right by senior second baseman, captain and Illinois recruit Dan Rowbottom.

With two outs and nobody on base in the bottom of the ninth, Nieto lined a single the opposite way to right field and stole second base. Hagen followed with single that put runners on first and third, and the unassuming, but oh so capable Skuhrovec, followed with the game-winning, line-drive single to right center off a 1-2 pitch.

Saint Ignatius finished with 10 hits and played errorless baseball.

"Guys in unique positions, MJ (Nara) with the hit and Bennett (Kinzel) with the backwards K with two guys on, that's huge," said Coach Ganor. "It's just another example of why this team is special. No matter what happens in the tournament, it's a special group. They have fun together.

"You just felt like we were going to win," Coach Ganor continued. "It could have gone 15 innings and it just felt like we were going to win. It's important for us to win close games against a quality program. Coach Miller does a great job."

And so does the skipper wearing blue and gold, who will be seeking his 190th career victory in less than nine seasons when his Wildcats host North Ridgeville on Wednesday.

 

Tyler Finkler officially commits to Ohio University!
5/12/2013

By Eddie Dwyer

Saint Ignatius' standout senior shortstop and captain Tyler Finkler has accepted a baseball scholarship from the Bobcats of Ohio University.

Tyler, who is having an outstanding all-around season for the 18-6 Wildcats, visited Ohio University today and accepted the Bobcats' offer to further his education and baseball career in Athens, Ohio.

A two-year varsity mainstay, Tyler is a superb fielder, a consistent hitter and he brings exceptional baseball instincts to the field. He becomes one of nearly 60 players in Coach Brad Ganor's program to have the opportunity to play at the next level.

Congratulations to Tyler, his family, Coach Ganor and the entire Saint Ignatius baseball program.

Saint Ignatius Baseball Readies for Sectional Final with Two Regular Season Contests
5/12/2013


Posted by Eddie Dwyer

Baseball: As is always the case on the high school level, Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats will be balancing regular season games with sectional and district play.

On Monday, the Wildcats, winners of 13 of their past 14 games, will host Canton Central Catholic at Baldwin Wallace University. The first pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Baldwin Wallace will be the 'Cats' home all week, as North Ridgeville comes calling on Wednesday at 4:30. Friday, Saint Ignatius (18-6), the second seed at the OHSAA Strongsville sectional/district, will play a sectional final game at BW. The 4:30 first pitch will match the Wildcats against the winner of Thursday's sectional semifinal between the Rhodes Rams and the Berea Braves.

 

The young, but gifted arms of Nick Margevicius and MJ Nara pitch Saint Ignatius past St. Edward, 1-0.
5/11/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2013

Called on sooner than he expected, Margevicius throws 5 and 2/3 innings of shutout baseball and Nara slams the door in the seventh as the Wildcats sweep their two-game, regular-season series with the Eagles.

A one-out double by Shane Skuhrovec and a two-out RBI single by Joe Khoury in the bottom of the second inning account for the game's only run.

Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats win for the 13th time in 14 games and will now take an 18-6 record into Monday's match up with Canton Central Catholic at Baldwin Wallace University. The first pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.

The 'Cats' junior varsity team defeats St. Ed's jayvees for the third time this season, 8-4, and the Eagles' freshman team ends up splitting its two-game season series with Saint Ignatius' freshmen by prevailing, 8-6, in what was the first game of Saturday's annual all-levels triple header between the West Side rivals.

HERE IS THE FULL STORY ON THE WILDCATS' VARSITY GAME. THE JV AND FRESHMAN RECAPS WILL BE COMING UP.  

Berea, Ohio - Saint Ignatius' talented junior southpaw Nick Margevicius said he was expecting to be called on for a close-out or relief role during the late innings of Saturday evening's game against rival St. Edward at Baldwin Wallace University.

Well, as all baseball coaches tell their pitchers, always be ready.

After the Wildcats' No. 1 starter, senior left-hander Tom Rolle, experienced some discomfort while pitching to just the third batter of the game, Saint Ignatius head coach Brad Ganor and veteran pitching coach T.J. Donovan '94 went to the mound.

Following a discussion with Rolle, Coach Ganor and Coach Donovan made the decision to call on Margevicius with one out, a runner on first and a 1-0 count on the third batter.

After being allowed to warm up on the mound, Margevicius, overcoming a first-inning walk and wild pitch, went on to lead Saint Ignatius to a season-series sweep of its longtime rival, 1-0.

The only offense Coach Ganor's team needed came courtesy of a one-out double by junior designated hitter Shane Skuhrovec and a two-out, run-scoring single off the bat of junior first baseman Joe Khoury. The game's lone run was produced in the bottom of the second inning.

"Tom (Rolle) played catch prior to the game gingerly, which sometimes he does," said Coach Donovan, a former baseball and football standout for the Wildcats who played baseball professionally. "And then the normal Tom turns it up once we get to the bullpen (pregame). He didn't show any pain in the bullpen, but once he went out there (in the first inning), we could clearly see something wasn't right. So we played it safe.

"I think it may be something with his elbow," Coach Donovan continued. "So we will rest him accordingly in order to get him ready for the playoffs."

As for the young man they called on, it wasn't like Coach Ganor and Coach Donovan were turning to untested waters. Margevicius, who pitched extremely well after being promoted from the junior varsity as a sophomore in 2012, blanked St. Edward over 5 and 2/3 innings before he was relieved by another of Saint Ignatius' young, but oh so promising arms, sophomore right-hander MJ Nara. Nara put the finishing touches on the Wildcats' 18th victory in 24 games by slamming the door in the top of the seventh.

In improving his record to 6-0, Margevicius yielded five hits, struck out five and walked one. Sixty two of his 93 pitches were for strikes. Nara, who now has a lock on Saint Ignatius' closer role, shook off a lead-off walk and sealed the Wildcats' second victory over St. Edward in 12 days on a fly out to left field and two strikeouts.

"He's one of the fastest-working pitchers that we have, so he is fun to coach, it's fun to call pitches for him," Coach Donovan said of Margevicius. "And he really works hard on hitting his spots and executing his pitches, which makes my job easier. Quite frankly, he knows how to pitch to contact when he's falling behind.

"By the third or fourth inning today, he was able to throw his curve ball for a strike," Coach Donovan continued in his evaluation of Margevicius. "And when Nick can throw his breaking ball for a strike, everything else works and gets better. His fastball has more life on it and his change-up is more deceptive."

Speaking of deception, St. Edward's record now stands at a very deceiving 11-13.

The Eagles, who also lost to the Wildcats, 6-4, on April 30 at Baldwin Wallace, a game that saw St. Edward leading, 4-0, after four innings, had six hits to Saint Ignatius' four on Saturday.

Eagles head coach Joe Kasl got solid efforts on the mound from lefty Darien Knowles and right-hander Jarret Edwards.

That said, Saint Ignatius, a tight-knit club that has the versatility to beat you in different ways, complemented the efforts by Margevicius and Nara with another outstanding game defensively.

Senior second baseman and captain Dan Rowbottom, an Illinois recruit, made several nice stops on sharp ground balls, Khoury and senior shortstop and captain Tyler Finkler were vacuums again and one of the most underrated players in the area - senior third baseman Cole Nieto - came up with a play that would have made Brooks Robinson smile.

With one out in the top of the sixth, Nieto made a diving stop of a smoking grounder that had base hit written all over it, got up and fired to Khoury for the second out. How big was Nieto's effort in a 1-0 game? The next batter, Eagles designated hitter Adam Madias, singled to left.

"I really like that," said Margevicius of pitching in a no-room-for-error game. "It keeps the intensity up. You know you have to hit every spot."

JUNIOR VARSITY GAME: Trailing St. Edward, 3-0, Coach Tim Clark's JV Wildcats tied the score with three runs in the bottom of the second inning. The big blow was an RBI single to center field by shortstop Kurt Mantes.

St. Edward, playing small ball, took a 4-3 lead in the top of the fourth on a sacrifice fly by second baseman Sam Cepis.

Saint Ignatius responded again, this time with a three-run bottom of the fourth. After Mantes was hit by a pitch, the key moments that followed were a single to left by right fielder Dylan Smolen, a game-tying RBI single up the middle by center fielder Sam Fuller, a text-book sacrifice bunt by first baseman Nick Jackson, a take-the-lead RBI single by second baseman Mullen Socha and a run-scoring sacrifice fly by left fielder Ryan Alexander.

The Wildcats then took control with a two-run fifth that was highlighted by a single up the middle by third baseman Jake Kucia, a sacrifice bunt by Mantes and a single by Smolen that brought home the two runs.

St. Edward, which had a runner caught off third base for the game's final out with the bags loaded, lost for just the sixth time in 21 games. Saint Ignatius, which now stands 16-7-1, got four solid innings of relief from left-hander Brendan Adler.

FRESHMAN GAME: Miscues definitely helped tell the tale as the Wildcats' freshmen suffered just their third loss in 18 games.

After two big errors helped St. Edward score three times in the top of the fifth and take a 4-1 lead, Saint Ignatius responded with four runs in the bottom of the fifth. A base hit by Nick Freund, an RBI double by Jack Cook and a two-out, two-run single William Csiszar tied the score. The Wildcats took a 5-4 lead when pinch runner Brian Harrigal scored all the way from first base on a double to center field by Nick Mitchell.

The Eagles wouldn't be denied, however, as they took advantage of what was given them and came up with timely hits in scoring four times in the top of the seventh.           

'Cats-Rangers rained out
5/10/2013
     
5/10/2013

By Eddie Dwyer

In case you haven't heard by now, Friday night's Saint Ignatius at Lakewood junior varsity and varsity baseball games were defeated by a persistent rain.

Wildcats head coach Brad Ganor said there is a possibility of the varsity game with the Rangers being rescheduled for some time between OHSAA sectional and district play. Saint Ignatius is seeded second at the Strongsville Division I sectional/district and Lakewood is the second seed at the Lorain sectional/district.

The 'Cats begin OHSAA tournament play in a sectional final on May 17th at Baldwin Wallace University. The first pitch will be 4:30 p.m. Coach Ganor's team will face the winner of the May 16th sectional semifinal between the Rhodes Rams and the Braves from Berea.

****If Mother Nature cooperates, Saint Ignatius (17-6), winner of 12 of its past 13 games, will face St. Edward tomorrow (Saturday) in an all-levels triple header at Baldwin Wallace University. The freshman game is scheduled for 10 a.m., the junior varsity match up is slated for 1 p.m., and the second meeting between the Eagles and the Wildcats on the varsity level this season is on tap for 4 p.m.

Saint Ignatius rallied past St. Edward, 6-4, on April 30 at Baldwin Wallace University. The 'Cats trailed, 4-0, after four innings.

NOTE: Saturday's triple header at BW will benefit Tay-Sachs Disease research.

SIBN!: If you can't make it out to Saturday's games, John Fanta '13 and Co. will bring you all three games live over the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network.   

Wildcats baseball jumps out to a 7-0 lead and then turns back Stow, 11-9.
5/9/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2013

Senior infielder Jordan Bufford provides a clutch RBI insurance hit in the seventh inning, senior shortstop Tyler Finkler turns in another outstanding all-around performance and sophomore right-hander MJ Nara shuts the door with a runner on second base and the potential tying run at the plate in the bottom of the seventh.

With Nick Longo, Tyler Finkler, Conor Hennessey and Dan Rowbottom accounting for nine of the Wildcats' 13 hits, Saint Ignatius improves to 17-6 heading into Friday night's traditional doubleheader with the Lakewood Rangers in legendary Lakewood Stadium. The junior varsity match up is scheduled for 4:30 p.m., with the varsity game slated to follow at 7. The Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network will bring you the varsity game live from Bunts and Madison.  

****The corner sends out its congratulations to Wildcats senior basketball standouts Francisco Santiago and Derek Sloan, who were honored today as members of The Plain Dealer's 2012-13 seven-county All-Star Team. Francisco was named to the elite team and Derek was the recipient of Special Mention. Congratulations to "Cisco," Derek, their families, Coach Sean O'Toole '87 and the entire Saint Ignatius basketball program.

HERE IS THE FULL STORY ON THE SLUGFEST IN STOW.

SUMMIT COUNTY - Senior infielder Jordan Bufford is truly a sound example of Saint Ignatius' motto - "Men For Others."

Simply put, Jordan is there when you need him.

Bufford, one of the key parts in Coach Brad Ganor's deep, talented and flexible rotation, delivered a big insurance run with a two-out single off a high fastball in the top of the seventh inning on Thursday evening and the Wildcats went on to hold off the more-than-capable Stow Bulldogs, 11-9.

"That at-bat was just staying ready," said Bufford, moments after he helped Saint Ignatius to its 17th victory in 23 games and its 12 triumph in its past 13 outings. "I know my role on this team is to come off the bench and provide when needed. So it was all about staying ready and coming through.

"I relish it," Bufford continued while discussing his role for Coach Ganor. "I just want to produce when they ask me to. When I get into the game, I am always ready."

After two scoreless innings, the Wildcats, the second seed for this month's OHSAA Division I Strongsville sectional/district, appeared more than ready.

Making the most of two hits, two walks, a hit batsman and two Stow errors, Saint Ignatius took a 4-0 lead in the top of the third inning and stretched it to 7-0 with three runs in the top of the fourth.

Senior designated hitter/catcher Jagger Bruck, another player who answers the call when needed, lead off the third by drawing a walk and advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore catcher Alex Panstares. Bruck then moved to third base on a ground out by junior first baseman Joe Khoury.

It was at that point the Wildcats caught a big break, as a swinging third strike by gifted senior second baseman and captain Dan Rowbottom bounced away from the catcher. Bruck came home with the first run of the game and Rowbottom was safe at first.

Rowbottom promptly stole second base and came around to score on the first of three hits by junior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo. Longo advanced to second on an errant relay throw, standout senior shortstop and captain Tyler Finkler drew a walk, multi-skilled junior left fielder Nick Fabian was hit by a pitch and gritty senior center fielder and captain Conor Hennessey laced a two-out, two-run single through the left side.

Senior third baseman Cole Nieto, who has been rock-solid for Coach Ganor, got the three-run fourth inning started with a double down the left-field line. Bruck laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved Nieto to third and after the second out of the inning, Khoury produced an RBI single up the middle and stole second base. A line-drive RBI double the opposite way by the left-handed hitting Rowbottom and another run-scoring single by Longo made it a 7-0 game.

"Sometimes you have to win ugly," said Coach Ganor of what would take place over the next three and a half innings. "We were winning pretty and found a way to win ugly. But they're resilient, they've been resilient all season."

Saint Ignatius had to call on that resiliency more than once down the stretch as Stow (14-8) outscored the Wildcats, 9-4, from bottom of the fourth on.

The Bulldogs turned two walks, a wild pitch and a two-out RBI single by their impressive sophomore first baseman Parker Henderson into a run in the fourth. Henderson went 3-for-3 on the day with a sacrifice fly and three runs batted in.

Saint Ignatius responded with two runs in the top of the fifth.

Finkler led off the fifth with a single, advanced to second on a passed ball and, in what was an impressive display of wheels, scored from second on a pitch in the dirt that bounced away from the catcher. Hennessey bunted for a base hit, stole second and third, and came home on a sacrifice fly to deep right center by Nieto. Wildcats' stats gurus Mac Robinson '11 and Marco Valetta '11 pointed out that Hennessey now has 22 stolen bases on the season, five shy of tying the all-time single-season record set by University of Notre Dame standout Frank DeSico '09.

Trailing, 9-1, the Bulldogs still had plenty of bark left, as the team from East Graham Road combined five hits and some heads-up base running into four runs in the bottom of the fifth. Henderson's second RBI single made it 9-5.

Once again, Saint Ignatius was able to respond as Rowbottom, an Illinois recruit, scorched a one-out single to left and moved to second on a nice read off a pitch in the dirt. A single to right by Longo put runners on first and third, and then Finkler, who did everything but drive the bus home, put down a text-book squeeze bunt that scored Rowbottom from third.

"I think it's just a matter of the whole team standing up and having real good energy the entire game," said Bufford of the 'Cats' ability to shake off Stow's final blows. "When we need to pull out a win, we do it. We've shown that the past few weeks."

The Bulldogs landed a few on the chin in the bottom of the sixth, scoring four more times en route to making it a one-run game. The key moments for the home team were a one-out, two-run single by senior right fielder Bryan Reginald and a bases-loaded, two-out run-scoring sacrifice fly to right field by Henderson.

With runners on first and third and two outs, Saint Ignatius' sophomore right-handed relief pitcher, MJ "Ice in his veins" Nara, ended the sixth by coaxing a pop out to Finkler.

Coach Ganor's team would then ride a two-out, pinch-hit single by senior Kevin Hagen, a stolen base by sophomore pinch runner Sam Fuller and Bufford's key hit to the final run of the game.

Nara, after getting two quick outs in the bottom of the seventh, yielded a single to junior shortstop Mike Urban. However, after Urban stole second base, Nara settled the issue with a strikeout off a 3-2 pitch.

"MJ did a nice job," said Coach Ganor. "We made a determination that he was going to win it or lose it. He was going to grow up today and pitch like a varsity player. And he certainly did that in the seventh. Tyler Finkler had one of the more impressive base running days since I've been at Saint Ignatius, and he's not the fastest guy that we've ever had. But certainly some of the best instincts. That second to home play, you don't see high school kids do that! And that is why the colleges like him."   

 

Saint Ignatius baseball makes itself at home at NDCL.
5/8/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2013

Shane Skuhrovec turns in an outstanding performance on the mound and displays a capable bat, the 'Cats set the tempo with a three-run first inning and the defense makes its case again.

It all added up to an 8-0 victory over Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin in the Lions' baseball den on Wednesday evening.

Up next for Saint Ignatius is a trip to Stow on Thursday for a 4:30 match up with the Bulldogs. Senior right-hander Matt Lynch will be on the mound for the gold-jersey donned Wildcats.

****Congratulations go out to former Saint Ignatius baseball standout Derek Dietrich '07, who made his major league debut on Wednesday afternoon with the Miami Marlins (see the corner's post from earlier today). Derek went 1-for-3 in a 1-0 loss to the San Diego Padres. His hit came in first MLB at-bat - a 1-0 pitch single to right field.

****And congrats to the Wildcats' freshman baseball team, which improved to 15-2 by defeating host NDCL, 11-1, and Saint Ignatius' lacrosse team for defeating Westlake, 14-4, on Wasmer Field Wednesday night. Keying the Wildcats' fifth consecutive victory and 11th in 12 games were Garrett Joseph (4 goals), Mike Advey (3 goals) and Danny Hennessy (2 goals- no relation and different spelling to Conor Hennessey). And last, but certainly not least, a tip of racket to Coach Jon Barker's tennis team for prevailing at Western Reserve Academy on Wednesday, 3-2. That's 11 in a row for Coach Barker's team as it gears up for next week's sectional play.    

HERE IS THE FULL STORY ON WEDNESDAY'S VARSITY BASEBALL TRIUMPH AT NDCL.

Geauga County - They weren't yelling "Shane, come back" on Auburn Road early Wednesday evening.

In fact, if some of Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin's faithful never see Saint Ignatius' 6-foot-3 junior right-hander Shane Skuhrovec again, it might be too soon.

The quiet, but gritty Skuhrovec, making his first varsity start after some strong work out of the bullpen this season, shut down one of Ohio's strongest baseball programs en route to the Wildcats' 8-0 victory at NDCL.

A player who does whatever is asked of him - pitch, play the outfield or DH, Skuhrovec didn't even know he was going to start against the Lions until first period at school on Wednesday.

"Coach (Brad) Ganor pulled me out of class and said Nick Fabian's back was hurting (spasms) and that he wanted me to come in here and get the job done," said Skuhrovec, who limited the always sound bats of NDCL to four hits before being relieved by senior right-hander and captain Kyle Pluta with one out in the bottom of the seventh. "I said, 'Yeah, I can do it.'"

True to his words, Skuhrovec kept the Lions (12-9) off balance for most of the late afternoon and early evening and got the offensive and defensive support every pitcher appreciates.

Saint Ignatius (16-6), having now won 11 of its past 12 games, jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning and never looked back.

Senior second baseman, captain and Illinois recruit Dan Rowbottom keyed the first-inning surge with a leadoff triple to the gap in deep right-center field. Senior center fielder and captain Conor Hennessey hit a too-hot-to-handle grounder through the left side for an RBI and junior right fielder Nick Longo followed with a single to right center.

The Wildcats then flashed their aggressive base running, as Longo, a Miami of Ohio recruit, broke for second and Hennessey came flying home on the throw to second. Hennessey will enter Thursday's game at Stow with 22 stolen bases, five shy of tying Saint Ignatius' all-time single season mark set by University of Notre Dame standout Frank DeSico '09.

Continuing to put the pressure on, Longo, running on the pitch, came all the way around from second and scored on a ground out to the right side off the bat of senior third baseman Cole Nieto.

Skuhrovec, who shook off a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first and a two-out walk and a single in the bottom of the second, coaxed a 4-6-3 double play with runners on first and third and one out in the bottom of the third.

"My fastball, my four-seam and two-seam, were working really well and I started finding my slider later in the game," Skuhrovec said after he threw 100 pitches, 60 of which were strikes. "I felt relaxed, comfortable."

Saint Ignatius' infield, led by Rowbottom and senior shortstop and captain Tyler Finkler, turned in another marvelous performance. Rowbottom, Finkler and sure-handed junior first baseman Joe Khoury were part of three key double plays.

The Wildcats, who out hit the Lions, 9-4, pushed their lead to 5-0 in the top of the fourth. Nieto led off with a single through the left side and advanced to second on a good read off a pitch in the dirt. Skuhrovec then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to the left side and was safe at first on a throwing error. Junior left fielder Kyle Daugenti followed with a sacrifice fly to deep left center that scored Nieto and Khoury delivered a two-out RBI single down the left field line.

Skuhrovec's hustle double, more aggressive base running and Khoury's RBI sacrifice fly had the 'Cats purring to the tune of a 7-0 lead in the top of the sixth.

A two-out double by Nieto and the ensuing RBI single by Skuhrovec closed out the scoring in the top of the seventh.

"That's a pretty good job, a pretty good job," said Coach Ganor of Skuhrovec's first starting assignment on the mound. "He did more than we could have hoped for in my opinion. Offensively we pressured them from the first inning on and never really let up.

"I can't say enough about the defense," Coach Ganor continued. "Double plays are not easy to turn. We turned a couple of really nice ones, not just tailor made. We got the week started on a positive note as we look towards May 17th (the OHSAA Division I sectional finals)."  

Derek Dietrich Called up by Miami. He will be in the starting line-up today.
5/8/2013

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor told the corner today that former Wildcats and Georgia Tech great Derek Dietrich was called up to the Marlins' major league club and will be in the starting lineup today for Miami. Coach Ganor said Derek will play second base and hit second in the order against San Diego at 3:05 EST.

Congratulations to Derek and his family.

15-6 Saint Ignatius Baseball Plays Four Games in Four Days This Week
5/6/2013

Posted by Eddie Dwyer

BASEBALL: Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats (15-6), coming off a strong performance in the Ohio Jesuit Tournament and a second seed for the OHSAA Strongsville Division I sectional/district (see the corner's stories from Sunday afternoon), embark on another demanding week.

The Wildcats, winners of 10 of their past 11 games, travel to tradition-rich Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin (4:30) on Wednesday and on Thursday it is off to Stow (4;30). The Stow Bulldogs agreed to host the 'Cats after Cuyahoga Falls canceled for Thursday.

Saint Ignatius will be at storied Lakewood Stadium on Friday for the traditional junior varsity (4:30) and varsity (7 p.m.) doubleheader with the Rangers, and on Saturday morning and afternoon it is another great tradition - the triple header (freshman, junior varsity and varsity) against West Side rival St. Edward at Baldwin Wallace University. The action begins at 10 a.m., with the varsity game slated for 4 p.m.

NOTE: Saturday's triple header will benefit the research for Tay-Sachs Disease.

 

Saint Ignatius - Cuyahoga Falls Game on 5/9 Canceled; Replaced with Stow
5/6/2013

Posted by Eddie Dwyer

Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor told the corner this afternoon that Cuyahoga Falls has canceled its Thursday game versus the Wildcats and that Saint Ignatius will now travel to Stow on Thursday afternoon.  

Wildcats baseball seeded second at Strongsville sectional/district.
5/5/2013

By Eddie Dwyer

Coach Brad Ganors' varsity baseball Wildcats garnered the second seed for the upcoming Strongsville OHSAA Division I sectional/district tournament.

Brecksville-Broadview Heights was seeded No. 1 and the Strongsville Mustangs are the third seed.

The Wildcats will begin postseason play on May 17th with a sectional-final match up against the winner of the Rhodes versus Berea semifinal. The May 17th sectional final will be played at Baldwin Wallace University at 4:30.

If successful on May 17th, Saint Ignatius will begin district play on May 23. The district will be held at Strongsville High School.     

 

A savvy five-run sixth, the grit of southpaw Tom Rolle and a Tyler Finkler-fueled defense lead the 'Cats past the Titans, 7-2.
5/5/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2013

Senior captain Dan Rowbottom fuels the five-run outburst with a clutch two-rout, two-RBI hit, and senior captain Conor Hennessey and junior Nick Longo also provide big RBIs, as all five runs score after two outs.

Senior shortstop Tyler Finkler climbs the ladder for a highlight-reel double play, senior third baseman Cole Nieto and junior infielder Quillen Austria set the table in the sixth with text-book bunts, and crafty senior southpaw Tom Rolle (4-0) throws six gritty innings in helping the Wildcats go 2-1 in the talent-laden Ohio Jesuit Tournament.

After winning for the 10th time in their past 11 games, Coach Brad Ganor's 'Cats now stand at 15-6. The Titans from Toledo St. John's Jesuit lost for the fourth time in 15 games.

HERE IS THE STORY FROM A SUN-DRENCHED AND BLUE-SKIED CLASSIC PARK.

Lake County - Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor said that before Sunday's game versus Toledo St. John's Jesuit, he challenged his Wildcats "to prove that they are a great team."

Challenge accepted and answered.

Saint Ignatius, coming off a dramatic victory over perennial power Walsh Jesuit on Saturday morning and then a tough loss to Cincinnati St. Xavier on Saturday night (see the corner's story from Saturday), took control of a game that was tied with a "sweet sixth" inning and defeated St. John's Jesuit, 7-2 in the finale of the Ohio Jesuit Tournament at Classic Park in Eastlake.

The Wildcats, who have been playing sound and clutch baseball over the past three weeks, scored five runs after there were two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Sophomore right-hander MJ Nara closed the door in the top of the seventh after senior southpaw Tom Rolle pitched with heart and poise through six innings. Tom finished with a five-hitter, 49 strikes on his 79 pitches, two walks and four strikeouts.

"I asked them to come back strong today after a disappointing game from last night and they did it and took care of business ," said Coach Ganor. "Tom Rolle did a phenomenal job and Dan (Rowbottom), of course, doing what everybody expects him to do. And he did it."

Rowbottom, a senior second baseman, one of the Wildcats' four captains and a three-year varsity mainstay, delivered a two-out, two-run line drive base hit off an 0-1 pitch that gave Saint Ignatius a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth.

Senior designated hitter Kevin Hagen was hit by a pitch leading off the bottom of the sixth, junior outfielder Kyle Daugenti pinch ran for Hagen and senior third baseman Cole Nieto laid down a perfect bunt to the right side and beat it out for a base hit. Junior infielder Quillen Austria, one of the heroes in Saturday's triumph over Walsh Jesuit, stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter and placed down a picture-perfect sacrifice bunt that put runners on second and third.

After St. John's Jesuit right-hander Brock Connor struck out the next batter, Rowbottom, an Illinois recruit, stepped up big time and his teammates followed suite.

Senior shortstop Tyler Finlker, who flashed the leather all day on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Classic Park, drew a walk and Rowbottom came around to score on an RBI single to right field by senior captain and center fielder Conor Hennessey. A stolen base by Hennessey and another hit batsman loaded the bases, and junior right fielder Nick Longo capped the five-run sixth by driving a single to right that scored Finkler and the heads-up Hennessey. Longo and junior left fielder Nick Fabian drove in Saint Ignatius' first two runs of the game.  

"This was a big showing by our guys, the pitching staff especially, " said Rowbottom, who is as classy as he is talented. "Like I said before, we hadn't won a game in the Jesuit Tournament in about three years. So getting these wins and showing these teams that we compete is definitely big. That's the main thing, we're showing every other team in the state that we can compete with the top programs.

"That was Coach Ganor's goal, at least two out of three," Rowbottom continued. "It was a good weekend. With our offense, we're never out of a game."

And the 'Cats' defense was also purring under the friendly clouds of Lake County.

Rowbottom and Finkler had the 4-6-3 clicking, Rolle came off the mound to make three athletic plays, including a 1-5 force at third, junior Joe Khoury flashed his Vic Power-like picks on throws to first base and, in what was the Wildcats' web gem of the season so far, Finkler displayed his best Derek Jeter by soaring in the air in the top of the fifth and making a one-handed catch of a line drive that had gap shot written all over it. Tyler, who never lost his balance as he landed, then ran over to second and doubled the runner off base.

"He's the best," said a smiling Rowbottom of his middle infield partner.

The 'Cats will have to continue to be at their best this coming week as they travel to tradition-rich Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin (4:30) and Cuyahoga Falls (4:30, Water Works Park) on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, will be at storied Lakewood Stadium on Friday for the traditional junior varsity (4:30) and varsity (7 p.m.) doubleheader with the Rangers, and on Saturday morning and afternoon it is another great tradition - the triple header (freshman, junior varsity and varsity) against West Side rival St. Edward at Baldwin Wallace University. The action begins at 10 a.m.

****Saturday's triple header will benefit the fight against Tay-Sachs Disease.

****ONE THE BASEPATHS: Conor Hennessey now has 20 stolen bases on the season. The 'Cats' all-time single-season mark is 27 by former Saint Ignatius great and current University of Notre Dame standout Frank DeSico.

 

Wildcats stage a dramatic seventh-inning comeback and defeat Walsh Jesuit, 5-4.
5/4/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2013

Trailing, 4-0, entering the bottom of the seventh, Saint Ignatius stuns the Warriors with five runs in Saturday morning's opening game of the talent-laden Ohio Jesuit Tournament at Classic Park.

Cole Nieto, Quillen Austria and Joe Khoury provide the crucial hits, with Austria sending a game-tying, two-run double down the right-field line off a fastball down and away, and Khoury coming up with a single through the right side for the game winner.

The Wildcats took a nine-game winning streak into Saturday night's match up with Cincinnati St. Xavier, which the Bombers won, 6-3. A recap on the St. Xavier game follows the Saint Ignatius-Walsh Jesuit game story.

*With Saturday's split, the 'Cats will take a record of 14-6 into Sunday's OJT finals against Toledo St. John's Jesuit. According to Saint Ignatius' tournament program, the first pitch from Classic Park on Sunday is high noon. Sunday's other OJT final will match St. Xavier (14-9) against Walsh Jesuit (16-4) at Walsh Jesuit, with the first pitch listed as 12:30 p.m.   

LAKE COUNTY - Saint Ignatius' junior infielder Quillen Austria had just come up with the biggest hit of his young baseball career.

However, in what was a very sincere and humble manner, Austria said he didn't know what to say.

The young man they call "Q" sure knew what to do.

Austria, called on to pinch hit in the bottom of the seventh inning with no outs and the bases loaded, delivered a scorching liner over first base and down the right-field for a two-run double that tied the score and came home on junior first baseman Joe Khoury's one-out, game-winning single through the right side, as the Wildcats overcame a four-run deficit against Walsh Jesuit and defeated the Warriors, 5-4, in Saturday's annual Ohio Jesuit Tournament at Classic Park in Eastlake.

The heroics provided by Austria and Khoury, which came against Walsh Jesuit's senior ace Joe Mockbee, were part of what Saint Ignatius' veteran head coach Brad Ganor described as one of the biggest innings in the Wildcats' rich baseball history.

"I had no idea," said Austria after being told that his dramatic hit came against a left-hander who is bound for the University of Cincinnati on a baseball scholarship. "I just went up there trying to get the job done, trying to just put the ball in play and make them make a play. I guess it happened. Walsh is a great team and it was a great game."

Describing Saturday's annual Ohio Jesuit Tournament encounter between the Warriors and the Wildcats as "great" is no exaggeration.

Walsh Jesuit, ranked among the state's best in this past week's Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association's Division I poll, rode the pitching of sophomore left-hander Ty Shoaff and a three-run top of the seventh to its 4-0 lead. Shoaff entered the game with a record of 3-0.

The key at-bats in the Warriors' seventh were a leadoff single by sophomore first baseman Ryan Feltner, a sacrifice bunt by sophomore designated hitter Connor Regan, an RBI single to left center by sophomore second baseman Riley Minorik and a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by junior infielder Kyle Holdsworth. Walsh Jesuit also took advantage of a throwing error off a relay that saw the ball end up in the Warriors' dugout.

"I would think so," said Coach Ganor, when asked if he thought Saturday was one of the greatest comebacks in his nine seasons as the Wildcats' head coach. "I was thinking when it was 4-2 that OK, they fought and battled, and that I would have been pretty proud of them. The fact that they were able to put an inning like that together against one of the top teams in the state just shows that this team is special.

"It was exciting that we were able to win the game," Coach Ganor continued. "But it's even more exciting to see guys get opportunities and perform. These guys are coming in during huge situations and producing."

After being kept off-balance by Shoaff for most of the first six innings, Saint Ignatius again found the inner strength that has epitomized its nine-game winning streak.

Senior center fielder and captain Conor Hennessey, whose grit and baseball savvy are evident on almost every play, led off the bottom of the seventh by taking one for the team. Five-tool junior left fielder Nick Fabian then lined a 3-2 pitch into left center putting runners on first and second.

Junior right-hander Tim Benner replaced Shoaff on the mound and was greeted by a single from junior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo.

With the bases loaded and no outs, senior third baseman Cole Nieto, who turned in another solid day at the hot corner, followed with an RBI single through the left side. An error on the relay throw allowed Fabian to score the 'Cats' second run and also saw Longo and Nieto advance to third base and second base, respectively.

Versatile junior designated hitter Shane Skuhrovec then drew a walk, setting the stage for the memorable swings by Austria and Khoury. Mockbee came out of the Warriors' bullpen after the walk to Skuhrovec.

"It was huge that we got it started with the other guys, obviously," said Khoury of his game winner. "For my at bat, I was looking for something I could elevate. I wanted something higher in the zone, so I could elevate it for a sac fly. But it got through the infield, so ---. OJT (Ohio Jesuit Tournament) against Walsh, it's huge."

Along with the big hits, Saint Ignatius got a gutsy performance from junior left-hander Nick Margevicius.

In going the distance and improving to 5-0 on the season, Margevicius yielded five hits, walked one and struck out four.

ST. XAVIER 6, SAINT IGNATIUS 3: The Bombers jumped on the Wildcats for four runs in the top of the first inning in a Classic Park match up that didn't end until almost 9 p.m.

The big hits for St. Xavier in the first inning were a one-out RBI single to left field by sophomore shortstop Jonathon Deifel and a two-out, two-run single to right by sophomore left fielder Justin Hilliard.

A member of Cincinnati's Greater Catholic League, the Bombers took advantage of two walks, a fielder's choice and a wild pitch in making it a 5-0 game in the top of the third.

Saint Ignatius, looking for their second comeback on Saturday, scored three times in the bottom of the third. Promising sophomore catcher Alex Panstares got the Wildcats' offense started with a solo home run to left field and senior captain and center fielder Conor Hennessey would cut the deficit to 5-3 with a sacrifice fly to deep center field.

Panstares had two hits and a walk on the night and he also threw out two runners attempting to steal second base.

With Saint Ignatius' senior right-hander and captain Kyle Pluta keeping the Wildcats in the game with a strong effort out of the bullpen, Coach Brad Ganor's team threatened in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

However, St. Xavier, which got some nice relief work from Ryan Shaw, put up an insurance run in the top of the seventh courtesy of another RBI single by Deifel.

Saint Ignatius, which outhit the Bombers, 11-7,  had runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the seventh after Hennessey beat out an infield hit and junior left fielder Nick Fabian singled to right field.

Shaw was equal to challenge, however, as he ended the game with back-to-back strikeouts.

"We've talked for weeks about how the mark of a good team is how they fight and come back," said Coach Ganor. "And I firmly believe that the mark of a great team is a team that can come back tomorrow and start over again. That's what good baseball teams do and that's what I expect we're going to do tomorrow (Sunday)."

We're talking baseball
5/3/2013

By Eddie Dwyer

Just a reminder that the Saint Ignatius Wildcats' varsity baseball team will be hosting the talent-laden Ohio Jesuit Tournament on Saturday and Sunday at Classic Park in Eastlake.

Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats (13-5), riding an eight-game winning streak, will face perennial Ohio power Walsh Jesuit in Saturday's opening game at 10 a.m. Coach Chris Kaczmar's Warriors stand 15-3 after splitting their North Coast League match ups with tradition-rich Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin this week. The Lions of NDCL won on their home field, 2-1, and the Warriors bounced back with a 10-4 victory on the campus of Walsh Jesuit.

At 5:30 on Saturday, Saint Ignatius will take on the hot bats of Cincinnati St. Xavier. St. X entered today's (Friday) game with LaSalle sporting an 11-9 record.

On Sunday, it's a 12:30 first pitch with the always baseball sound Titans from St. John's Jesuit. The Titans are 11-1 heading into tonight's (Friday) game against Ashland.

NOTE: For a look at the programs from Walsh Jesuit, St. Xavier and St. John's Jesuit, check out the corner's weekly feature "Where the 'Cats play," which was posted on Monday evening. "Where the 'Cats play" also includes a breakdown on where all of Saint Ignatius' spring sports teams will be competing this weekend.

And, if you can't make it out to Classic Park this weekend, John "I haven't seen a curveball I couldn't hit" Fanta and his veteran sidekick, Greg Ziton, will provide the action live with video over the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network. The corner will also be on hand for game coverage. One of the highlights from Saturday will be John Fanta's bold Kentucky Derby pick. Can the pride of St. Bernadette make it two in a row? 

Enjoy the weather and have a safe weekend. As the late, great Stark County sports columnist and radio personality Hymie Williams would always say, "Good Bye until the next time, which will be the best time." 

Doing the job. Saint Ignatius baseball defeats a solid Kenston team at Classic Park.
5/2/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright May 2013

Dan Rowbottom and Tyler Finkler each provide two RBIs, Nick Longo and Joe Khoury flash the leather and Shane Skuhrovec and Kyle Pluta provide solid stints out of the bullpen as the Wildcats extend their winning streak to eight games with a 7-2 victory over Kenston.

Up next for the 'Cats is the talent-laden Ohio Jesuit Tournament on Saturday and Sunday at Classic Park. Saint Ignatius faces perennial state power Walsh Jesuit in Saturday's opening game at 10 a.m. For a preview on the Jesuit Tournament, see the corner's "Where the 'Cats play" that was posted on Monday night.

*****Congratulations go out to Saint Ignatius' standout junior left fielder/pitcher Nick Fabian, who is being honored by The Plain Dealer this week as one of its Players of the Week.

Lake County - After an emotional comeback victory over West Side rival St. Edward on Tuesday, Saint Ignatius was not nearly as emotional while going about its job against Kenston in sun-drenched Classic Park on Wednesday.

And understandably so.

With all due respect to Kenston and the other baseball-gifted teams that laden the Wildcats' schedule, it has been well documented that there is absolutely something very special about Saint Ignatius versus St. Edward.

That said, the Wildcats, playing with the pride that goes hand-in-hand with the name on their caps and uniforms, did what was needed to get done en route to a 7-2 victory over a very representative program from Kenston.

"I think it was what I expected, we were a little slow today," said Saint Ignatius head coach Brad Ganor after his team improved to 13-5. "There wasn't a lot of emotion in the win. But, they are athletic and good baseball players, and they took care of business."

The Wildcats, who won for the eighth consecutive time, rode the hot bat of senior second baseman and captain Dan Rowbottom to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. An Illinois recruit, Dan led off with an opposite way ringing double to left field. After senior shortstop and captain Tyler Finkler was hit by a pitch, senior center fielder and captain Conor Hennessey laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that advanced the runners to second and third.

Standout junior Nick Fabian, who got the starting assignment on the mound, delivered the run with a sacrifice fly.

Fabian, a five-tool player who was coming off an outstanding all-around game against St. Edward, faced a no-outs, bases-loaded situation in the top of the second.

However, Fabian reached back and got a strikeout, benefited from a nice 5-2 force orchestrated by senior third baseman Cole Nieto and junior catcher Pat Gulick, and left the them loaded when he got the next batter to pop out to Finkler.

Saint Ignatius, which will know its draw for this month's sectional/district tournament after the Division I seeding meeting on Sunday, built itself a little cushion by scoring three times in the bottom half of the second. All three runs came home after two outs.

With one out, senior designated hitter Kevin Hagen drew a walk. After the second out, junior left fielder/pitcher Shane Skuhrovec lined a single into left center. With Hagen and Skurovec moving on the pitch, they both advanced a base on a pitch that bounced in the dirt. Up stepped Rowbottom and Dan scorched another double the opposite way, this time to left center, and the 'Cats led, 3-0.

Finkler then followed with an RBI single up the middle that pushed Saint Ignatius' advantage to 4-0.

Kenston (12-3), which was coming off a tough 5-4, extra-inning loss to rival Chagrin Falls, had runners on second and third with one out in the top of the third after center fielder Peter Rozman doubled to right. Again, Fabian reached down for something extra and recorded a strikeout. The threat ended when junior first baseman Joe Khoury made a slick unassisted stop of a sharp grounder.

Junior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo got the Wildcats' offense started in the bottom of the third by lacing a single to right field. After Nieto flied out to right field, the right fielder attempted to double Longo off first base. His throw sailed past the first baseman, however, and ended up in Saint Ignatius' dugout. Longo was awarded third base and came home on a single off the bat of Hagen that dropped into right field.

Trailing, 5-0, Kenston loaded the bases again in the top of the fourth. First baseman Jimmy Artale led off with a single to left, catcher Mitch Lyon drew a one-out walk and a hit batsman had the bases juiced.

After a passed ball made it a 5-1 game, Skuhrovec, who came on in relief of Fabian in the fourth, got the next batter on a 1-3 bouncer back to the mound. An all-out diving catch in right field by Longo, an effort that saw Nick hit his side as he landing, roll over and still hold on to the ball, ended what had the makings of a big inning for Kenston.

With two outs and nobody on base, Saint Ignatius answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth.

Hennessey, who was hit by pitch, wasted little time in stealing second base. Junior Kyle Daugenti, who replaced Skuhrovec in left field, drew a walk and Hennessey took off for third and scored when the throw from the catcher when down the line and into foul territory. Hennessey's three stolen bases on the afternoon give him 17 for the season.  

Kenston wasn't about to call it an evening, however, as Rozman delivered a leadoff triple to the gap in right center in the top of the fifth and scored on a one-out fielder's choice.

Following a 1-2-3 top of the sixth by Skuhrovec that featured two strikeouts, Rowbottom singled up the middle for his third hit with one out in the bottom of the sixth, advanced to third on an errant pick-off attempt and scored on a sharp grounder by Finkler. Skuhrovec threw 27 pitches, 20 for strikes, yielded one hit, a run, struck out two and did not issue a walk.

Senior right-hander and captain Kyle Pluta shut down Kenston in the seventh and benefited from a smooth, running over-the-shoulder catch in foul territory by Khoury.

"We want to play the best competition we can," said Rowbottom, referring to teams such as St. Edward, Kenston and the Jesuit Tournament. "As for the Jesuit Tournament, we haven't done well for the past few years. That's why Coach Ganor schedules the toughest teams he can. These are the type of games that will prepare us for what we are going to see in the (OHSAA) tournament."

 

Wildcats overcome a four-run deficit and go on to defeat St. Edward, 6-4, at Baldwin Wallace University.
4/30/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April-May 2013

Trailing, 4-0, after four innings, Saint Ignatius scores a run in the top of the fifth, four in the sixth and adds an insurance tally in the seventh.

Dan Rowbottom, Cole Nieto, Nick Longo and Nick Fabian provide clutch hits, Fabian, Longo and Conor Hennessey are stellar defensively and Matt Lynch, Kyle Pluta and MJ Nara do a solid job out of the bullpen.

The Wildcats extend their winning streak to seven games and will take a 12-5 record into tomorrow's (Wednesday) match up with a solid Kenston team at Classic Park. Nick Fabian will be on the mound for the 4:30 first pitch. Kenston is 12-2 after a 5-4 loss at Chagrin Falls on Tuesday.  

Berea, Ohio - As he stood along the third-base line early Tuesday night, Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor spoke of how proud he was of his team.

And it wasn't just because his Wildcats had rallied their way past longtime rival St. Edward, 6-4, on the quaint and atmosphere-rich diamond at Baldwin Wallace University. Although Coach Ganor also made his thoughts clear on how important the storied West Side rivalry is.

It was the way Saint Ignatius refused to quit after the 'Cats struggled to generate any offense through the first four innings that left Coach Ganor and his assistants - Josh Bieneman, Matt Blazer and Mark Terlep - beaming as bright as the sunshine that hovered over the campus of Baldwin Wallace.

"The biggest thing as to why I am proud of them is the fact that they fought and battled," said Coach Ganor. "Losing to St. Eds stinks and we don't want it to happen. I don't care what anybody says, it stinks when you lose to them.

"They found a way to win the game and that is a mark of a great baseball team," Coach Ganor continued. "Right there, that game, getting beat by a good pitcher and fighting to come back. He (St. Edward's talented and crafty junior right-hander Jon Laird) was dealing and we found a way to get guys on, scrap a few runs and put the pressure on. That's the best we've played in many years, as far as the intestinal fortitude and passion they showed."

St. Edward (7-8), with Laird keeping Saint Ignatius' potent offense off balance with his breaking stuff and a fastball that was more than capable, took a 4-0 lead into the fifth inning.

The Eagles jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second one a one-out, bases loaded double to the gap in left-center field by sophomore third baseman Mason DeAnna. Saint Ignatius starter Tom Rolle prevented further damage in that inning by charging off the mound, fielding a bunt with his left or pitching hand and firing a throw to home plate. Wildcats sophomore catcher Alex Panstares made a nice catch and tag, and Rolle then ended the inning with a strikeout.

St. Edward, under the direction of new head coach Joe Kasl, combined a leadoff base hit by senior center fielder Kyle Wasil, a stolen base by Wasil and a sharp RBI single up the middle by senior first baseman Cory Jacobs into a 3-0 lead in the third.

It was Saint Ignatius' defense that again stuck a thumb in the hole of the dam in the bottom of the third.

Following Jacobs' RBI, the Eagles had runners on second and third with no outs. Thanks to a highlight-reel throw from left field by Wildcats five-tool junior Nick Fabian to standout senior third baseman Cole Nieto, and the ensuing one-the-money relay throw by Nieto to Panstares, the 'Cats pulled off a 7-5-2 double play.

Junior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo came up with the final out of the third on an all-out hustling diving catch in foul territory deep down the right-field line.

St. Edward would make it a 4-0 game in the bottom of the fourth by successfully combining an error, a single into center field by junior shortstop Will DeVito off a hit and run, and a pitch in the dirt that bounced away.

Fabian, a player this corner has told you about all season, prevented a fifth run from crossing the plate in the Eagles' fourth when he fielded a base hit and, in one motion, fired a throw to home plate to nail the runner who was trying to score from second. The ball seemed to have a humming sound to it as it sailed on a line from Fabian's arm to the dish.

Riding the emotion of Fabian's second of three defensive gems, Saint Ignatius got to Laird for a run in the top of the fifth. A line-drive single to right by Nieto, a one-out walk to senior pinch-hitter Kevin Hagen and a two-out RBI single by senior second baseman and captain Dan Rowbottom cut the deficit to 4-1.

After senior right-hander Matt Lynch pitched a scoreless bottom of the fifth for the Wildcats, Saint Ignatius kept chipping away against Laird.

Fabian led off the sixth with a single up the middle and Longo followed with a double to deep right field. At that point, Coach Kasl went to his bullpen and called on junior Michael Cuva. Nieto, who has been swinging his bat with authority, delivered a two-run single to right field that made it a one-run game.

Sophomore Sam Fuller, who was just called up from the junior varsity, went in to pinch run for Nieto and promptly stole second base. Junior infielder Quillen Austria then drew a walk in a pinch-hitter's role and St. Edward called on its bullpen again, bringing in senior Connor Faix.

Following a strikeout by Faix. Wildcats versatile junior Shane Skuhrovec hit a slow roller to the left side and clearly had it beat for a base hit. However, the infielder, instead of holding on to the ball, fired it to first and it sailed past the first baseman. Fuller scored the tying run and Austria moved to third, where he would score the go-ahead run off a sacrifice fly to deep right center by Rowbottom.

"None of us expected St. Eds to be as good as they are," said Rowbottom, an Illinois recruit. "Those guys were good pitchers, probably as good as we've seen all year. Even though we started slow, we knew we would get going. Our offense has been awesome lately. I think the coolest thing about this game was that everybody was doing their job. It's exciting to watch, it really is."

That excitement continued in the bottom of the sixth, as senior right-hander and captain Kyle Pluta came on for Coach Ganor and got two outs on a pop up to Nieto and a strikeout. With a runner on second and two outs, Fabian put together his third highlight effort by galloping from deep left field and running down a pop fly in foul territory. The kid's got wheels my friends.

"I describe him as a gazelle to every college coach that has come to see him,'" said Coach Ganor of Fabian.

Saint Ignatius added a little insurance in the top of the seventh by turning an error, a hit batsman, a Baltimore Chop to the left side by junior first baseman Joe Khoury and a passed ball into its sixth and final run.

MJ Nara, a sophomore right-hander with ice in his veins, closed the door in the bottom of the seventh with two strikeouts. Nara also benefited from another web gem by the 'Cats - a diving one-handed catch in deep center field by senior captain Conor Hennessey that preceded the Ks. Conor also came up with his 13th and 14th stolen bases of the season.

"Matt Lynch, Kyle Pluta and MJ Nara did a phenomenal job in those fifth, sixth and seventh innings, getting out of a few jams," Coach Ganor said. "It just shows that these kids are great baseball players with tons of will power."  

 

Big Games Fill the Week for Red Hot Saint Ignatius Baseball
4/29/2013

 

By Eddie Dwyer

Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats are gearing up for what is always the biggest week of the regular season, a five-game stretch that begins with Tuesday's match up against West Side rival St. Edward at Baldwin Wallace University and an intriguing Wednesday game in Classic Park versus one of the hottest teams in Ohio – Kenston. The first pitch is scheduled for 4:30 on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The week is culminated by the annual Ohio Jesuit Baseball Tournament on Saturday and Sunday at Classic Park.

Saint Ignatius (11-5), which brings a six-game winning streak into this week's action and has produced 28 hits and 18 runs in its last two games combined (see the corner's stories from last week), will begin Jesuit Tournament play on
Saturday morning at 10 against perennial state power Walsh Jesuit. Saturday will also include a game against one of Cincinnati's all-time best - St. Xavier. Saint Ignatius and St. Xavier are expected to match skills at 5:30 p.m.

The 'Cats will wrap up Jesuit Tournament play on Sunday at 12:30 versus St. John's Jesuit. And win or lose, you always walk away remembering those Titans from Toledo.

Here is a look at this week's opponents.

St. Edward: The Eagles, under the direction of new head coach Joe Kasl, entered this week’s action with a .500 record against a demanding schedule. St. Edward was defeated by Midview, 9-4, at Bohlken Park on Friday, a game that saw the Eagles draw nine walks and leave 12 runners on base. Coach Kasl, who features a very capable and big-game tested
offense, got a solid effort out of his bullpen from Darien Knowles, who struck out seven in three innings of work against Midview’s talented Middies.

Kenston: Coach Bob Ford’s 12-1 club took a nine-game winning streak into this week’s play. Kenston, which will make the short trip to Classic Park on Wednesday, features a one-through-six batting order that has been clutch
all spring. Coach Ford also has a number of strong arms, including senior right-hander Sherman Kruger, a Walsh University recruit.

Among some of Kenston’s run producers are outfielder/pitcher Dalton Yost, who is hitting nearly .400, Adam Bush, Sean O’Connor, Austin Shoda, Anthony Hajdu and Pete Rozman. Yost, who is a transfer from Rock Canyon High School in Littleton, Colorado, had three RBIs in Kenston’s 6-5 victory over Chardon in Progressive Field on Friday. The above mentioned names and several others had Kenston ranked second to Mentor in The News Herald’s weekly Top of the Crop on Friday. Some veteran Kenston fans are whispering that this team’s approach reminds them of the program’s regional-final clubs of ’02 and ’04.

Walsh Jesuit: The Warriors’ history speaks for itself – Division II state champs in 2008, ’06, ’04 and ’99, Division II state runners-up in 2009 and ’10 and seven national rankings since 2004. And yes, veteran Coach Chris Kaczmar has another solid team this spring, one that is sprinkled with tough outs and live arms.

Walsh Jesuit, which stood 14-2 after the weekend’s play, is currently a Division I club and is ranked 15th in the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association’s big-school state poll. Among some of the mainstays for Coach Kaczmar are senior catcher/pitcher Cassidy Brown and University of Cincinnati pitching recruit Joe Mockbee. A southpaw, Mockbee entered this week with a 4-0 record. Last year, Mockbee limited opponents to a .231 average and struck out 22 in 23 innings.

As for Brown, Wildcats baseball fans should know the name well by now. A four-year varsity mainstay, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Brown has been ranked as the top college prospect in Ohio by MaxPreps and the eighth-best talent in the Buckeye State by Prep Baseball Report. Coming off a season in which he hit .432 with five home runs and 29 RBI, Brown has accepted a scholarship from Loyola Marymount of the West Coast Conference. Senior right-handed pitcher and Walsh University recruit  Mark Mittiga, Blake Jenkins, Riley Minorik, Ryan Feltner and Gino Sassano are among some of the other names to mark down. Feltner is not only a capable hitter, but also has plenty of potential as a 6-2 right-handed freshman pitcher. His 84-plus mph capability and smooth delivery are quite impressive for a ninth grader.

St. Xavier: Some of the Queen City’s baseball aficionados are saying this might be a bit of a down year for St. Xavier. This old-timer is not buying it.

St. Xavier starts swinging the bats on the way off the bus and you can be sure it will come into Classic Park wanting to prove a point.

St. X did suffer a 14-1 loss to defending Division I state champion Archbishop Moeller last week. Moeller is ranked second to Mason in the coaches’ state poll.

However, St. Xavier rebounded nicely with a 6-3 victory over Elder and an 8-3 triumph over McNicholas, and carried a 9-8 record through Monday.

St. John’s Jesuit: Greg Christian has taken over as the skipper of the Titans after serving as an assistant on the varsity level last spring. Greg came to St. John’s last year after guiding the fortunes of Cardinal Stritch for 27 seasons.

After finishing 21-7 last season and winning a Three Rivers Athletic Conference Championship, the Titans had some rebuilding to do. Well, after a 10-1 start this spring, reloading might be more like it.

Yes, the Titans’ faithful had to say goodbye to four-year mainstays Jesse Adams (9-1 on the mound and a .387 batting average) and Nate Pearson (2012 TRAC batting champion at .487), who have taken their skills to Boston College and the University of Toledo, respectively. St. John’s also graduated standout pitcher/outfielder Joe Robie (3-2, .384 batting average) and current senior Liam Allen, who batted .326  last year, is sidelined after undergoing surgery that resulted from a football injury.

The Titans are not looking for sympathy, however. Coach Christian is getting outstanding play from senior shortstop/relief pitcher Jimmy Scott and senior catcher Corey Tipton. Scott is a three-year starter who, along with his hitting and fielding, has pitched eight innings of relief, striking out 15 and yielding just one hit. Tipton's work behind the dish has earned him a scholarship to the University of Toledo.   

St. John's is also blessed with three solid junior starting pitchers in 6-4 right-hander Nolan Silbrhorn, southpaw Collin Korte and 6-3 right-hander Jacek Cserwinski. Silbrhorn entered this week with a 1-1 record, his loss coming in a 1-0 game in which he yielded just an infield single. Korte is 2-0 with an ERA of 1.71 and through Monday Cserwinski had 17 strikeouts in 15 innings of work.

This is a solid program, my friends. As the 10-1 start indicates, St. John’s is manufacturing enough runs and getting the starting pitching needed to still make opponents remember the day or night they played the Titans.

****SIBN: The Saint Ignatius Broadcasting Network, led by El Presidente John Fanta ’13 and veteran Greg Ziton ’13, and the rest of the “Crew for You,” will broadcast Saint Ignatius baseball all week. Here is the schedule.

Tuesday: Versus St. Edward at Baldwin Wallace University. Coverage beginning at 4:15 (no live video).

Wednesday: Versus Kenston at Classic Park. Coverage beginning at 4:15.

Saturday: The Ohio Jesuit Tournament from Classic Park.

Walsh Jesuit vs. Saint Ignatius at 10:00 a.m.

Walsh Jesuit vs. St. John’s Jesuit at 12:30 p.m.

St. John’s Jesuit vs. St. Xavier at 3:00 p.m.

St. Xavier vs. Saint Ignatius at 5:30 p.m.

Sunday: Saint Ignatius vs. St. John’s Jesuit at 12:30 p.m.

 

Jagger Bruck commits to Wheeling Jesuit
4/28/2013

By Eddie Dwyer

Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor told the corner on Sunday night that his senior catcher Jagger Bruck has officially committed to further his education and baseball career at Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, West Virginia.

In selecting the Cardinals' baseball program, Jagger becomes one of nearly 60 players under Coach Ganor's tutelage to have the opportunity to play at the next level. Jagger is coming off a solid performance during Friday night's 9-1 victory over Avon Lake in Progressive Field.

Congratulations from this old catcher to Jagger, his family, Coach Ganor and the entire Saint Ignatius baseball program. 

Saint Ignatius baseball wins its sixth consecutive game, 9-3 at Strongsville.
4/27/2013

The Wildcats follow up on Friday's 15-hit performance against Avon Lake in Progressive Field by pounding out 13 more hits on Saturday.

Junior left fielder Nick Fabian goes 4-for-5 in his home town and Coach Brad Ganor's team sets the tempo with a four-run third inning.

Junior southpaw Nick Margevicius improves to 4-0 on the season and the 'Cats get some strong work out of the bullpen from junior right-hander Shane Skuhrovec and sophomore right-hander MJ Nara.

****Up next for Saint Ignatius is Tuesday's highly anticipated match up with rival St. Edward at Baldwin Wallace University. The first pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. St. Edward will be the home team.

Here is Saturday's varsity baseball game story

Strongsville, Ohio - More than capable, versatile and timely.

Those are just some of the words Saint Ignatius' multi-talented junior outfielder Nick Fabian uses when describing the Wildcats' offense.

Less than 24 hours after pounding out 15 hits in an eight-run victory over Avon Lake in Progressive Field, Saint Ignatius traveled to Strongsville on picture-perfect Saturday spring afternoon and showed everyone in attendance just how capable, multi-dimensional and clutch its hitters are.

The Wildcats, who now stand 11-5 after winning their sixth consecutive game, came up with 13 hits against the Mustangs' pitching and turned away the home team, 9-3.

A total of twenty-eight hits and 18 runs in two games. Not that's a healthy weekend my friends.

Saint Ignatius head coach Brad Ganor said he will take 28 hits over two games anytime. However, the veteran skipper also emphasized that it is not the norm for his team, or any high school team, to have such back-to-back production. Coach Ganor prefers to focus on the upcoming week, rather than the current winning streak.

The demanding week ahead includes Tuesday's game against West Side rival St. Edward at Baldwin Wallace University, Wednesday's home game versus Kenston at Classic Park and the annual Ohio Jesuit Tournament at Classic Park over the weekend. The Jesuit Tournament will include games against perennial state baseball fixtures Walsh Jesuit, Toledo St. John's Jesuit and Cincinnati St. Xavier. As always, the corner will preview this coming week's games on Monday as part of the "Where the 'Cats play."

As for Saturday's annual trip to Strongsville, Saint Ignatius combined a one-out base hit by senior shortstop and captain Tyler Finkler and a two-out RBI hustle double by Fabian into a 1-0 lead. It was the first of four hits by Fabian.

It stayed that way until the top of the third, when the Wildcats grabbed the momentum with a four-run inning.

Senior second baseman, captain and Illinois recruit Dan Rowbottom led off the third with an infield hit, took second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a perfect sacrifice bunt by Finkler. Senior center fielder and captain Conor Hennessey delivered a run-scoring single up the middle, Fabian lined a single to left center and junior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo drove in the 'Cats' third run with a single to right field. Saint Ignatius then took advantage of an error and a wild pitch in pushing its lead to 5-0.

Strongsville, the 2006 Division I state champion, combined a walk, an error, a hit batsman and a sacrifice fly by center fielder Brad Weimken into a run in the bottom of the fourth. Saint Ignatius answered with a run in the top of the fifth that was produced by walk to Hennessey, a single through the right side by Fabian and a sacrifice fly the opposite way by Longo.

The Mustangs, who are now 8-8, got back in the game in the bottom of the fifth.

A leadoff double by left fielder Ryan Frank, a double to the gap in right center by first baseman Tom Krokey and a two-run single up the middle by shortstop Ben Szymezak cut Saint Ignatius' lead to 6-3. Strongsville could have done further damage in the fifth, but with Mustangs on second and third and just one out, Wildcats senior third baseman Cole Nieto snagged a line shot to the hot corner and quickly fired the ball to Finkler, who made a text-book tag in doubling the runner off second.

As they have done throughout their winning streak, Coach Ganor's 'Cats, riding the excitement generated by the Nieto-Finkler double play, responded with two more runs in the top of the sixth and scored the game's final run in their half of the seventh.

A line-drive base hit the opposite way by the left-handed hitting Rowbottom, a base hit by Finkler, another walk to Hennessey, a bases-loaded RBI single by Fabian and an error made it an 8-3 game. Saint Ignatius' ninth run was produced by a two-out walk to Rowbottom, an errant pick-off attempt and an all-out hustle infield hit by Finkler that allowed junior infielder Bennett Kinzel, who was pinch running for Rowbottom, to score from second.

"We're getting it done when it needs to get done," Fabian said of the Wildcats' offense. "Slap hits and getting the RBIs when we need them, that's good baseball."

Fabian, a member of a solid contingent of Wildcats who grew up and still reside in Strongsville, said he knows about "80 percent" of the Mustangs.

"It's always a fun game," Fabian emphasized. "Growing up playing with teams that are from around here, it is always nice to come back and get a win off a lot of your buddies. Having a good day as well is always a nice thing too."

Saint Ignatius' pitching, which has also played a major role in the success of the past two weeks, was efficient again on Saturday.

Junior left-hander Nick Margevicius (4-0) worked five-plus innings, throwing 40 strikes in 60 pitches, junior right-hander Shane Skuhrovec worked two innings, with nine of his 11 pitches resulting in strikes, and sophomore right-hander MJ Nara turned in another 1-2-3 seventh with seven strikes in 12 pitches. Skuhrovec had a four-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth inning.

"All in all, I am happy with what they are doing and how they're playing baseball," said Coach Ganor of his Wildcats. "For the last two weeks, we've played good baseball. We hit well, we pitched well and we played good defense. All in all, that's usually a recipe for success."

Wildcats spray 15 hits around Progressive Field and go on to defeat Avon Lake, 9-1.
4/26/2013

Cole Nieto, Nick Fabian and Jordan Bufford help fuel the offense, as the 'Cats take control with a five-run first inning. Seniors Tom Rolle, Kyle Pluta and Matt Lynch, and sophomore MJ Nara, combine on a three-hitter in what was part of the annual Cleveland Indians Charities High School Hardball Classic.

Saint Ignatius improves to 10-5 and will take a five-game winning streak into Saturday afternoon's game at Strongsville. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:30. Junior southpaw Nick Margevicius (3-0) will be on the mound for the Wildcats.

HERE IS FRIDAY'S GAME STORY FROM THE CORNER OF CARNEGIE AND ONTARIO.

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2013

Saint Ignatius’ senior third baseman Cole Nieto said having the opportunity to play on Progressive Field was a “great experience.”

And he had fun doing it, too.

“When I came out here tonight, I was just looking forward to having some fun,” said Nieto, who was a big part of a Saint Ignatius offense that produced 15 hits en route to a 9-1 victory over Avon Lake in Friday night’s Cleveland Indians Charities High School Hardball Classic.

“Coach (Brad) Ganor said have fun and enjoy the experience," Nieto continued. "The pitcher I faced tonight (Brett Kiser), I played with him in summer ball. So I was looking to get a few hits off of him.”

Nieto and the rest of the Wildcats got more than their share of base hits, as they wasted little time in unleashing what has become a balanced and productive lineup for Coach Ganor. 

Batting around in the bottom of the first inning, Saint Ignatius took a 5-0 lead on six hits. The hit parade started with two outs and the bases empty.

Senior center fielder and captain Conor Hennessey drew a walk, stole second base and scored on a line drive base hit to center field by gifted junior left fielder Nick Fabian. Fabian alertly advanced to second when the outfielder had trouble handling his scorcher.

Junior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo followed with an infield hit that scored Fabian and Longo advanced to second on the throw to the plate.

An RBI single by senior designated hitter Kevin Hagen, a line-drive RBI triple down the left-field line by Nieto and a run-scoring rope to right field by senior first baseman Jordan Bufford pushed the Wildcats’ lead to 5-0.

Bufford turned in the most impressive at-bat of the night by battling back from an 0-2 count and fouling off a 3-2 pitch before taking the ball the opposite way.

Saint Ignatius had runners on first and second after senior catcher Jagger Bruck singled to right field and it appeared as though the ‘Cats were going to tack on a few more runs in the first inning.

However, a tip of the old cap went out to Avon Lake junior center fielder David Winkel, who ran down a drive off the bat of Wildcats senior second baseman and Illinois recruit Dan Rowbottom, and made a diving catch not too far from the 400-foot mark.

After Fabian's one-handed sliding catch in left field highlighted the top of the third, Saint Ignatius rode a two-base throwing error, a fielder's choice and an RBI single to left by Nieto to a 6-0 lead entering the top of the fourth.

“I started wrapping my hands, I just kept them down and didn’t move them much,” said Nieto of some of the work he did with his hitting in the off season. “Then I started hitting line drives and hitting more consistently.”

As for his pitching rotation on Friday night, Coach Ganor had his three seniors – lefty Tom Rolle and right-handers Kyle Pluta and Matt Lynch – each throw two innings.

Sophomore right-hander MJ Nara, who has performed like a veteran since being called up from the junior varsity, pitched the seventh.

Rolle yielded just one hit – a two-out double to the base of the wall in right field by junior Brad Hamilton in the top of the first.

An impressive and baseball-savvy player, Brad is a son of the Indians’ outstanding and legendary radio voice Tom Hamilton. Brad entered Friday night’s action having hit five home runs in his previous six games. He also made a nice play on a ball for the first out in the bottom of the fourth, a grab from his catcher’s position in foul territory along the first-base line.

Coach Ganor’s staff would combine for 11 strikeouts – five by Rolle, including striking out the side in the second inning, three by Pluta, one by Lynch and two by Nara in his 1-2-3 seventh.

Pluta’s three Ks came in succession after the Shoremen (8-6) loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the fourth.

Saint Ignatius (10-5) left no doubt by scoring three times in its half of the sixth.

The key blows came with one out and the bases empty – a base hit to left field by junior infielder David Bodziony, an authoritative line-drive RBI triple to the gap in deep left center by junior infielder Quillen Austria, an RBI single up the middle by junior first baseman/pitcher Nick Margevicius, base hits by junior outfielder/pitcher Shane Skuhrovec and junior outfielder Kyle Daugenti, and a run-scoring single to right field by junior infielder Bennett Kinzel.

“I’ll take 15 hits,” said a smiling Coach Ganor. “We’re swinging the bats well, the last week or so. They just did a fantastic job and the most important thing is that they all had fun, everybody got in the game and everybody contributed. It’s just a great atmosphere for these kids to enjoy.

“It was nice to see us have some fun at the plate,” Coach Ganor continued. “We weren’t bunting guys over. Usually when we get a guy on second, we’re bunting. Tonight I wanted them to swing the bats and have some
fun. That’s what it’s all about.”

Ohio Jesuit Tournament Arrives Next Weekend for Saint Ignatius and Jesuit Brothers
4/26/2013

Posted by John Fanta '13

Four Jesuit high schools will square off as a great annual event will bring them together. The first weekend of May will bring a whole lot of baseball and many challenges. Saint Ignatius, Walsh Jesuit, St. John Jesuit, and St Xavier will join for the Ohio Jesuit Tournament. All games on Saturday will be held at Classic Park, but on Sunday, one game will be played at Classic and one will be at Walsh Jesuit.

Here is the schedule for the weekend of May 4/5.

Walsh Jesuit v Saint Ignatius at 10:00 am
Walsh Jesuit v St. John Jesuit at 12:30 pm
St. John Jesuit v St. Xavier at 3:00 pm
St. Xavier v Saint Ignatius at 5:30 pm
All games at Classic Park.
Sunday:
St. John Jesuit v Saint Ignatius at 12:00 pm (at Classic Park)
St. Xavier v Walsh Jesuit at 12:00 pm  (at Walsh Jesuit)
Saint Ignatius-St. Edward baseball rained out and re-scheduled for Tuesday; Next Game Friday at Progressive Field
4/24/2013

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

Today's (Wednesday) varsity baseball game between Saint Ignatius and St. Edward at Classic Park has been rained out.

Wildcats head coach Brad Ganor said the game is now scheduled for Tuesday of next week. It will be played at Baldwin Wallace University at 4:30 p.m. St. Edward will be the home team.

*Just a reminder that Saint Ignatius will be competing in the annual Cleveland Indians Charities High School Hardball Classic on Friday night at 8 in Progressive Field. The Wildcats will take on the Shoremen from Avon Lake in what is a rematch of a 2010 Hardball Classic game won by Saint Ignatius, 1-0.

Seniors John Fanta and Greg Ziton, along with their SIBN crew, will broadcast Friday's game live from Progressive Field.

For an update on Saturday's schedule at Strongsville, see the post below

Saturday's single game at Strongsville is slated for 1:30 p.m.
4/24/2013

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

Saint Ignatius' varsity baseball team is now scheduled to play the Strongsville Mustangs in a single game on Saturday. The first pitch from Strongsville will be 1:30 p.m.

As we reported on the corner Tuesday night, the Wildcats were also scheduled to play Avon on Saturday as part of a doubleheader at Strongsville. However, Avon had to cancel the game with Saint Ignatius because of a thin pitching staff this week.  

Shane Skuhrovec and Nick Fabian lead Wildcats baseball past Willoughby South.
4/23/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2013

Shane accounts for all of the 'Cats' runs with a majestic solo home run and a clutch two-out, two-run single and Nick fires a three-hitter and also delivers two authoritative doubles in a 3-1 triumph over the Rebels at Classic Park.

Saint Ignatius wins its fourth consecutive game and improves to 9-5 overall heading into Wednesday's match up with St. Edward at Classic Park. Weather permitting, the first pitch will be at 4:30 p.m. 

*NOTE: Avon has canceled this week's game against Saint Ignatius, which was scheduled as part of a doubleheader at Strongsville on Saturday. Apparently the Eagles have a problem with their pitching depth this week. The Wildcats will now play either a single game versus Strongsville or a doubleheader against the Mustangs, at a time to be announced. We will keep you posted either way.   

Here is the baseball game story from Classic Park.

Lake County - Saint Ignatius' versatile junior pitcher, outfielder, pinch hitter and designated hitter Shane Skuhrovec smiled and gave an affirmative yes.

And then Shane smiled again and replied "No" to the next two questions.

The yes confirmed that his towering home run to left field in the bottom of the third inning against Willoughby South on Tuesday, which gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead, was indeed his first of the season.

As for the following two questions, the unassuming Skuhrovec revealed that the shot he hit in a sun-drenched Classic Park was also his first in a Saint Ignatius uniform - freshman, junior varsity or varsity.

While Shane's first career blast as a Wildcat got Saint Ignatius' offense started, it was his hit in the bottom of the fourth that was truly the difference maker.

After leading off the third with a home run he will probably remember forever, Skuhrovec stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fourth with two outs and the bases loaded.

The right-handed hitting Skuhrovec took the second curve ball he saw the opposite way to right field for a solid two-run single and a 3-0 lead for the Wildcats, who now stand 9-5 after turning back the very capable Rebels, 3-1.

"That was a fastball right down the plate," Skuhrovec said of his touch 'em all third-inning blast. "It felt kind of good."

Shane, who fills several roles for his team, but does not have a large number of plate appearances, said his home run and the clutch hit in the fourth were examples of taking advantage of the opportunities presented.

Then he immediately spoke of the team as a whole.

"Nick did great and then MJ came in and closed the door again," said Skuhrovec of the strong six innings turned in by junior right-hander Nick Fabian and the 1-2-3 seventh sophomore right-hander MJ Nara provided. "We've been pitching pretty well of late."

Fabian, whose pitching assignment on Tuesday enabled Skuhrovec to get a start in left field, limited the Rebels to one run on three hits, struck out six, walked two and threw 51 strikes in 87 pitches. Nara recorded his second consecutive save by enticing a 6-3 ground out, a fly out to center field and a strikeout.

A multi-skilled player, Fabian also delivered two line-drive doubles, with the second one helping set the table for Skuhrovec's decisive two-run single.

A scout from West Virginia was on hand in Classic Park to check out Fabian's baseball skills.

Willoughby South's talented leadoff hitter and center fielder TJ Lett was a major factor in the Rebels' ability to stay in the game.

In the bottom of the fifth, Lett caught a ball off the bat of Wildcats gifted senior second baseman and Illinois recruit Dan Rowbottom in front of the 400-foot sign in center field and he also ran down another rope by Fabian in left center. Back-to-back hits by Lett and first baseman Mike Fenner led to the Rebels' sixth-inning run.

"That's just good baseball," said Coach Brad Ganor of his team's ninth victory, which along with the clutch hits and solid pitching featured sound defensive play by the 'Cats. The infield of Rowbottom, senior third baseman Cole Nieto, junior first baseman Joe Khoury and senior shortstop Tyler Finkler made all of the plays - the routine and the difficult.

"Nick had a couple of nice get-out-of-the-inning strikeouts early in the game," Coach Ganor continued. "For Shane, the home run was great, but the two-out hit was huge. It's tough when you're not getting in the lineup consistently. He did a fantastic job of taking advantage of the opportunity. It's a great start to the week. That's the third game in a row now that we had great pitching. If we do that, we're going to be a tough team to beat."  

8-5 Saint Ignatius Baseball Faces a Challenging Week of Five Games
4/22/2013

Posted by Eddie Dwyer 

BASEBALL

Tuesday - Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats, coming off an impressive week that saw them win four out of five games, are scheduled to play their home opener against the always sound Willoughby South Rebels at Classic Park in Eastlake. The first pitch is slated for 4:30 p.m.

****Friday - Coach Ganor's club will face Avon Lake as part of the annual Cleveland Indians Charities High School Hardball Classic at Progressive Field. The first pitch is scheduled for 8 p.m. On April 23, 2010 the Wildcats and the Shoremen also met in the Hardball Classic at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario, and the 'Cats rode a pitching committee to a 1-0 victory.

Saturday - It's a quick turnaround for the 'Cats as they travel to the friendly confines of Strongsville High School on Saturday morning to face the baseball savvy Mustangs at 10 and the Avon Eagles at 12:30. Avon posted a combined record of 47-6 over 2011 and 2012. Those 47 wins produced consecutive conference titles (West Shore) for the first time in the program's history.  

****Note: The golden tones of senior John Fanta and his staff will broadcast all five of this week's baseball games live over the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network and the corner will provide game coverages.

 

Mike Ruffing '12 Making his Mark at Washington and Jefferson
4/22/2013

Poted by Eddie Dwyer

Mike Ruffing excelling at Washington & Jefferson

Washington & Jefferson College Sports News reports that former Saint Ignatius baseball standout Mike Ruffing helped host W&J to an 8-4 victory over Saint Vincent in a Presidents’ Athletic Conference game on Sunday afternoon.

 

 

Pitching comes to the fore and the bats continue to ring true, as the baseball 'Cats win both ends of a doubleheader in Mansfield.
4/20/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2013

Nick Margevicius and Matt Lynch turn in solid pitching performances and the Wildcats' offense continues to put the pressure on, as Saint Ignatius wins for the fourth time in five games this week by defeating Mansfield Madison, 13-2, and Midview, 4-2, in Saturday's twin bill at Mansfield Madison High School.

Joe Khoury's two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth and Lynch's bulldog mentality on the mound key the two-run triumph over the talented Midview Middies and help send the Wildcats into this coming week's action with an 8-5 record.

Here is the story on the 'Cats' sweep.

Mansfield, Ohio - It was the perfect ending to a near perfect week.

Coach Brad Ganor’s Saint Ignatius Wildcats, putting their complete game on display in Richland County late Saturday morning and early afternoon, pitched, hit, ran and fielded their way through the cold wind and
occasional light sleet that swept across the baseball–rich facility at Mansfield Madison High School.

As the sun was making a guest appearance through the blue gray clouds on one of April’s traditional December-like days, the Wildcats, almost oblivious to the weather, gathered behind their assigned dugout and celebrated a doubleheader sweep – 13-2 over the Mansfield Madison Rams and 4-2 over a strong Midview team from Grafton, Ohio. The Madison game was called after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.

After addressing his players, who went 4-1 on the week and improved to 8-5 overall, Coach Ganor talked about how amazing it was to watch the Wildcats go from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Monday saw the ‘Cats come up with an impressive victory over St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, on Tuesday night Saint Ignatius lost to 2012 Division I state runner-up Westlake, 6-2, at Westlake and in what Coach Ganor described as a game that could end up defining the Wildcats’ season, Saint Ignatius saw a nine-run lead over Twinsburg after three innings slip away, only to respond with an eight-run sixth and go on to turn back the always tough Tigers, 18-14, at Baldwin Wallace University on Thursday evening.

The inner fire and emotion of that wild and incredible win over Twinsburg seemed to accompany the ‘Cats into Mansfield on Saturday morning.

“Pitchers pitching like we know they’re capable of pitching,” Coach Ganor said of the efforts he got from gifted junior southpaw Nick Margevicius and gritty senior right-hander Matt Lynch.

In improving to 3-0 on the season, Margevicius scattered four hits, struck out four, issued just one walk and threw 42 strikes in the 65 pitches he fired at the Madison Rams over five innings. The quiet, but hard-nosed Lynch picked up his first victory of the season by going six strong innings against Midview’s more-than-capable lineup. Matt threw 105 pitches, 65 for strikes, limited the Middies to three hits, struck out five and walked four.

Promising sophomore right-hander MJ Nara, who hasn’t stopped smiling since he was called up from the junior varsity earlier this month, came on in the top of the seventh against Midview and set the Middies down in order to pick up the save.

“Nick has great stuff, Lynch has great stuff and Nara has great stuff,” Coach Ganor said. “They just have to trust it and believe in themselves. I think they showed that trust today.”

As for Saint Ignatius’ offense, it has been as advertised through most of the early half of the season - balanced, versatile, unselfish and capable of rocking the house when the pitch is there.

Saturday was no different, as the Wildcats, who had 20 hits against Twinsburg, rapped out 11 in their five innings of work against Madison (5-8).

Saint Ignatius combined a one-out double by senior shortstop and captain Tyler Finkler, an infield hit by hustling senior center fielder and captain Conor Hennessey, an RBI double by junior left fielder Nick Fabian and a sacrifice fly by junior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo into a 2-0 lead over the Rams in the top of the first inning.

Madison, which lost to the Wildcats at the regional level the year the ‘Cats brought home the Division I state championship (2002), closed to 2-1 on a solo home run in the bottom of the first by a name worth
remembering – Rams freshman first baseman Zane Harris.

Harris’ touch-‘em-all effort and a game-tying single in the bottom of the third by junior designated hitter Kyle Blust were among the few bright spots for Madison, as Saint Ignatius settled the issue with a five-run fourth and a six-run fifth.

The take-command fourth inning started with a walk to senior third baseman Cole Nieto, who has been swinging an authoritative bat and handling the hot corner with calm and confidence. After sophomore catcher Alex Panstares beat out a bunt and junior first baseman Joe Khoury drew a walk, senior second baseman and captain Dan Rowbottom, an Illinois recruit, ripped a 2-2 pitch into right-center field for an RBI single.

Supplying the other key hit in the fourth was Hennessey, who scorched a two-run double to left center.

An error, a couple of walks and a balk started the Wildcats’ fireworks in the top of the fifth and an RBI single by Longo and a two-run base hit by Nieto accounted for the game’s final three runs. Nieto was coming off a
4-for-4 effort against Twinsburg.

SAINT IGNATIUS 4, MIDVIEW 2

Matt Lynch said he took the mound on Saturday afternoon determined to make his pitches, pitch to contact and rely on his defense.

Matt did just that as his grit and a reliable two-seam fastball showed the way.

Saint Ignatius took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Fabian that scored Hennessey, who had walked and stole second. Hennessey beat the throw home with a perfect slide.

The Middies (7-4), who rebounded with a victory over Madison in Saturday’s final game, tied the score against Saint Ignatius with an unearned run in the top of the fourth.

Midview had a runner on second with two outs in the top of the fifth, but Lynch ended the threat with a strikeout.

In the bottom half of the fifth, Coach Ganor’s ‘Cats rode the momentum of Lynch’s K to three runs and a 4-1 lead. Nieto led off with a first-pitch swinging single up the middle, junior infielder Quillen Austria laid
down a text-book sacrifice bunt and Khoury drove a Mr. Rawlings fastball over the fence in right center for a two-run home run.

Base hits by Rowbottom and Finkler and an intentional walk to Hennessey loaded the bases, and Fabian put down an as-it's-intended squeeze bunt that brought home Saint Ignatius’ fourth and final run.

Lynch called on his inner strength in the top of the sixth after Midview’s Eric Lauer led off with a home run to left center. A walk and a wild pitch put the next batter at second base, but Lynch kept his composure and got the next two hitters on a strikeout and a 4-3 ground out.

With a runner now on third and two outs, Lynch ended his impressive six innings with another strikeout and Nara closed the door in the seventh.

Up next for the Wildcats is Tuesday afternoon’s long-awaited home opener at Classic Park in Eastlake against the Willoughby South Rebels. The first pitch is scheduled for 4:30.

 

A test of wills! 'Cats see a nine-run lead after three innings slip away, but respond with eight runs in the sixth and turn back Twinsburg, 18-14.
4/18/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2013

Trailing, 10-1, Twinsburg scores six times in the top of the fourth and takes a one-run lead with a four-run sixth, only to watch Saint Ignatius send 13 batters to the plate in the bottom of the sixth and score eight runs.

The Wildcats and the Tigers combine for 30 hits, including 20 by Saint Ignatius. Up next: A trip to Mansfield Madison on Saturday for games with the Mansfield Madison Rams (10 a.m.) and the Midview Middies (12:30 p.m.) 

BEREA, OHIO - "Wild, unbelievable!"

Those were the first words Saint Ignatius' veteran skipper Brad Ganor said to this reporter following Thursday evening's game against the Twinsburg at the baseball-rich field on the campus of Baldwin Wallace University.

In what was truly a game that displayed the heart and sure will of both teams, the Wildcats defeated Coach Don Jones' always tough Tigers, 18-14.

Saint Ignatius, which improved to 6-5, was in the driver's seat with a nine-run advantage through three innings before Twinsburg came storming back and took an 11-10 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.

"That, is the best part of the whole thing," said Coach Ganor of what was one the most entertaining and gritty victories in the Wildcats' rich baseball history. "We had them down and they kicked us right in the teeth to come back and take the lead. And then, we showed the heart."

Saint Ignatius, laying it all on the line after Twinsburg enticed Mr. Momentum into its dugout by scoring six runs in the top of the fourth and four in the top of the sixth, had a list of heroes in the bottom of the sixth that was almost as long as the Wildcats' roster.

Thirteen batters ended up stepping to the plate for Coach Ganor in the decisive sixth and when the dust settled, the 'Cats were purring to the tune of an 18-11 lead.

With one out and nobody on base, senior designated hitter Kevin Hagen got the eight-run sixth started with a double to center field.

Senior third baseman Cole Nieto, who went 4-for-4 on the day and played a solid game at the hot corner, then drove a ball to left field for a base hit that was stung so hard the left fielder couldn't come up with it cleanly and senior pitcher Matt Lynch, who was pinch-running for Hagen, came around to score the tying run.

Promising sophomore catcher Alex Panstares, who doesn't play like a recent junior varsity call up, lined a first-pitch scorcher to left field that put Saint Ignatius back in front,12-11, and then some 'Viking Pride" came to the fore.

Junior first baseman Joe Khoury, senior center fielder and captain Conor Hennessey and junior left fielder Nick Fabian, who are products of Sts. Joseph and John Elementary School in Strongsville (thus the "Viking Pride" reference), followed with huge run-scoring hits, including a hustle RBI double by Hennessey. Hustle and Hennessey are synonymous.

The eight-run barrage also featured an RBI triple by junior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo, who is swinging the bat with authority, and another clutch hit by Nieto that produced the 'Cats' 18th run.

"I was on the on-deck circle and 'Fink' (Saint Ignatius senior shortstop and captain Tyler Finkler) pulled me over and said, 'Hey, he's going to come in first pitch (fastball). Go get it and we'll take it from there,'" said Panstares of his sixth-inning RBI that put the Wildcats ahead to stay.

Panstares, who is a nephew of former Saint Ignatius football standout Jack Mulloy '92, he of the famed "All-Purpose Ponies" from the fall of 1991, emphasized how honored he is to be called on by Coach Ganor in a leadership role as just a sophomore. Panstares also pointed to the seniors and how much they have guided him. "They are a great bunch of guys," he said.

Twinsburg, which is now 5-4 on the season, didn't go quietly.

Coach Jones' Tigers were finally turned away after scoring three times in the top of the seventh. RBI hits by seniors Nick Jaworski and Cooper Rea provided the final roar by the Tigers.

There were plenty of fireworks in the early going for the 'Cats, including a solo home run blast over the left-field fence by Finkler in a seven-run bottom of the first. The other big blows in the seven spot were an RBI double by Longo, a run-scoring single by Hennessey and a three-run double to deep center field by senior captain, second baseman and Illinois recruit Dan Rowbottom. Saint Ignatius batted around in its half of the first.

Coach Ganor's 'Cats moved to a 10-1 lead in the bottom of the second on a single up the middle by Hennessey, a stolen base by Hennessey, an RBI single by Fabian, a line-drive run scoring single to left center by Hagen, a double to deep left field by Nieto and a sacrifice fly by junior catcher Pat Gulick.

Along with Nieto's four-hit performance, Saint Ignatius got three-hit efforts from Fabian, Longo and Hagen.

A two-run double by gifted senior outfielder/pitcher/infielder Jalen Washington helped igniteTwinsburg's six-run fourth and Washington's three-run double to the base of the fence in left field keyed the Tigers' four-run sixth.

"That's what we were talking about the other day and that's what we've been talking about all season, perseverance and the ability to come back," Coach Ganor said. "I am so proud of them for fighting and coming back. It wasn't because we had 20 hits, but because they fought. We had a great game plan going into it, we got away from it in the middle innings and they went back to it, executed and got it done.

"I'm very proud of the resiliency they showed today, because they could have easily folded," Coach Ganor continued.    

5-5 Saint Ignatius Baseball Hosts Twinsburg Thursday; Plays Doubleheader on Saturday
4/17/2013

Posted by Eddie Dwyer

Baseball: Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats are scheduled to take on the always baseball-sound Twinsburg Tigers on Thursday at 4:30 at Baldwin Wallace University. The corner will have game coverage and John Fanta '13 and Wildcats hockey standout, the versatile Miles McQuinn '13, will have the call over the Saint Ignatius Broadcasting Network.

On Saturday, the baseball 'Cats will travel to Mansfield Madison for a twin bill. At 10 a.m., the Wildcats will face the Madison Rams and at 12:30 p.m., it will be a match up with Midview's Middies. The corner will provide coverage on both games.

 

'Cats score twice in the top of the first, but Westlake answers with two runs in the bottom of the inning and goes on to a 6-2 victory under the lights.
4/17/2013

A towering home run to left field by Justin Runevitch in the bottom of the first inning gets the Demons' offense started and they ride a three-run fourth inning to their fifth victory in eight games. The Wildcats can't cash in on their opportunities after the first inning and slip to 5-5 heading into Thursday's game against Twinsburg at Baldwin Wallace University. The first pitch on Thursday is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2013

Westlake, Ohio - The weather was what baseball players in Northeast Ohio come to expect in April, especially for a night game.

Sure, it was cloudy and a light misty rain fell in the early going.

However, the only storm that was created at Westlake High School on a 50-degree Tuesday night came in the bottom of the first inning, when Demons' junior second baseman Justin Runevitch sent Mr. Rawlings on a no-doubter trip over the fence in left field.

Runevitch's authoritative blast seemed to awaken the Demons' spirits as they would answer Saint Ignatius' two-run top of the first, take a one-run lead in the bottom of the second and complete their 6-2 victory by scoring three times in the bottom of the fourth.

"We had chances, but you know, sometimes you just lose a game," said Saint Ignatius head coach Brad Ganor.

The Wildcats, who now stand at .500 through 10 games this spring, appeared as though they were headed for their sixth victory in their last eight games when, with two outs and nobody on base in the top of the first inning, they scored twice. The big blow was a two-run triple off the fence in right field by junior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo. Longo's rope scored senior center fielder and captain Conor Hennessey, who had singled, and junior pitcher/left fielder Nick Fabian, who drew a walk.

Westlake (5-3), which also defeated Saint Ignatius in last year's regional semifinals and finished as the Division I state runner-up under now retired Hall of Fame Coach Jeff Short, rode Runevitch's one-out solo blast, two walks, an error and a two-out hit batsman with the bases loaded to the tying runs in the bottom frame of the first.

Runevitch made his presence felt again in the bottom of the second, when his one-out, line-drive double to left gave the Demons a lead they would not surrender. Another hit batsman and two wild pitches set up Runevitch's two-bagger.

One of the bright spots for Saint Ignatius was the work out of the bullpen by recent junior varsity call up MJ Nara. The sophomore right-hander prevented further damage in the bottom of the second by coming up with two huge strikeouts and recorded another big-time K in the bottom of the third with two outs and runners and second and third.

With the Wildcats managing just one hit after the first inning - a bunt single by Hennessey in the top of the third - Westlake built a cushion with its three-run fourth.

A walk to Runevitch, a first-pitch swinging line-drive single to left by Demons' senior pitcher Danny Strodtbeck (1-0) and an error made the score 4-2. Senior shortstop Andrew Kettel delivered a one-out RBI single to left and a bases-loaded walk resulted in Westlake's sixth run.

Saint Ignatius will most likely face pitchers with larger resumes as the seasons goes on, but none with a bigger heart than the one Strodtbeck possesses.

With nothing left in his right arm but desire, the gritty Strodtbeck pitched out of bases-loaded situations in the sixth and seventh innings.

The Wildcats' line score read, 2-3-4, and Westlake's line was 6-5-3.

*Just a reminder that SIBN El Presidente John Fanta '13 and Wildcats hockey standout, the versatile Miles McQuinn '13, will bring you Thursday's game against Twinsburg live over the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network.                 

Wildcats score early and southpaw Nick Margevicius throws a solid workman-like complete game in a 5-1 triumph over St. Vincent-St. Mary.
4/15/2013

By Eddie Dwyer

Akron, Ohio - Coach Brad Ganor's varsity baseball Wildcats score all five of their runs in the first two innings and junior left-hander Nick Margevicius throws a five-hit complete game as the Wildcats, winners of five of their last seven games, improve to 5-4.

Up next for the 'Cats is a trip to Westlake on Tuesday night for a match up under the lights with the Demons. The first pitch is scheduled for 7. En route to its Division I state runner-up finish in 2012, Westlake defeated Saint Ignatius in the regional semifinals. Senior John Fanta will have the call over the SIBN Tuesday night, as John returns to the site of his first broadcast for Saint Ignatius.  

*The Wildcats freshmen defeat SVSM, 10-0, and improve to 3-1. Right-hander Brian Russell throws a two-hitter and Jack Cook (a triple and three runs batted in) and Dennis Grosel (a triple and two RBI) help fuel the offense.

Here is the varsity game story.

Shortly after his Wildcats defeated the Fighting Irish from St. Vincent-St. Mary, 5-1, in Patterson Park early Monday evening, Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor tipped his cap to both Wildcats gifted
junior pitcher Nick Margevicius and SVSM’s gritty senior ace Andy Farrell.

In what was a match up featuring a couple of resilient and determined southpaws, Margevicius got off to the better start and answered every challenge along the way. In going the distance, Nick now stands 2-0 on
the season after he scattered five hits, struck out six and walked two. St. Vincent-St. Mary’s run was unearned.

As for Farrell, whose record slipped to 1-2, his mental toughness was evident from the third inning on.

However, Saint Ignatius’ offense, with senior Captains Dan Rowbottom and Conor Hennessey helping lead the way, got to Farrell for two runs in the top of the first inning and three more in the second. That proved to be
more than enough for the Wildcats and Margevicius.

“Yeah, he settled in,” said Coach Ganor of Farrell. “But it was good to score early and often. It’s refreshing to see great pitching. Nick didn’t overpower them by any means, but he pitched to contact and let his defense make the plays. If we go and play every game this week as scheduled, we need that complete game. We’re going to need the arms and I’m very proud of the job Nick did.”

Saint Ignatius’ offense wasted little time in doing its job.

Rowbottom, a second baseman whose play has earned him a scholarship to Illinois, led off the game with a double down the first-base line. Savvy senior shortstop and Captain Tyler Finkler followed with a perfect
sacrifice bunt and Hennessey, a mainstay in center field, drew a walk that put runners on first and third.

As Hennessey broke for second, Rowbottom made a move like he was breaking for home and the Fighting Irish threw the ball into short left field, allowing Rowbottom to score. Hennessey then stole third and came home on a groundout off the bat of junior left fielder Nick Fabian.

After Margevicius retired the Fighting Irish in order in the bottom of the first, the Wildcats put the pressure on SVSM with their three-run second inning.

With one out and nobody on base, promising sophomore catcher Alex Panstares hit a sharp single up the middle. A wild pitch off a third strike and an RBI single up the middle by Rowbottom pushed the ‘Cats’ lead to 3-0. Rowbottom would go on to steal second and third, Finkler drew a walk and stole second and Hennessey delivered a two-out, two-run single. Like Panstares and Rowbottom, Hennessey took the pitch up the middle.

Rowbottom had three hits in four at-bats and Hennessey was 2-for-2. Saint Ignatius finished with nine hits.

All of the scoring occurred in the first two innings, as the Fighting Irish (4-3) tallied on an error, a single to right field by sophomore third baseman Anthony Cerreto, a sacrifice bunt by sophomore first baseman Ryan Donahue and a fielder’s choice.

Margevicius and the ‘Cats' defense took care of the rest while Farrell was recovering nicely for SVSM.

The defensive play of the game was turned in by Fabian, who robbed Fighting Irish sophomore shortstop Ian Dillard of extra bases by running down the ball and making a leaping one-handed grab in left-center field in the bottom of the third.

Saint Ignatius was threatening again in the top of the fifth, but Farrell started a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded.

“I was really able to locate my fastball well,” said Margevicius, who threw 92 pitches. “That was the key, to build off of that. I stuck to that for the first few innings. And then I was able to throw the curveball for a
strike, which kept them off balance, especially the second and third time through the lineup. I didn’t throw the change-up much, but then I really didn’t need to. We’re (the pitching staff) starting to find it.”     

 

Happy Birthday Tom Rolle! Saint Ignatius' savvy southpaw and another monster inning lead the Wildcats to an 18-3 victory over Canfield on Saturday afternoon.
4/13/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2013.

Tom Rolle's mound mastery and a 10-run third inning show the way as Coach Brad Ganor's 'Cats overwhelm the Cardinals. The game was called after five innings because of the state's 10-run mercy rule.

Mahoning County - After he helped lead Saint Ignatius to an 18-3, run-rule triumph over Canfield on his birthday, Wildcats senior southpaw Tom Rolle said he would have to wait until he got home to see what his parents had planned for his special day.

Well, if those plans were complementary to the performance Tom and his teammates put on display in baseball-rich Bob Cene Park on Saturday afternoon, Rolle's 18th Birthday will be one he won't soon forget.

The Wildcats, with Rolle dominating after the first inning and the 'Cats' offense putting together its second big-time inning within nine days, sent everyone in attendance home early to the tune of the 10-run advantage after five innings mercy rule.

Only this time it was a leave-no-doubt 15-run advantage after five.

Rolle, who improved to 2-0 on the young season, yielded a run in the bottom of the first and was untouchable over the next three innings. The Cardinals, who slipped to 2-5, got two runs off Saint Ignatius' bullpen in the bottom of the fifth.

"Coach (Brad Ganor) told me before the game that he wanted me to pound the strike zone with fastballs and make them prove they could hit it," Rolle said after Saint Ignatius improved its record to 4-4. "Then we would go with the off speed. They started hitting it a little bit in the first inning and I went with my change up. I felt really good with the change. I got a lot of strikeouts with that pitch."

The Wildcats, who travel to Patterson Park on Monday for a 4:30 match up with the Fighting Irish from St. Vincent-St. Mary, rode a leadoff walk to standout senior second baseman Dan Rowbottom, a single up the middle by red-hot senior shortstop Tyler Finkler, a sacrifice bunt by leave-it-all-on-the-field senior center fielder Conor Hennessey, a wild pitch and an  RBI single by five-tool junior left fielder Nick Fabian to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

Canfield, which has made eight regional appearances since 1998 and 11 overall, won a state title in 2007 and was a state final four team in '98 and '04, cut the deficit to 2-1 in the bottom of the first. Coach Matt Koenig's Cardinals scored on a leadoff single by junior left fielder Colton Crissman, a stolen base by Crissman and a two-out wild pitch. Canfield would also get a two-out single by senior center fielder Derek Turocy, but Rolle put a stop to the Cardinals' offense by getting the final out of the first inning on a pop up to Rowbottom. Rowbottom is bound for Illinois on a baseball scholarship.

Rolle went on to throw three perfect innings, striking out the side in the second and fanning two of the three Cardinals that stepped to the plate in the third inning. His final numbers showed him yielding just the one run on two hits, striking out six and not issuing a walk. Of Tom's 52 total pitches, 38 of them were strikes.

As is his nature, Rolle was quick to point to the Wildcats' offense, which sent 14 batters to the plate in the top of the third inning en route to scoring 10 runs. On April 5 in Chillicothe, Saint Ignatius run-ruled highly regarded Grove City, 13-2, by sending 18 batters to the plate in a 13-run fourth inning.

"Our first six hitters are all speedsters, so if they get on you know they're going to score," Rolle said. "It's definitely given me confidence and the other pitchers confidence that if we throw strikes, they'll score the runs."

Saint Ignatius' second monster-out-of-the-cage inning this season was fueled by a leadoff double to deep left-center field by Rowbottom. Finkler then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that was thrown away by the Cardinals infield, allowing Rowbottom to score.

After Canfield's shaky fielding enabled the 'Cats to load the bases, junior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo laced a three-run double to right center that broke the game open at 6-1. Senior designated hitter Kevin Hagen followed with an RBI single and the 10-run barrage also featured run-scoring singles by senior third baseman Jordan Bufford and Hennessey, another base hit by Fabian and a wild pitch that extended Saint Ignatius' lead to 12-1 heading into the bottom of third.

"In the (eight) games we've played I have felt very good about the offense," said Coach Ganor, who has guided the Wildcats to a school-best three consecutive state final fours (2007, '08, '09). Saint Ignatius has advanced to the state final four 10 times, has been a state runner-up twice (2000 and 2008) and brought home the Division I state championship in 2002 under Coach Brian Morgan. Coach Ganor was on Coach Morgan's staff.

"We've scored a lot of runs, we just need the consistent pitching," Coach Ganor continued. "I think we have it, but they (the pitchers) just need to bring it every time we show up. Tom did a great job of settling in after that first inning. He's very consistent no matter what he does. And it was nice to see the guys swing the bats well, put the ball in play and force the defense to make plays, which they (Canfield) didn't on some of them. We're taking a step in the right direction."

Those steps continued in the frosting on the cake six-run fourth. Rolle's teammates presented him with a cake at Friday's team dinner.

In scoring six more times the fourth, the Wildcats were the recipients of a walk to junior first baseman Nick Margevicius, an infield hit by Bufford, and RBI single by senior infielder David Bodziony, a bases-loaded walk to sophomore catcher Alex Panstares, a bases-loaded take on for the team by junior outfielder/pitcher Shane Skuhrovec, a misplayed fly ball that resulted in two runs, and an RBI single by senior infielder Cole Nieto.

Canfield's two runs off the 'Cats' bullpen in the bottom of the fifth came off a one-out single by Crissman. Saint Ignatius outhit the Cardinals, 13-4, and committed two errors to Canfield's six.

Baseball game at Archbishop Hoban canceled
4/11/2013

 Posted by Eddie Dwyer

Mother Nature made it 2-for-2 on Thursday (see lacrosse post below), as Coach Brad Ganor told the corner that today's varsity baseball game at Archbishop Hoban has been canceled.

Up next for Coach Ganor's 'Cats is a trip to Bob Cene Park on Saturday morning for a match up with the Canfield Cardinals. The first pitch is scheduled for 11 and the bus will leave Saint Ignatius at 8 a.m.  

Saint Ignatius Baseball's Saturday Schedule at Canfield
4/10/2013

Posted by Eddie Dwyer

SATURDAY: Coach Brad Ganor's varsity baseball team will travel to Bob Cene Park for a match up with the Canfield Cardinals from Mahoning County. The first pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.

Saint Ignatius vs. Nordonia Baseball Cancelled
4/10/2013

Wildcats baseball home opener at Classic Park postponed because of rain. Weather permitting, the 'Cats are at Archbishop Hoban on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

Saint Ignatius starts strong, but Massillon Jackson has all of the answers en route to a 15-5 victory over the 'Cats.
4/9/2013
4/9/2013

The Polar Bears erase a 3-0 deficit by scoring six times in the bottom of the first and they settle the issue with a five-run fifth in a game that was called after five because of the 10-run mercy rule.

Saint Ignatius' junior varsity bounces back from Monday's loss at Massillon Jackson by run-ruling St. Edward, 12-2, on Tuesday.

Jackson also defeats the Wildcats' freshmen,10-8, on Tuesday for a rare sweep of Saint Ignatius' three baseball programs.

*Here is the varsity game story from Massillon Jackson.

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2013

Stark County – In advancing to the Division I regional semifinals last season, Saint Ignatius’ varsity baseball program faced some extremely talented teams.

However, Wildcats head coach Brad Ganor stood firm last spring when he said the best team his program faced in 2012 was, without question, Massillon Jackson. The Polar Bears defeated the ‘Cats in last year’s
season opener at Jackson.

Early Tuesday night, Coach Ganor stood on the Polar Bears’ field again and reiterated the same sentiments he expressed nearly a year ago.

“We knew coming in that they were going to be very good, despite their record,” said Coach Ganor. “He (Polar Bears head coach Bill Gamble) does a great job of getting them ready.”

To say Jackson was both good and ready to face the Wildcats on Tuesday would be a major understatement.

The Polar Bears, whose deceiving record now stands at 2-3, answered Saint Ignatius’ fast start with an even faster start of their own and went on to run-rule the ‘Cats, 15-5. The game was called after five innings because of the state’s 10-run mercy rule.

Saint Ignatius (3-4), which was coming off a successful weekend that saw it win three out of  four games, appeared to carry that momentum into the top of the first inning on Tuesday.

Senior shortstop Tyler Finkler got the Wildcats’ offense started with a one-out double off the fence in right-center field. With two outs, Finkler stole third, junior left fielder Nick Fabian drew a walk and junior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo drove a two-run double to the gap in right center. Senior designated hitter Kevin Hagen followed with an RBI single to right and Saint Ignatius took a 3-0 lead into
the bottom of the first.

As quickly as Mr. Momentum took the field with the Wildcats for the bottom of the first, Jackson turned him around and sent him to the home dugout.

The Polar Bears, who authoritatively answered just about every move Saint Ignatius made, scored six times in the bottom of the first and batted around in the process.

Junior outfielder Tim Turner led off for Jackson and promptly lined a double to the gap in left center, advanced to third on a pitch in the dirt and scored on a do-or-die slow roller to the shortstop.

With one out, senior first baseman Andrew Stalnaker, a .342 hitter in 2012, lined a single to right field and senior infielder Nate Ballinger followed with sacrifice fly to left center that made it a 3-2 game. Stalnaker moved to second on another pitch in the dirt and Jackson loaded the bases on a single to left by junior shortstop Kyle Mottice and a hit batsman.

The hit parade continued as junior third baseman Jake Sima laced a two-run single to left and the runners moved up on the throw to the plate. A passed ball resulted in the Polar Bears’ fifth run and an RBI single up the middle by senior outfielder Ian O’Neill completed the six-run barrage.

“It’s tough, we’ve been in this situation now three times in the last week (jumping out early and giving it right back),” said Coach Ganor. “Our offense can’t do it all. I’ve told them (the Wildcats’ pitchers) in our team meeting that they have great stuff. They’re just not trusting it. And until they trust it, we’re going to continue to be in situations like this.”

After Stalnaker pushed his team’s lead to 7-3 in the bottom of the second on a one-out single up the middle with the infield drawn in, Saint Ignatius got back in the game with single runs in the third and fourth
innings.

Senior catcher Jagger Bruck delivered a two-out RBI single in the third and a four-pitch walk to senior second baseman and Illinois recruit Dan Rowbottom, another double by Finkler and a one-out walk to Fabian loaded the bases in the fourth. The Wildcats’ fifth and final run came home when Longo was hit by a pitch.

Leading, 7-5, Jackson again grabbed the momentum back courtesy of a two-run double by Stalnaker 
off the fence in right center and an RBI single by Ballinger.

The Polar Bears then rode their three-run fourth to the decisive five-run fifth, an inning that started with a screaming double off the third baseman’s glove by O’Neill. Providing the telling blows were Ballinger with another run-scoring single and junior catcher Seth Vellucci and Sima, who produced the 14th and 15th runs on two-out RBI singles.

“They’re kids and when you suck the life out of them like that in the first inning, they’re kids and it’s tough to respond,” said Coach Ganor, who will lead his Wildcats against Nordonia in Wednesday’s 4:30 home opener
at Classic Park in Eastlake. “Everyone expects Saint Ignatius to almost be robotic, like we’re machines or something. They have homework to deal with, teachers to deal with, girlfriends to deal with, classes and all of that stuff. We have to stick together and the coaching staff needs to make sure that we’re staying positive. I still believe that this is a fantastic team.”

Varsity baseball at Massillon Jackson on Tuesday; Home Opener is Wednesday vs. Nordonia at Classic Park
4/8/2013

By Eddie Dwyer

Coach Brad Ganor's varsity baseball Wildcats (3-3), fresh off their strong performance this past weekend, travel to Massillon Jackson on Tuesday for a match up with the Polar Bears (1-3). Jackson High School has the game scheduled for 5 p.m.

The Wildcats will look to build off a weekend in which they swept both of their games in the "We Can Play First-Pitch Classic" at Chillicothe's V.A. Memorial Field - 6-3 over Bishop Watterson and 13-2 over the Greyhounds from Grove City - and split a doubleheader at Dublin Jerome on Saturday (see the corner's stories below). Both scores versus the Jerome Celtics were 4-3. Among the 'Cats' standouts all weekend was senior shortstop Tyler Finkler, who came up with key hits and flashed a golden glove.

As for the Jackson Polar Bears, coach Bill Gamble's club opened its season with a 5-2 victory at Tallmadge, lost both ends of its home-and-home series with Hoover, 10-5 and 2-1, and was turned away at Canton South on Saturday, 5-4.

The Polar Bears were 20-6 last season, including a victory over the Wildcats at Jackson. Coach Gamble and his Polar Bears suffered a major setback in the off season, when senior right-handed pitching ace Johnny Nottingham underwent shoulder surgery. Nottingham is an Akron recruit. Among Jackson's mainstays are junior outfielder/shortstop Jake Miller and senior first baseman/right-handed pitcher Andrew Stalnaker. Stalnaker led the Polar Bears last year by hitting .342 with 10 doubles and 26 RBI. Miller batted .286 in 2012 after putting together a freshman season that saw him hit .392 with four home runs. NOTE: The batting stats are courtesy of the Massillon Jackson web site.

****Just a reminder that the Wildcats' Home Opener is Wednesday afternoon versus the Nordonia Knights. The first pitch from Classic Park is 4:30. Classic Park is located at 35300 Vine Street in Eastlake.

****THE AIR WAVES: Senior John Fanta will broadcast both Tuesday's game at Jackson and Wednesday's Home Opener live over the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network.    

Incoming Freshman Baseball Camp
4/8/2013

Saint Ignatius High School will be hosting a Baseball Camp for incoming freshmen this July.

The camp will be conducted by the Saint Ignatius coaching staff and players. The camp is open for all members of the Class of 2017.

For more information and to register, visit www.ignatius.edu/baseballcamp.

Wildcats and Celtics split a doubleheader in Dublin
4/6/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2013

Coach Brad Ganor's varsity baseball program completed a successful weekend by splitting a doubleheader at Dublin Jerome High School on Saturday. Senior shortstop and captain Tyler Finkler helped fuel the offense and was golden on defense. 

In winning three out of four games over Friday and Saturday, the Wildcats improved to 3-3 heading into a Tuesday match up with the always sound Massillon Jackson Polar Bears. The first pitch at Jackson will be 4:30.

Here is the varsity doubleheader story and a recap on the junior varsity's sweep in Dublin follows the varsity story. 

Dublin, Ohio - To describe this past week as a roller coaster of emotions for Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor, his staff and his players would be an understatement.

After starting the week with losses at Ashland, a Division I regional finalist last season, and at Amherst Steele, a program with regional-and-beyond aspirations this spring, Coach Ganor’s Wildcats boarded the bus and headed South on Friday.

And in this corner’s humble opinion, I think it is safe to say that those emotions are now on an upward spiral.

The Wildcats, after two eye-opening victories in Chillicothe on Friday (see the corner’s story from Friday night), made the short trip down the road to Dublin, Ohio on Saturday and came away with a split against the
always solid Celtics from Jerome High School. Both games ended in identical 4-3 scores, with Saint Ignatius prevailing in the opener.

“When you look at one week, Monday to today, Wednesday we weren’t sleeping because we didn’t know what was going to happen or where we were going to get our first win,” said Coach Ganor after Saturday’s twin bill
on the spacious and impressive Jerome campus. “And then yesterday (Friday), to play as well as we did, and in the first game today we battled and hung on to win it.

"Yesterday we fought back to win them," Coach Ganor continued. "But you can’t do it every game and you can’t expect the offense to do it every game. Once in a while, you need the pitching and defense to throw up a zero or a one spot. That’s what we do at Saint Ignatius and that’s what we should do at Saint Ignatius.”

While the offense had some huge moments on Friday, including a 13-run inning against the highly successful program from Grove City, there was enough clutch pitching and some timely defense from senior shortstop and captain Tyler Finkler to enable the Wildcats to run-rule Grove City and defeat Bishop Watterson by three runs.

In Saturday’s opening-game victory over Jerome, Finkler’s glove was again golden and the ‘Cats’ offense, which also had a Finkler flair, was opportunistic.

Saint Ignatius (3-3), which could see both Ashland and Amherst Steele in the postseason, jumped out to a three-run lead over the Celtics in the top of the first inning.

With one out, Finkler lined a single to right-center field and advanced to second on a pitch in the dirt. An infield hit by senior center fielder and captain Conor Hennessey put runners on first and third base, and Finkler came home on an ill-advised pick-off attempt.

An RBI single by junior right fielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Toth and another error by the Celtics had the Wildcats sitting at 3-0.

It stayed that way until the bottom of the fourth, when Jerome’s senior first baseman Tom Coon led off and drove a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left field. Senior pitcher/first baseman Jason Johnson followed with a
base hit to right field, senior center fielder Cam Willms (correct) laid down a sacrifice bunt and a two-base throwing error cut Saint Ignatius’ lead to 3-2.

Finkler sparked the Wildcats’ fifth-inning response by sending a single through the left side and moving to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hennessey.  With two outs, Finkler stole third and came around to score Saint Ignatius’ fourth run when the throw from the catcher went up the third-base line.

Jerome, which suffered its fourth one-run loss of the season, with three of those defeats coming in extra innings, made things a little tight in the bottom of the seventh.

However, after two consecutive one-out walks and an RBI single by senior catcher Kyle Lento made it a 4-3 game, junior right-hander Shane Skuhrovec came on in relief and picked up the save. However, I am sure Shane would have no problem with us giving Finkler half of the save.

After Lento’s run-scoring single put runners on first and second with one out, Finkler made a highlight-reel play that saw him come up with a smooth back-handed stop deep in the hole at short and, in one motion, fire to third base to force out the lead runner. Skuhrovec then got the final out on a fly ball to right field.

Senior left-hander Tom Rolle (1-0) made his first start of the season for the Wildcats, going five innings and throwing 75 pitches. Johnson threw 95 pitches for the Celtics.

JEROME 4, SAINT IGNATIUS 3: The Wildcats started fast in Game 2, with senior second baseman and captain Dan Rowbottom leading off the top of the first with a single and Finkler laying down a perfect bunt that he beat out for a base hit.

Saint Ignatius led, 2-0, entering the bottom of the first after junior left fielder Nick Fabian and Longo delivered RBI singles.

However, the Celtics answered with two runs in their half of the first, the second tally coming off a two-out, bases-loaded walk.

Jerome, which improved to 3-4, took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the second on a two-out RBI single by Johnson. The run was set up by a walk, a balk and another base on balls.

Saint Ignatius, trailing, 4-2, entering the top of the fifth, made it a one-run deficit on a double the opposite way by the left-handed hitting Rowbottom, a base hit by Finkler and a slow chopper to the left side off the
bat of Hennessey.

Hennessey also gave his team a final shot in the top of the seventh when, with two outs and nobody on base, he lined a sharp grounder off the second baseman’s glove and promptly stole second base.

However, Celtics senior pitcher/shortstop and Akron recruit Masashi Sakamoto, who threw 124 pitches in going the distance, got the final out on a close play at first base.

COACH TIM CLARK'S JUNIOR VARSITY IMPROVES TO 5-0 WITH A SWEEP OVER THE CELTICS, 9-4 AND 10-8.

In game one, Dylan Smolen went 1-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. He also drew two walks. Kurt Mantes was also 1-for-3 with two RBI and two walks, and Jake Kucia was 1-for-3, with an RBI, two runs and two free passes.

Mullen Socha pitched five innings for the victory, yielding four hits and two earned runs. Mullen struck out two and issued two walks.

In Game 2, Sam Fuller was 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. Socha had 2 hits in 5 at-bats and drove in three runs, and Nick Jackson was 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Cool-hand Luke Diggs yielded just one hit and did not give up a run in five innings on the mound. He struck out six and walked two.

Saint Ignatius stuns Grove City with a 13-run fourth inning
4/5/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2013

Chillicothe, Ohio – Saint Ignatius’ gifted senior second baseman Dan Rowbottom enjoys success as much as any baseball player ever to wear the Wildcats’ Blue and Gold.

That said, Rowbottom, a three-year varsity mainstay and one of Coach Brad Ganor’s four captains this spring, took a calm approach after Saint Ignatius started its very promising 2013 season with back-to-back losses.

And that mental approach, along with a bat and glove that have earned Rowbottom a scholarship to Illinois, helped play a major role in the Wildcats’ impressive bounce back performance on Friday in the “We Can Play”
First Pitch Classic at baseball atmosphere-rich V. A. Memorial Stadium.

“Well obviously it’s huge,” said Rowbottom of Saint Ignatius’ victories over Bishop Watterson and Grove City on Friday. “This was something that we dealt with last year, too, when we were 3-5. The returning starters knew it wasn’t panic time. But today was especially big for the younger guys, to get a feeling that we’re never out of a game. It’s kind of cool that they got a little victory taste and now they believe it too.”

Don’t try telling the faithful from Grove City there was anything small about the loss Coach Ganor’s team laid on the highly regarded Greyhounds.

After rallying from a 2-0, first-inning deficit and defeating Bishop Watterson, 6-3, in Friday’s first game, the Wildcats (2-2) put together one of the most impressive responses in the long and successful history of Saint Ignatius baseball.

In stunning Grove City, 13-2, the Wildcats, trailing, 2-0, scored all 13 of their runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. The game was called after the top of the fifth because of the state’s 10-run mercy rule.

The 13-run outburst saw Coach Ganor’s team send 18 batters to the plate in the fabulous fourth. Yes, 18 batters took their cuts in just one inning against a Greyhounds program that advanced to the Division I state final four in 2011 and 2012, and has won 20 or more games over the past four seasons.

"We were up against the wall,” said Coach Ganor of the Grove City game. “They had us off balance and it seemed like they were taking it to us a little bit. They were hitting the ball all over the place and we weren’t
doing anything. Something just clicked.

"The score will not reflect how good Grove City is,” Coach Ganor continued. “It truly won’t. That pitcher (Greyhounds starter Josh Schaffer) dominated us for three innings. And we basically scored most of those
runs off the same guy. So I don’t think it was reflective of what Grove City is capable of doing, but it is reflective of what we’re capable of doing.”

Saint Ignatius did a little bit of everything in the bottom of the fourth and it all started with junior right fielder/pitcher and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo lining a single into left field with one out and nobody
on base.

Junior third baseman Quillen Austria followed Longo’s effort by beating out an infield hit and, after junior outfielder/pitcher Shane Skuhrovec loaded the bases by drawing a walk, there was a bit of a hush over the
Greyhounds’ side of the field.

That hush turned to silence when senior designated hitter Kevin Hagen delivered an RBI off a line drive to right field that tailed away from the outfielder.  An errant pick-off attempt knotted the score at 2 and the ‘Cats took the lead on an authoritative line drive single to left-center field by junior first baseman Joe Khoury.

After the runners advanced on a pitch in the dirt, Rowbottom, who swung a hot bat all day, lined a single into center for Saint Ignatius’ fourth run. The fifth run came around to score when Grove City’s center fielder had difficulty picking up the baseball.

Following a stolen base by Rowbottom, senior captain and shortstop Tyler Finkler, who made some outstanding momentum-swinging plays in the field, pushed his team’s lead to 6-2 with a base hit to right center.

Two fielding errors by the Greyhounds loaded the bases again and the Wildcats completed their 13-run barrage with bases-full walks to Longo and Austria, another fielding error by Grove City, a sharp run-scoring grounder to the right side by Hagen and more damage by Khoury and Rowbottom, who left no
doubt with back-to-back RBI singles.

Junior Nick Fabian, a five-tool player in the field, made his first varsity start and scattered seven hits over five innings.

"That was their first game today and our second, so that says something,” said Rowbotttom, who referred to the Wildcats’ lineup as having many interchangeable parts.

Khoury, who put together two solid offensive games, said he was more relaxed on Friday.

"With these two wins today, we can build off of it and hopefully come out tomorrow and sweep again,” Khoury said of Saint Ignatius’ doubleheader at Dublin Jerome on Saturday, which begins at 11 a.m.

SAINT IGNATIUS 6, BISHOP WATTERSON 3: The Wildcats’ first rally of the afternoon started in the top of the second, when some small ball enabled them to tie the score at 2.

It was a four-run fourth, some strong recovery work by junior southpaw starter Nick Margevicius and solid performances out of the bullpen by Skuhrovec and Longo that eventually told the tale and keyed the ‘Cats’
first triumph of 2013. The four-run fourth featured an RBI double down the left-field line by Khoury and a two-run single up the middle by Rowbottom, who went 3-for-3 in the first game.  

Saint Ignatius JV Baseball win third straight over Brunswick 6-1
4/5/2013

Saint Ignatius' junior varsity baseball team stands 3-0 after a 6-1 victory at Brunswick on Thursday.

In its first three games combined, JV 'Cats baseball has outscored its opponents, 23-2.  

 

-Eddie Dwyer

Wildcats are turned back at Amherst Steele, 10-3, in Wednesday's varsity baseball action.
4/3/2013

The Comets improve to 4-0 by scoring four times in the bottom of the first inning and responding with four more runs after Saint Ignatius (0-2) cut a six-run deficit in half with a three-run fifth.

In junior varsity play, the JV 'Cats prevailed, 5-1, and now stand 2-0 on the young season.

Up next for the Varsity Wildcats is trip to Chillicothe on Friday for a doubleheader in the "We Can Play" tournament. Saint Ignatius will face Bishop Watterson at 1, followed by a match up with Grove City at 5 p.m. Friday's games are scheduled to be televised on tape delay over Time Warner Cable on Friday night. Check your TV listings to see what portion of the state will be among the viewing audience.

On Saturday, Saint Ignatius will travel to Dublin Jerome High School for a doubleheader against the Celtics. The first pitch is slated for 11 a.m.

****NOTE: If you can't make the trip this weekend, the golden tones of senior John "I haven't seen a curveball I couldn't hit" Fanta will be doing his best Tom Hamilton live over the Saint Ignatius Student Brodcasting Network. John's special press box guest in Chillicothe will be Saint Ignatius President Rev. William J. Murphy, S.J.   

Here is the varsity game story from Amherst Steele.

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2013

Lorain County – Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor said the Amherst Steele Comets, a team with high expectations this spring, definitely took it to his Wildcats on the Comets’ home field late Wednesday afternoon.

While there are no excuses being offered or accepted, there is no one associated with Wildcats’ baseball that is panicking right now.

Saint Ignatius, a program that sets the expectation bar at a high level every season, slipped to 0-2 after the Comets scored four times in the first inning and went on to a 10-3 victory that has them standing undefeated after four games.

Sure, every Saint Ignatius coach, player and member of its faithful would love to be 2-0 right now. But the operative number is 2. Let’s wait a few weeks before allowing any major concerns to keep us from enjoying
what will eventually be a season of success.

“Don’t worry, we’ll bounce back,” said Wildcats senior captain and Illinois recruit Dan Rowbottom, as he was making his way to the parking lot at Amherst Steele early Wednesday evening.

Coach Ganor and his staff are as confident as Rowbottom but, at the same time, want this 2013 blend of experience and promising youth to learn from both Monday’s 6-5 loss at Ashland and what took place in Lorain County on Wednesday.

“As I told them after the game, we have to stick together,” said Coach Ganor, who entered this season, his ninth as the Wildcats’ skipper, with a career record of 170-59. That mark includes a school record of three
consecutive state final four appearances (2007, ’08 and ’09).

“Every season has a point where you lose a couple in a row and you see what your team is made of,” Coach Ganor continued.  “And maybe this is our ‘What are we made of?’ It’s never happened in the first
week of the season, but if it does, then so be it. If we’re better for it on the back end, then fine.”

Amherst Steele, a junior and senior-laden club led by senior pitcher/third baseman and Stanford Cardinal recruit Griffin Weir, sent eight batters to the plate en route to taking a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first. The big blows were a bases-loaded double to center field by senior left fielder Brandon Chesmar and an RBI single to center by junior catcher Justin Mott.

A couple of throwing errors led to another Comets run in the second inning and base hits by Weir,
Mott and junior right fielder Alex Walts had coach Matt Rositano’s team in the driver’s seat at 6-0 through three innings.

It stayed that way until the top of the fifth when, with two outs and nobody on base, the Wildcats took advantage of some control problems by Comets pitching and loaded the bases. An errant pick-off attempt, a dropped fly ball and an RBI infield hit down the third base line by junior designated hitter Shane Skuhrovec enabled Saint Ignatius to cut the deficit to 6-3.

Amherst Steele grabbed the momentum right back by scoring twice in the bottom of the fifth. The runs were set up by a dropped fly ball and a throwing error.

The Comets then took command with a two-run bottom of the sixth that featured a line-drive base hit up the middle by junior shortstop Kody Bledsoe and a double off the fence in center field by Weir.

“Our pitchers are very good,” said Coach Ganor. “We just need to tweak a couple of things here and there. Our hitters are very good. They just need to understand that our game plan, what we practice and what we talk about in practice can’t change when we get to the game. And for some reason, what we are talking about and executing in practice every day is just not translating to the field right now.

“It’s April 3 and we have a lot of baseball ahead of us,” Coach Ganor continued. “The schedule isn’t going to get any easier, nor should it. We shouldn’t be playing creampuffs to win games. If we go .500 (in the
regular season) and we’re playing in Columbus in June, then fantastic. But at some point we need to build some confidence, too. I get that.

“These guys need to learn how to win and scoring first would be a good step in the right direction.”

JV Wildcats 5, Amherst Steele's Jayvees 1: Wildcats head coach Tim Clark said his 2-0 junior varsity got some strong pitching and a timely offense fueled by Ryan Alexander, Dylan Smolen, Luke Diggs and Sam Fuller.             

'Cats stage a gritty rally only to be turned away by Ashland, 6-5, in the season opener for varsity baseball.
4/1/2013

Trailing, 5-0, through four innings, Saint Ignatius ties the score heading into the bottom of the sixth. However, the Arrows respond with a run in their half of the sixth and go on to secure the 1,000th victory in the history of Ashland's varsity baseball program.

Up next for the Wildcats is a trip to Amherst Steele on Wednesday for a 4:30 match up with the Comets.

Saint Ignatius' junior varsity, under the direction of new head coach Tim Clark, dominates the Arrows, 12-0.

Here is the varsity game story, along with the junior varsity recap.

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright April 2013

Ashland, Ohio - As he was preparing to board the bus back to Saint Ignatius, Wildcats head baseball coach Brad Ganor looked at this corner and said: “That was a lot of drama for the first date of the year.”

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the final emotional scene was produced by the Ashland Arrows, who, after watching Saint Ignatius erase a five-run deficit, turned back the ‘Cats, 6-5, in Monday’s 2013 season opener on the Arrows’ Bud Plank Field.

“They came ready to play in the first inning and obviously we weren’t,” said Coach Ganor of Ashland’s four-run bottom of the first. “We woke up, but it took us awhile to get going. We’re Saint Ignatius High School,
we should be ready to go on day one, pitch one. There is no excuse.”

After setting the Wildcats down in order, Ashland scored four times in its half of the first inning. Right fielder Jake Allton set the table with a lead off triple to right field and scored on a wild pitch. The other big blow was a one out RBI single to right by third baseman David Van Hove, and the Arrows created their third and fourth runs by taking advantage of three consecutive walks issued by Saint Ignatius.

With Ashland’s starting pitcher Corey Goetz making clutch pitches and keeping the Wildcats off-balance through four innings, the Arrows played some small ball en route to pushing their lead to 5-0 through four
innings. That bottom-of-the-fourth small ball featured a bunt for a base hit by shortstop Nick Zurcher and a sacrifice bunt by left fielder/relief pitcher Austin Bouquet.

“It comes down to throwing quality pitches, being able to command three pitches and not just pump fastballs at them,” Coach Ganor said. “It’s a regional-final team, they can hit. And when you can’t throw off-speed pitches for strikes, it limits what you can do. I thought Matt (senior right-hander Matt Lynch) did a nice job of settling down after that first inning and giving us a pitch count so we didn’t have to burn somebody early.”

Coach Ganor also pointed to the solid job 6-foot-4 junior right-hander Shane Skuhrovec did in keeping Saint Ignatius in the game with his effort out of the bullpen. Skuhrovec came on in relief in the third inning with runners on second and third and no outs, and didn’t allow any further damage in that inning.

Saint Ignatius, a Division I regional semifinalist in 2012, got its offense on track in the top of the fifth and cut the deficit to 5-3. Three of the Wildcats’ four senior captains – center fielder Conor Hennessey, shortstop
Tyler Finkler and second baseman Dan Rowbottom provided the RBI base hits.

After junior left fielder/relief pitcher Nick Fabian retired Ashland in order on a pop out and two strikeouts in the bottom of the fifth, Saint Ignatius tied the score in the top of the sixth on a one-out double by senior pinch hitter Kevin Hagen, two errors on the same play and a two-out RBI single by Hennessey.

However, with two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the sixth, the Arrows came up with singles by Bouquet and Allton and scored the game’s final and decisive run on a wild pitch.

“Once they shook the cobwebs, our offense showed some life,” said Coach Ganor. “But ultimately you can’t spot a regional-final team five runs and expect to win the game. They’re (the Arrows) taking pictures on the
mound. This was a big deal for them.

“We talk to the kids a lot about the fact that we’re every team’s big game of the year,” Coach Ganor continued. “It’s unfortunate that it took us so long to get going. But, the best thing about baseball is that we don’t have to wait a week to play. We play on Wednesday. You have to persevere and playing in playoff games with warmer weather is the ultimate goal.”

JV RECAP

Saint Ignatius 12, Ashland 0: The JV ‘Cats jumped on the Arrows for three runs in both the
first and third innings and left no doubt with a three-run seventh.

Among the key hits in the first inning were a single by designated hitter Ryan Alexander and an RBI single by shortstop Kurt Mantes.

A double by Alexander, a run-scoring single by Mantes and a two-out, two-run single by right fielder Dylan Smolen put the Wildcats in command at 7-0 in the top of the third.

The Saint Ignatius offense just kept on rolling, as two-out RBI singles by third baseman Dylan Welch and first baseman Nick Jackson pushed the ‘Cats’ lead to 9-0 in the fourth and a two-run single by infielder Joe Conway in the seventh added frosting to the victory cake.

Tim Clark was also treated to some solid pitching in his debut as Saint Ignatius’ head JV coach. Starter MJ Nara pitched four perfect innings, striking out five, and Andrew Ciolli came on and struck out six over
the last three innings while yielding two hits and a walk.

Saint Ignatius baseball at Ashland on Monday.
3/29/2013

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor said his Wildcats will open their 2013 season at Ashland on Monday.

The bus will leave Saint Ignatius at 8:45 a.m. There will be a junior varsity game at 11, followed by the varsity match up.

As we reported earlier in the week, Ashland replaces Boardman as the 'Cats' season-opening opponent. Boardman's field is not in game shape yet.

The Ashland Arrows were a Division I regional finalist last spring, losing to Westlake, 10-7, in an elite-eight encounter. 

VIDEO: SIBN Across the Table with Coach Ganor
3/29/2013

Change in Wildcats baseball schedule
3/27/2013

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor said Monday's (April 1) opening game of the season at Boardman has been canceled because of adverse field conditions caused by the recent inclement weather.

Coach Ganor said Ashland has agreed to host the Wildcats on Monday if the Arrows can get their field playable. Ashland is expected to make a decision on its field by Friday. Ashland was a Division I regional finalist last spring, losing to Westlake, 10-7, in the regional title game of the Case Western Reserve bracket.

The 2013 Saint Ignatius Varsity Baseball Preview
3/22/2013

Optimism and confidence are at the fore, as Coach Brad Ganor’s Wildcats prepare for another demanding schedule.

Saint Ignatius, a deep, talented and versatile club, appears to have that special chemistry all successful teams bring to the diamond.

Senior captains Conor Hennessey, Tyler Finkler, Dan Rowbottom and Kyle Pluta will help show the way for a solid nucleus of veterans and underclassmen.

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright March 2013

Ohio City – After eight seasons as the head varsity baseball coach at Saint Ignatius, a period that has produced a record of 170-59, a school-best three consecutive state final four appearances (2007,’08 and ’09) and more than 50 players extending their careers to the college level, Brad Ganor does not sugar coat or pull any punches when evaluating his teams.

So when Coach Ganor expresses how optimistic he is about his 2013 Wildcats, Saint Ignatius’ baseball faithful can rest assure this is a season in which success, more than hope, will spring eternal.

“I keep telling the players and I have told a lot of people that rarely do I walk around feeling as confident as I do about this year’s team,” said Coach Ganor while discussing the upcoming season with the corner on Wednesday afternoon. “I’ve been telling people outwardly that I’m confident about it. I think it’s probably the strongest team collectively, one through 20, that we’ve put together since 2009.

“Our pitching is deeper than it has been in a long, long time,” Coach Ganor continued.

Under the guidance of veteran pitching coach T. J. Donovan ’94, a former baseball and football mainstay for the Wildcats who went on to play professional baseball, Saint Ignatius will feature some arms that are already
big game tested and arms that have plenty of promise. While the snow is still falling, Coach Ganor and Coach Donovan are confident that they have those special go-to guys to put on the mound.

“We have those guys,” Coach Ganor said. “They just have to come to the surface.”

In senior southpaw Tom Rolle and senior right-hander Kyle Pluta, the Wildcats feature two young men who were called on in many key situations during last spring’s regional-semifinal season. Tom and Kyle will be furthering their education and baseball careers at Ashland and Tiffin, respectively.

Senior right-hander and Lakeland recruit Matt Lynch, who has been throwing some fire in preseason, gifted junior left-hander Nick Margevicius, who pitched very well after being called up to the varsity last year, and junior southpaw/outfielder and Miami of Ohio recruit Nick Longo are among the other seasoned pitchers.

“Having those guys with just not game experience, but big game experience that they got from last year is huge,” Coach Ganor said. “They pitched significant innings that weren’t just mid week innings. They pitched in playoff atmospheres.

“We have five arms that are 85 plus and two of those five are 90 plus,” said Coach Ganor, who was a baseball and football standout at St. Edward High School, a key pitcher for the Vikings of Cleveland State University and started his career at Saint Ignatius as a pitching coach. “If they pitch to what they are capable of doing, they are going to be fantastic.”

Providing the depth every pitching staff needs will be 6-foot-4 junior right-hander/outfielder Shane Skuhrovec and junior right-hander/outfielder Nick Fabian, an exceptional all-around player who is expected to start in left field. Fabian helped lead the Wildcats’ outstanding junior varsity team of 2012 to a 21-2 record.

“Their roles will be defined,” Coach Ganor said. “We will have Kyle (Pluta), Tom (Rolle), Matt (Lynch) and Nick (Margevicius) as probably those first four guys that are starters and hopefully Nick Longo to close at the end.”

After being one of the few, if not the only team in Ohio, to go exclusively with wood bats last season, Saint Ignatius is switching back to the aluminum bats this spring.

While the ‘Cats produced enough offense to help them win 20 games and advance to the final 16 in Division I in 2012, the players seem to prefer the aluminum, a bat they use on a regular basis with their summer teams. No matter what the makeup of the bats, Coach Ganor looks at this year’s team as being one of the strongest he has seen in his time at Cleveland’s Jesuit Preparatory School.

“I said to somebody the other day that it’s like Manny Ramirez hitting eighth in 1995,” said Coach Ganor of his potentially potent one through nine hitters. “Our lineup is loaded. It looks great, we feel great about it and it’s great on paper right now. But when it comes down to it, they have to produce. Talk is cheap, as they say, and when they get the opportunity to produce they have to take care of business.”

Among those expected to spark the offense are senior center fielder and lead-off hitter Conor Hennessey, who was the Wildcats’ Offensive Player of the Year in 2012 after hitting .352 with six doubles and two triples, senior Tyler Finkler, who is moving from third base to shortstop this season and has the makeup of a very good two-hole hitter, and three-year varsity mainstay and Illinois recruit – senior second baseman Dan Rowbottom – in the three hole.

“We have an idea where we are going to be defensively for game one,” Coach Ganor said. "It is just going to be where we fill those gaps one through nine in the order. We have speed all through the lineup and we have
potential power all through the lineup. We have guys that have a lot of gap to gap power, which is hopefully going to produce a lot of RBI opportunities.”

When you look at the overall picture, Coach Ganor and his other veteran assistants – Matt Blazer ’94, Josh Bieneman and Mark Terlep – have to love the depth of the 2013 ‘Cats.

Saint Ignatius has three very capable catchers in junior Pat Gulick and seniors Kevin Hagen (Wooster recruit) and Jagger Bruck. The left-handed hitting Gulick is expected to be the opening day starter, but as Coach
Ganor emphasized, he and his staff are very comfortable with all three of their young men behind the plate.

Depth also resides at first base, where junior Joe Khoury is expected to start and more-than-capable junior Bennett Kinzel is backing him up. Versatile senior Jordan Bufford provides plenty of options as a middle infielder, as do junior middle infielders Quillen Austria and David Bodziony. Senior third baseman Cole Nieto is being counted on to handle the hot corner.

“The speed and arms in our outfield are unbelievable,” Coach Ganor said in reference to Fabian, Hennessey, Longo, gritty junior Kyle Daugenti and Skuhrovec. “And they are burners, absolute burners. It’s the best
collection of outfield speed that we have ever had in my 15 years (overall).

“We’re going to be good, we’re going to win a lot of games,” Coach Ganor added. “We know that. But in 2007, ’08 and ’09 we took it to a different level in the playoffs. We’re going to expect to do the same. Our expectation is that we have a team capable of making a deep run in the tournament.”

FROM THE CAPTAINS’ PERSPECTIVE

Conor Hennessey: “We have up-tempo practices, a lot of high energy. The attitude and the atmosphere are very good.”

Tyler Finkler: “You have to field the ball quickly, and not just knock it down. You have to field it cleanly and quickly in making the good throw on time.” – Tyler on his move to shortstop after an excellent defensive performance at third base last season.

Kyle Pluta: “We’re all going to pick each other up. The competitiveness within the staff is just going to help everyone get better. It’s mind-boggling when you think of how much pitching we have and the excitement around the program. Everyone has the confidence to take the ball in any situation. It’s a great mindset to have on the mound.”

More from Finkler: “Who’s ever out there on the mound, I feel very comfortable. Throw any of our six, seven guys and I think we’ll get a W.”

More from Hennessey: “I like them all, a lot,” Conor said of the promising juniors from last year’s highly successful JV team. “If I had to choose one of them to take along on a vacation, I would take all of them.”

More from Pluta: “I think us (seniors and juniors) lifting together in the off season built a lot of team chemistry. The younger guys are so confident in their abilities that no one is afraid to make a mistake. I think that when you’re confident, you play to the best of your ability."

VIKING PRIDE: St. Joseph and John from Strongsville leads the way with five players on the Wildcats’ 20-man 2013 roster – Hennessey, Rolle, Gulick, Fabian and Khoury.

A NEW HOME AND ANOTHER IMPRESSIVE SLATE: The Wildcats’ home games this spring will be played in Classic Park in Eastlake, the home of the Lake County Captains.

Saint Ignatius is scheduled to open its season on April 1 at Boardman. On April 3, the ‘Cats travel to Amherst Steele to face the highly regarded Comets and in what is an overnight stay trip, Saint Ignatius will be in Chillicothe on April 5 to play Bishop Watterson (1 p.m.) and Grove City (5 p.m.) and on April 6 the ‘Cats will gas up the bus and head from Chillicothe to Dublin Jerome for a doubleheader with the Celtics (11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.).

The home opener against Nordonia is scheduled for April 10 at Classic Park and the annual Ohio Jesuit Tournament is ticketed for Classic Park on May 4-5. In what will be a rematch of last year’s regional semifinal, won by the Demons, 6-4, Saint Ignatius will play under the lights at Westlake on April 16. The ‘Cats will also return to Progressive Field this season for a prime-time match up with Avon Lake on April 26 and the games versus rival St. Edward are slated for April 24 at Classic Park and May 11 at Baldwin-Wallace. For a look at the complete schedule go to www.ignatius.edu, click on athletics and click on baseball.

Wildcats baseball players Matt Lynch, Cole Nieto and Kevin Hagen make their college commitments.
3/12/2013

By Eddie Dwyer

Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor informed the corner on Tuesday that three more of his Wildcats have committed to further their educations and baseball careers at the next level.

Right-handed pitcher Matt Lynch is bound for Lakeland and infielder Cole Nieto and catcher Kevin Hagen have chosen Wooster.

Congratulations to Matt, Cole and Kevin and their families, as these young men are now among nearly 60 players in Coach Ganor's program to have the opportunity to play college baseball.

Eddie Dwyer's 2013 Baseball Season Preview Coming Week of March 18
3/10/2013

Eddie Dwyer will be writing the best preview out there for the Saint Ignatius Wildcat Baseball team in the week of March 18.

For the Wildcats' schedule, go back to ignatius.edu/baseball.

 

The preview is right around the corner!

Baseball opponent at Progressive Field is set.
2/11/2013

*PRIME TIME BASEBALL: Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor confirmed that his Wildcats will play Avon Lake in Progressive Field on April 26th. The first pitch is scheduled for 8 p.m.

 

-Eddie Dwyer

Saint Ignatius Baseball Infielder Dan Rowbottom Signs to Illinois, Reflects on Signing Day
2/6/2013

A Day That Was Cherished By Many

Saint Ignatius senior baseball standout Dan Rowbotttom reflects on National Signing Day

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright February 2013

Ohio City - With his parents, grandparents and other family members in attendance, Saint Ignatius baseball standout and senior captain Dan Rowbottom signed a national letter of intent on Wednesday afternoon to further his education and athletic career at the University of Illinois.

Dan joined several of his classmates in Saint Ignatius’ Breen Center for the Performing Arts on what was “National Signing Day” for student athletes from the Class of 2013.

After members of the media interviewed and photographed many of the Wildcats and rightfully proud family members and friends took their photos, Dan Rowbottom shared with the Corner the many emotions he was experiencing on such a special day.

“It means a lot, especially to get it (his college decision) officially off my shoulders,” said Dan. “It’s really exciting, a big deal. Saint Ignatius and all of the coaches really did a great job of helping us with this. Now I can go and just play the game I love.”

And he plays it well.

Dan will be entering his third season as middle infield mainstay for Wildcats Head Coach Brand Ganor, who has now honed the skills of nearly sixty players who have or will have gone on to play at the next level. Last season, a
spring in which Saint Ignatius was the only team in Ohio to play exclusively with wood bats, Dan hit .313 with nine doubles, three triples and a home run, and combined with shortstop Mike Ruffing '12 in forming one of the strongest middle infields in the area. Dan's efforts helped Coach Ganor's Wildcats to a Division I regional-semifinal appearance.

A Sun Newspapers All-Star selection for 2012, Dan will serve as one of Coach Ganor's captains for the 2013 season. He will join senior pitcher Kyle Pluta, senior infielder Tyler Finkler and senior outfielder Conor Hennessey in that leadership role.

“It’s really exciting, because we have a lot of talent this year, a lot of talent,” Dan said. “A lot of veteran guys and good pitching again, we’re definitely going to make a run. We just have a close-knit group of guys. It's going to be a fun season, it really is.”

Dan emphasized that the best part of the day was having his family there to share his special moment.

“One of my grandparents (Sam Geraci) is in the hospital and couldn’t be here today,” Dan said. “Both sets of my grandparents are usually my biggest cheering section at the games, they come to every game. They’re great, they really are.

“My cousin got off work to be here today and of course my mom and dad went with me on all of my recruiting visits,” Dan continued. “They’re so relieved and so happy for me. I can’t thank them enough.”

Dan said that he wanted to keep his options open and not commit to a college or university too early.

“I had a couple of early offers and I was pretty set on Cincinnati to be honest,” he said. “Illinois was never a school I looked into, but it came up after I had a real good weekend at a tournament. I made a visit and I just loved it. I felt like I fit in there. I love everything about it.”

Dan said he wants to definitely major in business. “Both of my parents are doctors, so I know I don’t want to do that,” he said with a wide smile that was accompanied by laughter.

The Corner had the opportunity to congratulate most of the Wildcats during their special day, but let this old-timer just say it one more time along with a sincere Thank You for the privilege to have covered and reported on your many
accomplishments.

May God Bless You Always, Eddie

 

Wildcats finalize their baseball captains for 2013
1/18/2013

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

Congratulations go out from the corner to senior third baseman/middle infielder Tyler Finkler and 
senior pitcher Kyle Pluta, who were voted as Saint Ignatius' final two captains for the upcoming baseball season.

Tyler and Kyle were recognized for their hard work in the off-season in a vote by the players and coaches. They join senior middle infielder Dan Rowbottom and outfielder Conor Hennessey as Coach Brad Ganor's captains for 2013. Conor and Dan were named as captains during the season-ending banquet last summer.

For a complete look at the 2013 baseball schedule, see the corner's story from earlier in the week - "We're talking baseball."

Looking Ahead to Baseball Season
1/15/2013

Posted by Eddie Dwyer

It's never too early to talk baseball, so we thought we would give you a look at what head coach Brad Ganor has worked up for his Wildcats this spring.

There are plenty of attractive dates, including an early season overnight trip to Chillicothe and Dublin (that's Ohio, not Ireland).

On April 16, the Wildcats will travel to Westlake for an under-the-lights rematch of last season's Division I Regional semifinal, won by the Demons. Classic Park will be the site of the first of the annual two-game series between the Wildcats and rival St. Edward, with the date slated for April 24, and Classic Park will host the prestigious Ohio Jesuit Tournament on May 4 and 5. Saint Ignatius will be returning to Progessive Field this spring for a game on April 26. The time and the opponent are to be determined.

The weekend of May 10-11 is one to mark on the calendar, as Saint Ignatius and Lakewood will meet in tradition-rich Lakewood Stadium on that Friday night at 7 and on Saturday the 11th, it's the second regular-season encounter with St. Edward at Baldwin Wallace. The first pitch from B-W will be 4 p.m. These two games drew exceptional crowds last season on what was a beautiful May weekend. We'll keep our fingers crossed that Mother Nature is kind two years in a row.

Lakewood Stadium created a true baseball atmosphere last year, with pre-game introductions of each player and coach and some lively music between innings. And the same can be said for B-W, which also hosted the second regular-season meeting between the 'Cats and the Eagles last spring. That day included freshman and junior varisty games between Saint Ignatius and St. Edward, which only added to what was a competitive, but well-played and good-natured late morning and afternoon, complete with a picnic.

Rounding third and heading home. Here is the 2013 schedule   

    

Saint Ignatius Varsity Baseball

2013 Schedule

Date                                      Opponent                                           Location                                               Time

4/1, 4:30 pm                                         @Boardman                         Boardman  HS                                 

4/3, 4:30 pm                                        @Amherst                            Amherst HS

4/5, 1 pm                                         vs. Bishop Watterson               Chillicothe                                         

4/5, 5 pm                                         vs. Grove City                          Chillicothe                                         

4/6,11 am                                         @Dublin Jerome                      Jerome HS

4/6, 1:30 pm                                     @Dublin Jerome                      Jerome HS

4/9, 4:30 pm                                     @Jackson                                Massillon Jackson HS

4/10, 4:30 pm                                  Nordonia                                Classic Park

4/11, 4:30 pm                                   @Hoban                                 Archbishop Hoban HS

4/13, 11 am                                      @Canfield                               Bob Cene Park

4/15, 4:30 pm                                   @SVSM                                   Patterson Park

4/16, 7 pm                                       @Westlake                               Westlake HS

4/18, 4:30 pm                                  Twinsburg                              Baldwin Wallace                           

4/20, 11 am                                      @Mansfield                             Madison HS

4/20, 1:30 pm                                  vs. Midview                              Madison HS

4/23, 4:30 pm                                  vs. Willoughby South              Classic Park

4/24, 4:30 pm                                  vs. St. Edward                         Classic Park

4/26, TBA                                          vs. TBD                                   Progressive Field

4/27, 10 am                                      @Strongsville                          Strongsville HS

4/27, 12:30 pm                                  vs. Avon                                Strongsville HS

5/1, 4:30 pm                                     Kenston                                Classic Park

5/4, 10 am                     Ohio Jesuit Tournament vs. Walsh Jesuit, Classic Park

5/4, 5 pm                                         OJT vs. St. Xavier                    Classic Park

5/5, TBA                                         OJT vs. St. John's Jesuit            Classic Park

5/8, 4:30 pm                                     @NDCL                                 Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin HS

5/9, 4:30 pm                                    @Cuyahoga Falls                   Water Works Park

5/10, 7 pm                                       @Lakewood                           Lakewood Stadium

5/11, 4 pm                                      St. Edward                             Baldwin Wallace

5/13, 5 pm                                     Tallmadge                              Baldwin Wallace

5/17, 5 pm                                    @Canton Central Catholic         Central Catholic HS

5/20, 4:30 pm                               @Brunswick                              Brunswick HS

5/15-5/16, TBA                            Sectional                                  TBD                             

5/22-5/23, TBA                            District                                    TBD                                   

5/30-5/31, TBA                            Regional                                  TBD                                    

6/7-6/8                                        State Semis & Finals                Huntington Park

Former Wildcat Baseball Star Derek Dietrich Traded from Tampa Bay to Miami
12/5/2012

By John Fanta '13  SSID

Former Wildcat infielder and Georgia Tech standout Derek Dietrich, who is in the class of 2007 at West 30th and Lorain, has been traded to the Miami Marlins. Dietrich, who was a phenomenal all-around player at Saint Ignatius High School, is on the move. He is in the minor league's as he will stay in the Sunshine State and will head to Miami.

Nick Longo commits to Miami of Ohio
12/3/2012

By Eddie Dwyer

Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor informed the corner on Sunday night that Wildcats junior pitcher/outfielder Nick Longo received a great offer and has made a verbal commitment to further his education and baseball career at Miami of Ohio.

"It's exciting, because Nick is only a junior and in my years of coaching this is the earliest we have had someone be offered and commit," said Coach Ganor, who will be entering his ninth season as the Wildcats' head baseball coach this spring.

Nick, who is among more than 50 players in Coach Ganor's program to have the opportunity to play at the next level, will follow Matt Rosinski and Alex Johnson, both stars from the state runner-up team of 2008, to Miami.

Congratulations from the corner to Nick, his family, Coach Ganor and the entire Saint Ignatius baseball program.

Wildcat Ace Tom Rolle bound for Ashland
11/14/2012

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

Congratulations go out to Saint Ignatius senior left-handed pitcher Tom Rolle, who commited to Ashland University on Wednesday.

Tom, who will be counted on to help anchor the Wildcats' pitching staff this spring, adds to an impressive list of nearly 50 players under head coach Brad Ganor who have or will have gone on to play baseball at the next level. Coach Ganor will be entering his ninth season as the Wildcats' skipper.

Again, congratulations to Tom and his family.     

Wildcats' Right Hander Kyle Pluta '13 Gives Oral Commitment to Tiffin University
11/7/2012

We’re talking baseball: Congratulations go out to Saint Ignatius senior pitcher Kyle Pluta, who, said Wildcats head baseball coach Brad Ganor, has committed to a scholarship at Tiffin.

Kyle is a mainstay on a pitching staff that helped lead the Wildcats to a 20-win season and a Division I District Championship in May.

Kyle’s commitment raises the number of players in Coach Ganor’s program who have been placed at the next level to nearly 20, something Saint Ignatius baseball can be very proud of.

Frank DeSico selected as a baseball captain for Fighting Irish
10/9/2012

Posted by Eddie Dwyer

Congratulations go out to former Saint Ignatius baseball and football standout Frank DeSico '09, who has been selected as one of the two captains for the University of Notre Dame's baseball team.

A senior second baseman, Frank joins centerfielder Charlie Markson as the Fighting Irish team captains for the upcoming 2013 season.

"I am particularly happy for Frank and Charlie," said Notre Dame head coach Mik Aoki in a Fighting Irish News Release. "They have both shown remarkable growth on and off the field since their arrivals at Notre Dame, and I hope that it is especially gratifying to each of them that their teammates appointed them to lead our team.

"We talk quite often in our program about being accountable to the highest level of conduct in the classroom, on the field and in the community - about representing yourself, your family, your faith, your University and your baseball program as best we can in every choice we encounter," Aoki continued. "Charlie and Frank have absolutely done that through their actions and words. I am thrilled that their peers recognized their leadership."

DeSico started all 56 games for Notre Dame at second base in 2012. He batted .308 with nine doubles and 24 RBI, and added 13 stolen bases, 24 walks and 41 runs scored. Frank has played in 157 career games and started 154 - both are the most of any current Irish player. He has started 154 of Notre Dame's last 156 games at second base.

Congratulations to Frank, his family and Coach Brad Ganor's baseball program at Saint Ignatius. And thanks from this old-timer to the Saint Ignatius Athletic Department for allowing me to have the sincere privilege to cover Frank in both baseball and football at the Jesuit Preparatory School in Ohio City.

Mike Horejsei '11 walks onto Ohio State baseball team
9/5/2012

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

WE'RE TALKING BASEBALL: Congratulations go out to former Wildcats Co-Captain Mike Horejsei '11, who walked onto the Ohio State University baseball team this past week as a left-handed pitcher.

"Mike's a great kid," said Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor. "A lot of hard work is paying off for him. He was at Ohio State's Mansfield campus last year, which is why he did not try out."

Although he did pitch for the Wildcats, Mike was best known at Saint Ignatius for his hitting and his solid all-around play at first base.

Rounding the corner, heading to football practice on Tuesday for some insight on the Cardinals and then on Wednesday it's off to one of my favorite stops during my nearly four decades at The Plain Dealer - Aldersyde Drive in Shaker Heights. Ah, the memories are so thick I have to wipe them away from my face.    

Dan Rowbottom bound for the Fighting Illini
8/4/2012


By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2012

The corner would like to express its congratulations to Wildcats senior second baseman Dan Rowbottom, who on Friday committed for further his education and baseball career at Illinois.

Dan, who also considered Cincinnati and Wright State, batted .313 this past spring with nine doubles, three triples and a home run, and combined with shortstop Mike Ruffing '12 in forming one of the strongest middle infields in the area. Dan's efforts helped Coach Brand Ganor's Wildcats to a Division I regional-semifinal appearance.

A two-year varsity mainstay and a Sun News All-Star selection for 2012, Dan will serve as one of Coach Ganor's captains for the 2013 season.

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

The Baseball Awards Go to...
6/6/2012

BASEBALL

Pitcher of the Year: Senior right-hander Matt Hoyer. Matt, who is bound for Mercyhurst on a football scholarship, helped lead Coach Brad Ganor’s Wildcats to a 20-10 record and a Division I regional semifinal appearance by going 7-1 on the mound with a 1.91 earned run average. With Matt showing the way, pitching coach T.J. Donovan ’94 watched his staff compile a 2.03 ERA and throw nine shutouts.

Defensive Player of the Year: Senior center fielder Tim McCoy. The best at the 8 position that this old-timer has had the privilege to cover, Tim displayed an exceptional and accurate throwing arm and the feet, body control and quick reactions that allowed him to run down several balls in the gaps and take away home runs with leaping catches at the fence. He also hit .361 in the Wildcats’ all-wood bats attack. Tim will be furthering his education and baseball career at the home of the NCAA back-to-back Division III national champion – Marietta College.

Offensive Player of the Year: Junior left-fielder Conor Hennessey. The Wildcats’ catalyst at the leadoff position, Conor batted .352 with six doubles and two triples. He also was a force on the base paths and played a solid 7 spot.

Captains Awards: The honors went to three of the best all-around leaders in the history of Wildcats baseball - senior shortstop Mike Ruffing, Tim McCoy and Matt Hoyer.

Coaches’ Cups: This prestigious distinction for 2012 couldn’t have gone to better young men, senior right fielder Dan Oaklief and senior first baseman/outfielder/designated hitter Stephen Alexander. As Coach Ganor put it so well, Dan and Stephen are players you want to emulate, athletes who exemplify everything you want in a Saint Ignatius player.

*Two of Saint Ignatius’ three captains for next year were selected by the team. They are gifted second baseman Dan Rowbottom ’13 and Conor Hennessey ‘13. Dan hit .313 this spring with nine doubles, three triples and a home run.

Wildcats Lose Lead to Westlake Late and Run Out of Late-Game Drama to the Demons
5/24/2012

 

SAINT IGNATIUS COMES BACK FROM A 3-0 DEFICIT TO TAKE A ONE-RUN LEAD, BUT WESTLAKE RESPONDS WITH A THREE-RUN TOP OF THE SEVENTH AND DEFEATS THE 'CATS, 6-4, IN THURSDAY'S REGIONAL SEMIFINAL BASEBALL GAME AT CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY.  
     
 

SAINT IGNATIUS WRAPS UP ITS MEMORABLE AND RESILIENT SEASON AT 20-10.

COACH BRAD GANOR SAYS GOODBYE TO A STRONG SENIOR CLASS, THE LEADERS ON A TEAM THAT WAS BUILT ON A SOLID FOUNDATION OF CAMARADERIE.

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT MAY 2012

Case Western Reserve University – After his team ended its season with a late momentum-swinging, 6-4 loss to Westlake in Thursday’s Division I regional semifinal at Nobby’s Ballpark, Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor truly put the entire 2012 season in its proper place.

“You have to be proud of them for the way they came back and fought,” Coach Ganor said after he watched his Wildcats rally from a 3-0 deficit and take a 4-3 lead by scoring two runs in both the fourth and six innings. “They are great kids and the seniors are going to walk across the stage in a week. The most important thing is that they are Ignatius Men. It’s going to sting for a while, but they’ll learn from this.

“That’s sports,” Coach Ganor continued. “Some of the best lessons are learned in sports, and they don’t always come with a win. They might not see it now, but they’ll learn from this experience. Twenty years from now they’ll be better men because of it.

“And they’ll be Saint Ignatius graduates, which is the most important thing.”

A team that displayed exceptional character and resolve during its 20 wins and 10 losses season, Saint Ignatius was a battler all spring.

This wasn’t a team laden with power or overpowering pitchers. But when they look back at the 2012 “Diamond Cats,” the baseball purists among Saint Ignatius’ faithful will recall the resilient bounce backs – lose two or three in a row and come back with four or five consecutive victories.

It was their grit against another who’s who schedule that enabled the third-seeded Wildcats to advance to the Sweet 16 among Ohio’s big-school programs. And, although they came up short to another strong-willed club – the Westlake Demons (22-6) and their 24-year head coach Jeff Short – the ‘Cats again displayed the ability to go toe-to-toe with adversity.

The Demons, who are determined to send their Hall of Fame coach into retirement with something he will always remember, held a 3-0 lead after 3 ½ innings. Westlake scored on a one-out RBI single in the top of the second by senior second baseman Andrew Dunn and a towering two-run home run over the fence in left field by junior first baseman Jamie Lackner in the top of the third.

Westlake senior pitcher Ben Neumann (6-0) had Saint Ignatius’ all-wood bats offense under control in the early going, before the Wildcats made it a one-run game in the bottom of the fourth.

The Wildcats scored their first two runs on an error, a base hit to center field by gifted junior second baseman Dan Rowbottom, a bunt by senior center fielder and tri-captain Tim McCoy that Tim was able to beat out, a one-out sharp grounder off the bat of junior third baseman Tyler Finkler that the Demons were unable to handle and a sacrifice fly by senior catcher Ralph Lucarelli.

With senior right-hander Scott Chase doing another solid job out of the bullpen and the Wildcats’ defense again flashing the leather, Saint Ignatius took its one-run lead in what was a wild bottom of the sixth.

Rowbottom led off with a line-drive double to right field off a 0-2 pitch and McCoy battled from behind in the count to draw a walk. Senior designated hitter Stephen Alexander then laid down a perfect bunt to the left side and the fireworks started.

The throw to first base to Dunn, who was covering on the play, was a bit up the line and he and Alexander collided. The ball jarred loose and bounced far enough away that Rowbottom and McCoy were able to score the tying and go-ahead runs, and Alexander advanced all the way to third base.

However, just when the emotion appeared to be in Saint Ignatius’ favor, that fickle Mr. Momentum took a seat in the Demons’ dugout.

In what was the turning point of the game, Alexander, who was standing on third base with no outs, never crossed home plate as Westlake came up with a strikeout and two exceptional defensive plays by the left side of its infield that took away base hits.

Riding the momentum of that damage control , the Demons responded with their three-run top of the seventh and, after Wildcats senior shortstop and tri-captain Mike Ruffing led off the bottom of the seventh with a base hit, sealed a trip to Friday’s round of elite eight by getting a fly out to right field and a double play.

The key hits in the top of the seventh for Westlake were an RBI double by junior center fielder Danny Strodtbeck that knotted the score at 4 and a two-out, run-scoring single by senior designated hitter Jonathan Brick that provided an insurance run.

“I hope that Westlake makes a run all the way and keeps it going for Jeff (Coach Short),” Coach Ganor said. “He’s a class guy and sending him out on top would be a fitting end to a fantastic career.”

Although their season didn’t end as they had hoped, the 2012 Wildcats will always have their own unique spot in the hearts and minds of those fortunate enough to be associated with them.

“The group we had this year was really special,” said McCoy, as he was packing his Saint Ignatius baseball gear for the final time. “We believed, and a lot of other people were starting to believe, that we had the opportunity to make a run. It’s sad that it had to end like this, but we had a great season and we have great memories.

“The chemistry was tremendous and we went out there and created things,” McCoy continued. “We left it all on the field.”

 

 

VIDEO: 2012 Varsity Baseball Regional Semi-Finals
5/23/2012

Good Pitching and Defense Looks to Keep the Wildcats Going as they Take on Westlake in the Regional Semifnals
5/22/2012
A PRE-HOLIDAY WEEK AND WEEKEND AWAITS THE WILDCATS, AS REGIONAL PLAY IS ALREADY UPON US.  
     
5/21/2012

TWO OF THE WEST SIDE’S BEST WILL TAKE THEIR GAMES TO CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY, AS SAINT IGNATIUS AND WESTLAKE MEET IN A DIVISION I REGIONAL SEMIFINAL BASEBALL GAME ON THURSDAY. SEE THE CORNER’S PREVIEW BELOW.

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT MAY 2012

Whether it is Little league, high school, the long bus trips in the minors or one of the grand cathedrals where fans gather to root on and even worship their major-league idols, hope always springs eternal in the great game of baseball.

At Saint Ignatius and Westlake high schools, that hope has become more of an expectation.

The baseball faithful on West 30th and Lorain Avenue in Cleveland and Hilliard Boulevard in Westlake anticipate every May that their teams will make a strong bid in the OHSAA postseason tournament.

Westlake (22-6), under the direction of Hall of Fame head coach Jeff Short, has won well over 300 games, has advanced to district play 12 times in the past 16 seasons, has 16 winning seasons in the past 18 years and will be making its third regional appearance since 1996 when it faces Saint Ignatius in a Division I semifinal on Thursday at Case Western Reserve University. The first pitch from Nobby’s Ballpark on the campus of CWRU will be 5 p.m.

Under the guidance of head coach Brad Ganor, the Wildcats are 20-9 this spring and have compiled a record of 170-58 during Coach Ganor’s eight seasons at the helm. Saint Ignatius has made 10 state final-four appearances, including a school record three in a row under Coach Ganor (2007-08-09). Brad was an assistant coach on the Wildcats’ 2002 state-championship team. The ‘Cats were also state runners-up in 2000 and 2008.

Although Saint Ignatius defeated the Demons, 10-1, in a 2010 season opener under the lights at Westlake, Coach Short’s impressive resume includes a regional-semifinal triumph over the ‘Cats in 1996. A man this corner had theprivilege to cover and report on during my nearly four decades at The Plain Dealer, and learned a great deal from, Jeff is retiring at the end of this season.

Both the Demons and the Wildcats advanced to Thursday’s regional semifinal in dramatic fashion.

In eliminating the state’s fifth-ranked Avon Eagles, 1-0, in the Lorain district final, 18th-ranked Westlake rode the four-hit pitching of right-hander Kevin Neumann and Neumann’s RBI single in the top of the first inning to the “upset.” Neumann pitched out of a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the first and, with runners on the corners, ended the game with his eighth strikeout. Demons third baseman Andy Haders had three hits and Neumann was the recipient of an outstanding defensive play by second baseman Andrew Dunn in the bottom of the seventh. Not bad for a club that stood 4-4 at one point this season.

Saint Ignatius, which will take a six-game winning streak into regional play, turned back a gritty North Royalton team, 3-2, in the Strongsville district championship game.

In what go down as two of the most memorable plays in the Wildcats’ rich athletic history, senior center fielder and tri-captain Tim McCoy and senior right fielder Dan Oaklief threw runners out at the plate in the bottom of the seventh. Senior catcher Ralph Lucarelli did a superb job of catching the throws, holding his position at the dish and applying the tags.

A double by gifted junior second baseman Dan Rowbottom, an RBi sacrifice fly by McCoy, a run-scoring single by Oaklief and a suicide-squeeze bunt by senior shortstop and tri-captain Mike Ruffing fueled Saint Ignatius’ offense.  

SIBN: It seems like just yesterday that John Fanta ’13 was breaking in on the baseball scene as one of Saint Ignatius’ Student Broadcasters for the 2010 season opener between the ‘Cats and the Demons at Westlake.  Two years later, “I’ll Have Another” Fanta, who boldly predicts his horse will gallop to the Triple Crown at Belmont, will be the lead voice for the SIBN’s live broadcast of Thursday’s regional semifinal from CWRU. 

ANOTHER WILD ONE: The winner of the Saint Ignatius-Westlake game returns to Case Western Reserve on Friday for the 5 p.m. regional championship game and the right to advance to the state final four. Friday’s opponent will be either Ohio’s sixth-ranked Ashland Arrows (22-4) or the Eagles from Oregon Clay (12-14). Ashland and Clay will play their Thursday semifinal at Bowling Green State University.

In adding their name to last week’s storied comebacks, the Ashland Arrows, trailing 8-1 in the fifth inning, scored 10 unanswered runs and came away with an 11-8 district-final victory over the Maumee Panthers (18-10). Maumee opened the door for the comeback by issuing 12 walks and three hit batsmen.

ROUNDING THE CORNER AND HEADING HOME.

Saint Ignatius Gets One of the Most Dramatic Wins in the Program's History in the District Final
5/19/2012
TIM MCCOY, DAN OAKLIEF AND RALPH LUCARELLI COMBINE ON TWO OF THE GREATEST PLAYS IN SAINT IGNATIUS' ATHLETIC HISTORY, AS THE WILDCATS TURN BACK NORTH ROYALTON, 3-2, IN A DIVISION I DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AT STRONGSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL.  
     
5/17/2012

SAINT IGNATIUS, WITH MCOY AND OAKLIEF THROWING OUT RUNNERS AT THE PLATE IN THE BOTTOM OF THE SEVENTH INNING, WINS ITS FIRST DISTRICT BASEBALL TITLE SINCE 2009 AND ADVANCES TO PLAY WESTLAKE IN NEXT THURSDAY'S REGIONAL SEMIFINAL AT CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY.

ALONG WITH THE REMARKABLE DEFENSIVE GEMS, THE 'CATS GET FIVE GUTSY INNINGS FROM JUNIOR LEFT-HANDER TOM ROLLE AND CLUTCH MOMENTS AT THE PLATE FROM DAN ROWBOTTOM, MCCOY, OAKLIEF, MIKE RUFFING, CONOR HENNESSEY, STEPHEN ALEXANDER AND LUCARELLI.

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT MAY 2012

Strongsville, Ohio – The Saint Ignatius Wildcats have had many legendary moments during their rich and championship-laden athletic history.

Thursday evening at Strongsville High School, senior outfielders Tim McCoy and Dan Oaklief and senior catcher Ralph Lucarelli, players who typify the grittiness that is Saint Ignatius baseball, helped Coach Brad Ganor’s program take its place among those storied plays in Wildcats lore.

Saint Ignatius, with McCoy and Oaklief firing on-the-money throws to home plate in the bottom of the seventh inning and Lucarelli doing a great job of catching the hoppers and, in the same reaction, protecting the plate and applying the tags, turned back a strong-willed and talented team from North Royalton, 3-2, in a Division I District Championship Game.

With North Royalton runners on first and second and no outs, McCoy, the best center fielder this old-timer has ever reported on in 40-plus years on Ohio’s high school sports scene, charged a base hit off the bat of the Bears’ Mark Hren and let loose with a throw to Lucarelli that accounted for the first out.

Another base hit followed, this time in the path of Oaklief in right field. In what was a very similar charge, field and throw reaction, Dan unleashed his powerful arm and Lucarelli did a superb job of reaching for the ball and, in a split second, applying the tag.

The Wildcats (20-9) weren’t out of the woods yet, as the Bears (19-9), now with runners on first and third and two down, were growling for at least a shot at extra innings.

It wasn’t to be, as senior right-hander Scott Chase got the next batter to line the ball right into the glove of junior third baseman Tyler Finkler. The celebration was on, as Finkler hugged that final out like it was a million dollars.

“After that first throw I had at third, my arm just felt so good today,” said McCoy, who also threw out a runner at third base after hauling in a fly ball in the bottom of third. Tim was successful on that throw despite the fact the runner tagged up and left second base early.

“I charged it pretty well and had a good jump on the ball,” McCoy continued, as he described his memorable throw in the bottom of the seventh. “I knew it was going to get there and I just let it loose. It happens so fast, you really aren’t thinking, ‘Oh my God, this could be the last play.’”

Oaklief, who emphasized that he was fired up by McCoy’s throw, said he, too, knew he had the opportunity to throw the runner out the split second he fielded the ball.

“I just watched Tim throw the ball in, so I felt it was my time to nail him,” Oaklief said. “And thank God I got him. That was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life.”

The entire Wildcats baseball program was carrying a feeling of jubilation, as the memories of a two-year regional drought were erased.

With the victory, Coach Ganor’s team advanced to next Thursday’s regional semifinal against the Westlake Demons (22-6) at Nobby’s Ballpark on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. The first pitch will be 5 p.m.

Under the direction of Hall of Fame head coach Jeff Short, the Demons defeated the Wildcats in the 1996 regional semifinals at The Palace on the campus of Euclid High School. Coach Short has announced he will be retiring at the end of this season.

While the dramatic seventh-inning throws to the plate will stand the test of time, Saint Ignatius also had other moments to cherish against the Bears.

There was the resilient three-hit, five-inning effort from junior southpaw Tom Rolle, who started the game and picked up the victory, the over-powering strikeout by senior left-hander Zak Shockley to end the bottom of the sixth with the potential tying run on third and an assortment of clutch hits that led to the Wildcats’ three runs.

Trailing, 1-0, Saint Ignatius knotted the score in the top of the third on a hit batsman, a double to deep right-center field by gifted junior second baseman Dan Rowbottom and a run-scoring sacrifice fly by McCoy.

The ‘Cats took a 2-1 lead in their half of the fourth by combining a line-drive single to left-center by senior shortstop and tri-captain Mike Ruffing off an 0-2 pitch, a two-out single into right field by junior left fielder Conor Hennessey and an RBI single to center field by the whatever-it-takes Oaklief.

Saint Ignatius’ third and what turned out to be a much-needed run resulted from a leadoff single by senior designated hitter Stephen Alexander to start the top of the fifth, a sacrifice bunt by Finkler, a base hit by Lucarelli and a suicide-squeeze bunt off Ruffing’s reliable wood bat.

“The way it ended today was probably the best feeling I’ve had in a long time,” said Ruffing of the frustration of losing two consecutive district-final games (2010 and 2011). “That’s thanks to these two here (McCoy and Oaklief) and the effort by the whole team, giving 100 percent and doing whatever they could.”

McCoy, who joins Ruffing and standout senior right-hander Matt Hoyer as Coach Ganor’s captains, said it “means the world” to be advancing to the Sweet 16 of Ohio’s Division I baseball.

“The last two years were really disappointing,” McCoy said. “We came out with a different mentality this year. We haven’t proved anything and nobody is afraid of playing us anymore. We’re trying to get that back. Obviously, this is a great feeling (a district championship). But it is only step one.”

 

 

 

Hoyer is Excellent in Five Innings of Work, and Chase Comes on to Close the Door in a Close One with Brecksville in the District Semifinals
5/16/2012
MATT HOYER IS OUTSTANDING AGAIN, AS THE WILDCATS DEFEAT BRECKSVILLE-BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, 3-1, IN A DIVISION I DISTRICT SEMIFINAL AT STRONGSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL. DAN OAKLIEF, TIM MCCOY AND STEPHEN ALEXANDER HELP IGNITE THE OFFENSE.  
     
5/16/2012

MATT IMPROVES TO 7-1 ON THE SEASON IN LEADING SAINT IGNATIUS INTO THURSDAY'S DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AGAINST NORTH ROYALTON. THE FIRST PITCH FROM STRONGSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL WILL BE 4:30 P.M. JUNIOR LEFT-HANDER TOM ROLLE WILL GET THE STARTING ASSIGNMENT FROM HEAD COACH BRAD GANOR.

SCOTT CHASE SLAMS THE DOOR WITH TWO SCORELESS INNINGS OUT OF THE BULLPEN AND THE DEFENSE IS SOLID ALL AROUND

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT MAY 2012

Strongsville, Ohio – Saint Ignatius’ gritty and talented senior right fielder Dan Oaklief said his team's inner drive and motivation started with the first day in the weight room on Oct. 2, 2011.

Now, more than seven months later, the 2012 Wildcats varsity baseball team is one victory away from erasing the frustration that has lingered for two seasons.

“We knew we didn’t want to go out like we did the last two years,” said Oaklief, who helped get Saint Ignatius’ offense on track during Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over second-seeded Brecksville-Broadview Heights in the Strongsville Division I District Semifinals. “That was our motivation, to finish games and finish the season correctly.”

After being eliminated by Olmsted Falls and Midpark in their past two district-final appearances, Coach Brad Ganor’s third-seeded Wildcats (19-9) will be seeking their first trip to the regionals since 2009 when they face another extremely motivated team – the North Royalton Bears (20-8) – in Thursday’s 4:30 District Championship Game at Strongsville High School.

The Bears, seeded fourth, stunned the top-seeded Strongsville Mustangs, 2-0, in Wednesday’s other semifinal at Strongsville. Ranked seventh in the final coaches’ state poll for 2012, the Mustangs couldn’t take advantage after having runners on first and second and no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Saint Ignatius, which has played another who’s who schedule this spring, finished strong on Wednesday after Brecksville (19-8-1) took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Junior center fielder Joe Houk led off with a base hit, advanced to second on an error and scored on a double off the bat of senior outfielder Parker Galbreath.

Wildcats senior right-hander and tri-captain Matt Hoyer, who has been nothing less than outstanding this season, settled in and got the next three batters on a fly out to Oaklief in right field, a 4-3 ground out and a pop up to junior Mike LaManna at first base.

That was it for the Bees’ offense on the day, as Hoyer, en route to improving to 7-1 on the year, made his pitches and let his defense do the rest through five complete innings. Senior right-hander Scott Chase, who has been Mr. Reliable as a starter and a reliever, sealed the deal by delivering two solid innings out of the bullpen for veteran pitching coach T. J. Donovan ’94.

As for Saint Ignatius’ offense, a bit of that frustration raised its ugly head in the early going, when the ‘Cats left the bases loaded in both the first and second innings and couldn’t get a runner home from third in the top of the third.

“We were getting on base, but we weren’t cashing in,” Oaklief said. “But we were getting on the fastball, sat on it and started to hit in clutch situations.”

Oaklief, who leaves everything he has on the field, came up with Saint Ignatius’ first clutch hit in the top of the fourth – a one-out RBI single to left field that knotted the score at 1. Senior shortstop and tri-captain Mike Ruffing and LaManna were both hit by a pitch before Oaklief’s run producer.

With two outs in the fourth, Wildcats senior tri-captain and center fielder Tim McCoy slapped an RBI single the opposite way down the left-field line and the ‘Cats were in business at 2-1.

A little insurance always helps, and senior designated hitter Stephen Alexander provided that security after McCoy walked with two outs and nobody on in the top of the sixth. Stephen came up with his second solid base hit, allowing McCoy to advance to third. An errant relay throw by the Bees sent McCoy home with the game’s third and final run.

“I told Coach Bieneman (assistant coach Josh Bieneman) after my first at-bat (a strikeout) that nobody was going to beat me the rest of the day,” said Alexander, who plays with an endless passion for the game.

Saint Ignatius, which went 2-0 against Brecksville this season, turned in some defensive gems on Wednesday, with McCoy, senior catcher Ralph Lucarelli, junior third baseman Tyler Finkler and the vacuums in the middle – Ruffing and junior second baseman Dan Rowbottom – all flashing leather, or in Lucarelli’s case, sacrificing the body.

McCoy, who handles the 8 position as well as anyone this old-timer has ever seen on the high school level, completed a 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth by displaying excellent footwork on a high drive to center and then reacting to a ball that had potential double written on it by outracing Mr. Rawlings in left center and, in one motion, reaching out and making a one-handed grab. It was reminiscent of some of the catches Tim made in the fall as a standout wide receiver for the Wildcats’ record 11th Division I state-champion football team.

SIBN DOING DOUBLE DUTY: After broadcasting the district final between Saint Ignatius and North Royalton on Thursday, the Wildcats’ Student Broadcasting Network will provide its viewers with live coverage of Senior Awards Night from the Breen Center for the Performing Arts. The senior awards get under way at 7 p.m. Congratulations to all of the award winners from the Class of 2012.

Tuesday's Game with Gilmour Cancelled Due to a Big Week in the Playoffs Beginning with the District Semis with Brecksville Wednesday
5/14/2012
TUESDAY'S SAINT IGNATIUS-GILMOUR REGULAR SEASON GAME IS CANCELLED. THE FOCUS IS NOW, IF IT WASN'T ALREADY, ON WEDNESDAY'S MATCHUP WITH BRECKSVILLE-BROADVIEW HEIGHTS IN THE TALENT-RICH STRONGSVILLE DISTRICT.  
     
5/14/2012

BY EDDIE DWYER

Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor informed the corner this afternoon that Tuesday's regular-season finale between the Wildcats and the Lancers from Gilmour Academy has been cancelled.

The 'Cats (18-9) will now tune up for Wednesday's Division I District Semifinal game against the talented Brecksville-Broadview Heights Bees (19-7-1) by scrimmaging from within the program during practice at Baldwin-Wallace College on Tuesday.

Wednesday's 4:30 matchup with Brecksville is part of what is easily one of the strongest districts in the entire state.

Top-seeded Strongsville (20-3), which has the luxury of playing at home, will face fourth-seeded North Royalton (19-8) in Wednesday's first game at 2 p.m. Brecksville and Saint Ignatius are seeded second and third, respectively. The winners return to Strongsville High School on Thursday for the 4:30 district championship game and the right to advance to the regional at Case Western Reserve University.

The Wildcats and the Bees met on April 21st as part of the Cleveland Indians Charities High School Hardball Classic in Progressive Field. Saint Ignatius, on the strength of a triple to the gap in deep right-center field by gifted junior second baseman Dan Rowbottom and the ensuing game-winning single to center field by senior centerfielder and tri-captain Tim McCoy, won it in the bottom of the seventh, 1-0. Rowbottom is a Brecksville-Broadview Heights resident.

Both teams went deep into their pitching staffs that brisk Saturday afternoon, with Scott Chase, Nick Fabian, Kyle Pluta, Matt Lynch and Zak Shockley combining on a two-hitter and the Bees' arms limiting the 'Cats to four hits.

Strongsville, under the direction of Saint Ignatius graduate and former Wildcats baseball player Josh Sorge, defeated the Wildcats, 2-0, on April 20 at All-Pro Freight Stadium in Avon. The story of that game was Kyle Toma, one of the leaders of Coach Sorge's deep and savvy pitching staff. A deep and savvy pitching staff. Sound familiar? If it doesn't, just check out the corner's stories below.

Toma set the tempo that Friday afternoon after Saint Ignatius loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first inning. Keeping his composure, Toma recorded two consecutive strikeouts and a ground out.

Wildcats standout junior left fielder Conor Hennessey, who grew up playing baseball with many of Strongsville's players, had three hits against the Mustangs. Among those complementing Toma on what several coaches have described as the best staff in the area, or certainly the deepest, are Dan Kasian, Austin Pritchard, Connor Ryan, Cade Coulter and Forrest Perron. Coach Sorge's team was ranked seventh among Division I schools in the final state coaches' poll for 2012.    

Athough Saint Ignatius can not concern itself with Strongsville or North Royalton right now, as a very solid club from Brecksville awaits the 'Cats, we will also give you a brief look at North Royalton.

The Bears, who had some memorable matchups with the Wildcats at the old Cuyahoga Community College-West sectional/district, have two very sturdy arms in starter Jake Lark and starter/reliver Alex Albright. North Royalton is coached by veteran Jim Thamann, who emphasized that it's all hands on deck as far as his pitching staff goes.

Providing some clutch hits for a very capable North Royalton offense are Adam Vasil, Mike Hudec, Mark Wren and Brandon Garnett.

THE WEB WAVES: THE SAINT IGNATIUS STUDENT BROADCASTING NETWORK WILL BRING YOU LIVE COVERAGE OF WEDNESDAY'S SAINT IGNATIUS-BRECKSVILLE DISTRICT SEMIFINAL BASEBALL GAME AND WILL ALSO BROADCAST THURSDAY'S DISTRICT FINAL IF THE WILDCATS ADVANCE. THE ALL-JUNIOR CREW OF JOHN FANTA, GREG ZITON AND CONNOR MARTENS WILL HAVE THE CALL.

Another Great Pitching Performance by 6 Different Wildcats Complete the Season Sweep of the Eagles
5/12/2012
ANOTHER MASTERFUL PERFORMANCE BY THE VARSITY PITCHING STAFF AND A COMEBACK FOR THE AGES BY THE JUNIOR VARSITY TEAM HIGHLIGHT SAINT IGNATIUS' ALL-LEVELS SWEEP OVER ST. EDWARD AT BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE ON SATURDAY.  
     
5/12/2012

SIX PITCHERS COMBINE ON A ONE-HITTER IN THE WILDCATS' 4-0 TRIUMPH OVER THE EAGLES ON THE VARSITY LEVEL, THE JUNIOR VARSITY COMPLETES ITS OUTSTANDING 21-2 SEASON BY RALLYING FROM AN 8-0 DEFICIT IN THE FIFTH INNING AND GOING ON TO DEFEAT ST. EDWARD'S JAYVEES, 9-8, IN EIGHT INNINGS AND THE FRESHMAN 'CATS GET THE DAY STARTED BY TURNING BACK THE EAGLES, 8-7, AND FINISHING THEIR SPRING AT 16-5.

COACH BRAD GANOR'S VARSITY TEAM WILL TAKE AN 18-9 RECORD INTO TUESDAY'S FINAL REGULAR SEASON GAME AGAINST GILMOUR ACADEMY AT B-W AND ON WEDNESDAY IT'S A DIVISION I DISTRICT-SEMIFINAL MATCHUP WITH THE TALENTED BRECKSVILLE-BROADVIEW HEIGHTS BEES AT STRONGSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL. THE FIRST PITCH FOR BOTH OF THOSE GAMES IS 4:30 P.M.

 

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT MAY 2012

Berea, Ohio – Saint Ignatius’ coaches will never get tired of talking about the Wildcats’ pitching staff.

Especially if those talented arms continue to throw like they have the past four days.

“I don’t know in how many years we’ve ever thrown nine shutouts,” said Coach Ganor after junior left-hander Tom Rolle, senior southpaw Zak Shockley, junior right-hander Kyle Pluta, sophomore left-hander Nick Margevicius, senior right-hander Scott Chase and junior right-hander Matt Lynch combined to throw a one-hitter in Saturday’s 4-0 victory over St. Edward at Baldwin-Wallace College. It was the Wildcats’ ninth shutout in 27 games this spring and the fourth consecutive goose egg by the staff this week, including back-to-back zeroes in sectional competition. 

“That’s good stuff,” Coach Ganor continued. “I’m so proud of them. They have persevered all season. We’ll see what happens next week (at the talent-rich Strongsville District). We have to go play the games, but we’re playing good baseball. And all I can ask of these guys is that come this time of the year we’re playing our best baseball.”

Saint Ignatius (18-9), which is seeded third behind No. 1 Strongsville and No. 2 Brecksville at the Strongsville District, didn’t quite have the offensive firepower on Saturday that it carried with it most of the week (28 runs total in the three previous games).

However, the three runs the Wildcats scored in the first inning against a young St. Edward pitching staff were more than enough support for the live arms Coach Ganor and Pitching Coach T. J. Donovan ‘94 threw at the Eagles.

After Rolle set down St. Edward in order in the top of the first on two groundouts and a strikeout, gritty senior right fielder Dan Oaklief reached on a one-out infield hit and came around to score on a line-drive RBI double to the gap in left-center field by gifted junior second baseman Dan Rowbottom.

Rowbottom advanced to third on an ill-advised throw to home plate and senior center fielder and tri-captain Tim McCoy followed with a run-scoring single.  Senior third baseman Tim Hawkins Hodgson closed out the three-run bottom of the first with a two-out RBI single to right field.

With Shockley, Margevicius (three strikeouts in two innings), Pluta (2 Ks in one inning), Chase (2 Ks in one inning) and Lynch (1 K in one inning) keeping St. Edward’s offense stymied, Saint Ignatius closed out the scoring in the bottom of the sixth.

With one out, senior shortstop and tri-captain Mike Ruffing produced a hustle double. A walk and an error loaded the bases and Ruffing scored the ‘Cats’ fourth run on a perfect suicide squeeze by the versatile Oaklief. Oaklief added a diving catch in right field for the second out in the top of the seventh to his Saturday repertoire.

When Lynch struck out the first batter in the top of the seventh, it gave Saint Ignatius’ staff 40 strikeouts in four games this week and completed a 3-0 varsity record against the Eagles this season. St. Edward was guided on Saturday by interim head coach Pete Ducic, a former Cathedral Latin School baseball standout, a baseball player for the Ohio State Buckeyes and a veteran of Ohio’s sandlots. 

“LET’S HAVE A GREAT FINISH TO A GREAT SEASON”:  Those were the words Saint Ignatius head junior varsity coach Ken Tippy emphasized to his players on Saturday before the JV ‘Cats came storming back from a deficit few thought they could overcome.

But for the magical Class of 2014, it only matters what they think.

Trailing St. Edward’s junior varsity, 8-0, with one out and nobody on in the bottom of the fifth, the Wildcats came clawing back to score seven runs in the fifth.

Joe Khoury drew a walk, Austin Bedinghaus followed with a line-drive single to left-center and Nick Fabian and Quillan Austria delivered RBI singles. Shane Skuhrovec, who was outstanding in relief over the final three innings (four strikeouts), beat out a slow roller that loaded the bases and standout catcher Pat Gulick cut the Eagles’ lead in half by slapping a two-run single through the right side.

After a walk to Bennett Kinzel loaded the bases again, Kyle Daugenti, a standout running back on Coach Ryan Franzinger’s undefeated JV football team, laced a two-out, three-run triple to deep center field and St. Edward was hanging on to a one-run lead entering the sixth inning.

It stayed that way until the bottom of the seventh, when an infield hit by Gulick, a one-out wild pitch and an RBI double by David Bodziony knotted the score at 8.

With two outs and runners on first and second in the top of the eighth, Austria knocked down a sharp ground ball to the right side, picked it up and fired a strike to the plate to prevent St. Edward from taking the lead again. Gulick did a great job of both blocking the plate and applying the tag.

That play set the stage for the finishing touches of the remarkable comeback.

After an error, a sacrifice bunt by Fabian and an intentional walk to Austria, Skuhrovec was hit by a pitch and the bases were loaded with one out in the bottom of the eighth. Gulick wasted little time in capping off his outstanding day, as he drove the ball to deep center field for the game-winning sacrifice fly.

Yes, a great finish to a great 21-2 season.

“I’m very proud of the JV and freshman teams,” said Coach Ganor of a junior varsity coaching staff that includes Jim Johnson and Jim Anter ’06, and the freshman staff of Matt Kimmick and Jim Murphy ‘99, who led the promising ninth graders to a 16-5 record.

“A triple-header sweep of our arch rival is really nice,” Coach Ganor continued.  “The JV team coming back and finding a way to win, now that is good baseball. It makes me very proud as a coach at Saint Ignatius to have such great talent and great kids.”    

 

Hennessey Powers the Offense Through the Lakewood Rangers on Friday Night and the JV Team Improves to 20-2
5/11/2012

 

   
 
CONOR HENNESSEY HELPS FUEL A PRODUCTIVE OFFENSE AND THE WILDCATS' PITCHING STAFF RECORDS ITS THIRD SHUTOUT IN AS MANY NIGHTS AND ITS EIGHTH OVERALL ON THE SEASON. NICK LONGO RACKS UP EIGHT OF THE STAFF'S 15 Ks IN A 12-0 TRIUMPH OVER LAKEWOOD.  
     
5/11/2012

SAINT IGNATIUS TUNES UP FOR SATURDAY'S THIRD AND FINAL 2012 ENCOUNTER WITH ST. EDWARD BY COMING UP WITH A MOMENTUM-SHIFTING THREE-RUN FOURTH INNING AND A LEAVE-NO-DOUBT SEVEN-RUN SEVENTH.

A LENGTHY JUNIOR VARSITY GAME AND SPECIAL PRE-GAME CEREMONIES IN LAKEWOOD STADIUM DELAY THE START OF FRIDAY NIGHT'S VARSITY GAME FOR 30-PLUS MINUTES, BUT IT WAS WELL WORTH THE WAIT FOR THE WILDCATS' FAITHFUL AS STARTER TIM MCCOY (5 Ks) AND KYLE PLUTA (2 Ks) COMBINE WITH LONGO ON THE SHUTOUT.

SAINT IGNATIUS' JAYVEES IMPROVE TO 20-2 WITH AN 11-4 VICTORY OVER THE RANGERS.

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT MAY 2012

Lakewood, Ohio – No one needs to remind Saint Ignatius’ varsity baseball team that next week is looked upon as the defining point of the season – the talent-rich Division I district tournament at Strongsville High School.

No argument here.

But while Wednesday’s district-semifinal matchup with the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Bees now becomes the “biggest” game of the year, you can’t fault the Wildcats for enjoying, if just for a short time, what they have accomplished the past three nights.

After rolling to sectional victories over Maple Heights and Normandy on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, Coach Brad Ganor’s Wildcats hit, ran and pitched their way to a 12-0 victory over Lakewood in what was labeled by the Rangers’ baseball boosters as “Friday Night Under The Lights”.

On what was a perfect night weather-wise, Friday’s matchup on Bunts and Madison attracted an enthusiastic and standing-room crowd to legendary Lakewood Stadium. And what the baseball purists took in was another dominant performance by Saint Ignatius’ pitching staff.

The Wildcats pitchers, whose skills are honed by veteran pitching coach T.J. Donovan ‘94, recorded their third consecutive shutout in as many nights and their eighth of the spring.

Senior left-hander and tri-captain Tim McCoy started Friday’s goose egg by striking out five batters in the three complete innings he worked. Tim pitched out of a second-and-third and one-out situation in the bottom of the third by recording his fifth strikeout and getting the next batter to fly out. Those big outs came against Lakewood's third hole and cleanup hitters.         

Junior right-hander Kyle Pluta took the mound in the bottom of the fourth and promptly threw a perfect 1-2-3 inning that included two Ks.

Coach Ganor then put the ball in the hands of sophomore southpaw Nick Longo, a young man with tremendous potential.

In what was an effort that had the Wildcats’ coaches grinning from ear to ear and the Saint Ignatius dugout buzzing, Longo was nothing less than dominant over the final three innings.

Firing the ball in what appeared to be a smooth and confident rhythm, Longo fanned eight of the 12 batters he faced. He rang up three strikeouts in both the fifth and sixth innings, and closed the show by retiring the Rangers in order in the bottom of the seventh on two Ks and a routine ground out.

“Nick Longo just did a great job, phenomenal,” said Coach Ganor, whose team will take a 17-9 record into today’s (Saturday) regular season game against rival St. Edward at Baldwin-Wallace College. The first pitch is 4 p.m., and the varsity matchup will be preceded by freshman (10 a.m.) and junior varsity (1 p.m.) games between the Wildcats and the Eagles.

Along with the outstanding pitching by Longo and Company, the Wildcats got some big hits from an offense that got jump-started by standout junior outfielder and leadoff hitter Conor Hennessey.

Hennessey started the game by lining a double down the left-field line. Conor then advanced to third on another perfect sacrifice bunt by senior right fielder Dan Oaklief and scored on a sacrifice fly to left-center off the bat of gifted junior second baseman Dan Rowbottom.

It stayed a 1-0 game until the top of the fourth, when Hennessey carried out his coach’s orders to perfection.

“I talked to Conor when he was going up to bat that inning,” said Coach Ganor of the top of the fourth.  “I said let’s get the big two-out, guys on base hit  and let’s break this game open.  And he did it. He’s been doing a great job all year.”

After junior third baseman Tyler Finkler reached first base on a passed ball off a swinging third strike, senior catcher Andrew Piscioneri was hit by a pitch and senior shortstop and tri-captain Mike Ruffing singled, the ‘Cats had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the fourth. Longo, who started the game in left field, drew a walk to make the score 2-0 and Hennessey delivered what appeared to take some of the fire out of the Rangers – a two-run single to left.

Saint Ignatius had a 4-0 lead, but, with the way the Wildcats were pitching, it was a deficit for Lakewood that probably seemed much larger.

After Oaklief’s two-out RBI single in the top of the sixth pushed Saint Ignatius’ advantage to 5-0, what was a competitive game became a night Lakewood (14-12) would just as soon forget.

In a hit-parade seventh inning, the Wildcats scored seven times.

McCoy started the barrage with a double to right-center and the other major blows were a run-scoring, line-drive single to center by Ruffing, another RBI single by Oaklief and a run-producing high bouncer through the right side by Rowbottom.

Lakewood (14-12), under the direction of former Rangers standout all-around athlete Mike Ribar, is definitely a much better team than the final score indicated.

A TOUCH OF CLASS: During Friday night’s opening ceremonies , which included a tribute to the Rangers’ seniors and their parents, and the youth baseball programs from Lakewood, the Rangers’ varsity baseball team, in conjunction with the school’s athletic boosters, also acknowledged Saint Ignatius’ senior varsity players.

SAINT IGNATIUS 11, LAKEWOOD 4:  The corner got his first up-close look at Saint Ignatius’ junior-varsity team on Friday and I can see why head coach Ken Tippy and assistant coaches Jim Anter ’06 and Jim Johnson have a tremendous rapport with this team. But then nothing the talented class of 2014 does surprises this old-timer.

In improving to 20-2, the JV Wildcats got a workman-like performance on the mound from right-hander Bennett Kinzel. Bennett scattered four hits and threw 93 pitches in five-plus innings of work. Thomas Krainz did a nice job in relief, including a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh.

At the plate, the Wildcats took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on a base hit through the left side by catcher Pat Gulick. The run-producing at-bats in Saint Ignatius’ two-run second inning were provided by center fielder Nick Fabian and second baseman Quillan Austria, and helping set the table for Fabian and Austria were singles by Austin Bedinghaus and Ryan Cooper.

Coach Tippy’s team broke the game open with a six-run fourth inning that was fueled by a leadoff single by Bedinghaus an RBI double by Fabian.

The JV team will look to go 2-0 against St. Edward this season when they face the Eagles on the battle-tested field at Baldwin-Wallace College today. The first pitch is slated for 1 p.m.

  

Rowbottom Hits the First Bomb of the Season for the Wildcats, as they Advance with Great Pitching to the District Semifinal
5/11/2012
DAN ROWBOTTOM DELIVERS THE FIRST HOME RUN OF THE SEASON FOR THE "SMALL BALL" WILDCATS AND SAINT IGNATIUS' PITCHING STAFF IS AGAIN SUPERB, AS THE 'CATS DEFEAT NORMANDY, 6-0, IN THURSDAY'S DIVISION I SECTIONAL FINAL AT BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE.  
     
5/10/2012

THE THIRD-SEEDED WILDCATS ADVANCE TO NEXT WEEK'S DISTRICT SEMIFINALS AT STRONGSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL, WHERE THEY WILL FACE THE SECOND-SEEDED BRECKSVILLE-BROADVIEW HEIGHTS BEES ON MAY 16 AT 4:30 P.M.

UP NEXT FOR THE 'CATS IS FRIDAY NIGHT'S REGULAR SEASON GAME AGAINST THE LAKEWOOD RANGERS IN LEGENDARY LAKEWOOD STADIUM. THE FIRST PITCH FOR THE VARSITY GAME IS 7 P.M. THE VARSITY MATCHUP WILL FOLLOW A 4:30 JUNIOR VARSITY GAME BETWEEN THE RANGERS AND THE WILDCATS.

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT MAY 2012

Berea, Ohio – Leading off in the bottom of the fifth inning on Thursday evening, Saint Ignatius’ gifted junior second baseman Dan Rowbottom got what he was looking for.

And oh my, did he make the most of it.

Turning on a first-pitch fastball, Rowbottom hit a majestic home run over the right-field fence at Baldwin-Wallace College. It was part of a Wildcats’ offensive attack that included a little bit of everything en route to a 6-0, Division I sectional-final victory over the Invaders from Normandy.

Rowbottom’s blast also had some historical aspects to it, as it was Dan’s first round tripper on the varsity level, Saint Ignatius’ first home run as team this season and the first homer produced by the Wildcats’ all-wood bats, small-ball approach of 2012.

“Lately, I’ve been trying to take advantage of the first pitch,” said the left-handed hitting Rowbottom, who pointed out that senior center fielder and tri-captain Tim McCoy belted a home run during the preseason scrimmages. “The first pitch is usually a fastball and later on I’m usually seeing the off-speed stuff. He gave me an inside fastball, that’s the pitch right there. It felt good, the ball just kept on going.”

Saint Ignatius, which improved to 16-9, will keep on going, as the victory over the Invaders vaulted the 'Cats into a May 16th district-semifinal date with Brecksville-Broadview Heights. The first pitch on the 16th will be 4:30 p.m. from Strongsville High School. Saint Ignatius and Brecksville played at Progressive Field last month and the 'Cats came away with a 1-0 victory in a game that saw both teams use an array of pitchers.

Along with an offense that rolled three deuces – two runs in the second, third and fifth innings – Wildcats head coach Brad Ganor and pitching coach T.J. Donovan ‘94 witnessed another outstanding effort from the ‘Cats’ pitching staff.

Less than 24 hours after senior right-hander and tri-captain Matt Hoyer threw a one-hitter in a 10-0, sectional-semifinal triumph over Maple Heights, junior left-hander Tom Rolle, senior southpaw Zak Shockley, senior right-hander Scott Chase and junior right-hander Matt Lynch combined on the shutout over Normandy. The firing foursome totaled 10 strikeouts in what was Saint Ignatius’ fourth staff (more than one pitcher) shutout this spring and seventh overall. Phenomenal was the word Coach Ganor used in referring to the combined shutouts.

Rolle pitched two perfect innings, striking out four, and Shockley, a Marshall recruit, threw two hitless innings with a K. Chase pitched the fifth and sixth innings, yielding two singles and striking out three, and Lynch put the seal on the deal in the seventh by striking out two. Normandy’s third and final hit came on a single in the seventh.

“A couple of plays we didn’t execute today, which was disappointing, but we executed others,” Coach Ganor said. “Scoring early and giving our pitching staff confidence is very important. Guys were coming in and throwing strikes and we were in control for most of the game.”

Saint Ignatius' two runs in the second inning resulted from a walk and a stolen base by junior third baseman Tyler Finkler, a base hit by and a stolen base by senior catcher Ralph Lucarelli, an RBI single by senior shortstop and tri-captain Mike Ruffing and a perfectly executed bunt to the right side by junior first baseman Mike LaManna.

Senior right fielder Dan Oaklief fueled the two-run third by driving the ball to deep left field for a lead-off double. Dan moved to third on fielder’s choice and scored on a wild pitch.

A walk to McCoy and his consecutive stolen bases, a walk to senior designated hitter Stephen Alexander and another wild pitch produced the ‘Cats’ fourth run, and the two-run fifth was highlighted by Rowbottom’s authoritative greeting to Mr. Rawlings, an infield hit by McCoy that was followed by his third stolen base on the day, a sacrifice fly by Alexander and a suicide squeeze by Finkler.

“We know how well we can play, when we play the way the coaches taught us,” said Rowbottom. “We just want to take advantage of it and see how far we can go in this tournament.”

FROM THE SIBN: John Fanta ’13, the lead broadcaster for the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network, wanted to send out his apologies, as the SIBN lost power in the seventh inning of the Normandy game. John emphasized that the SIBN will be fine-tuned and ready to go for its next broadcast, which is Saturday’s 4 p.m. varsity game against St. Edward at B-W.

Rounding the corner and heading home.

 

 

Hoyer and the 'Cats Fire a One-Hitter and Blowout Maple Heights
5/10/2012
   
     
5/9/2012
MATT HOYER FIRES A ONE-HITTER AND THE WILDCATS RIDE A SIX-RUN FIRST INNING TO A 10-0 VICTORY OVER MAPLE HEIGHTS IN A DIVISION I SECTIONAL SEMIFINAL BASEBALL GAME UNDER THE LIGHTS IN ALL PRO FREIGHT STADIUM.  
     
5/9/2012

HOYER STRIKES OUT SIX IN SIX INNINGS EN ROUTE TO IMPROVING TO 6-1 ON THE SEASON.

*SAINT IGNATIUS TO FACE NORMANDY IN THURSDAY'S SECTIONAL FINAL AT B-W.

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT MAY 2012

Avon, Ohio – After he continued his exceptional season on the mound by limiting Maple Heights to one hit on Wednesday night, Saint Ignatius’ 6-foot-4 senior right-hander Matt Hoyer talked about how baseball, especially on the high school level, is truly a game of momentum.

“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” Hoyer said after he led the Wildcats past the Mustangs, 10-0, in a Division I sectional semifinal that was called in the bottom of the sixth because of the 10-run mercy rule. “You have to have momentum through every game and carry it on to the next one.”

The next one for Saint Ignatius (15-9) is Thursday’s (tomorrow) sectional-final matchup at Baldwin-Wallace College against the Normandy Invaders. The first pitch is 4:30 p.m. Normandy advanced by outslugging Berea, 9-8.

As for Wednesday night in a rainbow sky All Pro Freight Stadium, Hoyer turned to his fastball in building his own momentum, which resulted in six strikeouts in six innings, a walk, a hit batsman and Maple Heights’ only hit – a two-out single up the middle in the top of the fourth by opposing pitcher Dwayne Bridges.

“I was just doing my usual thing out there, it wasn’t anything I was throwing that they weren’t going to touch,” Matt said after he upped his record to a team-best 6-1. “They were making some contact and had one hit. I was just doing my thing.”

And Hoyer’s thing saw him retire the first 11 Mustangs in order.

As for the Wildcats’ offense, it set the tempo early and often. Sending nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the first inning, Saint Ignatius got the run parade started with a leadoff single to right field by junior left fielder Conor Hennessey, a ball that bounced away from the right fielder and allowed Hennessey to advance to second base. After a sacrifice bunt by gritty senior outfielder Dan Oaklief, gifted junior second baseman Dan Rowbottom lined an RBI triple the opposite way to left field.

Following an errant throw back to the pitcher that allowed Rowbottom to cross the plate, senior center fielder and tri-captain Tim McCoy ripped a single to center field, stole second base, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored the ‘Cats’ third run on a base hit by senior first baseman/designated hitter/outfielder Stephen Alexander.

Saint Ignatius then combined a dropped fly ball by the left fielder that resulted in a three-base error, a walk to senior catcher Ralph Lucarelli, a fielder’s choice and another error in completing its six-run first.

The Wildcats, who are seeded third at the Strongsville sectional/district, used a one-out walk to Oaklief, another base hit by Rowbottom and a grounder to the right side by McCoy in pushing their lead to 7-0 in the bottom of the second. Coach Brad Ganor’s team settled the issue with two runs in the bottom of the fourth and a game-ending run in the sixth that was set up by a hustling infield hit by Oaklief and McCoy’s line-drive single down the right-field line.

Maple Heights, which slipped to 5-12, pulled off two exceptional defensive gems – a fully extended diving catch in right center by senior center fielder Jeron Williams in the bottom of the third and a play by senior shortstop Noah Tolliver that saw him knock down a ground ball, pick it up and fire a strike to home plate for the second out in the bottom of the fifth.

Bridges, a sophomore right-hander, settled down after the first inning and was able to keep Saint Ignatius off the board in the third and fifth innings.

“He’s been phenomenal,” said Coach Ganor after Hoyer helped the Wildcats snap a four-game losing streak, a small skid that included two one-run losses (Brunswick and Toledo St. John’s Jesuit) and a 7-4 setback to Cincinnati power St. Xavier on Sunday that was one clutch hit away from being a different story.

“That’s pretty good baseball right there,” Coach Ganor continued while discussing Hoyer’s performance and the solid defense and clutch hitting his team put on display Wednesday night. “We’ve been talking for three days now, since the Jesuit tournament, about when we have guys on second and third or a guy on third with less than two outs, we need to get those runs in. All we did for the last two days in practice was situational hitting. And they did it tonight.”

Varsity Sectional Semi-Final Game Moved to New Location and Time
5/9/2012

Today's Sectional Semi-Final game vs Maple Hts has been moved to All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon and will begin at 7 PM.

Varisty Baseball vs Walsh Jesuit Postponed Today
5/7/2012
Saint Ignatius at Walsh Jesuit baseball game is cancelled.  
     
5/7/2012

Monday's final game of the Ohio Jesuit Cup between Saint Ignatius and Walsh Jesuit at Walsh has been cancelled.

The Wildcats' next scheduled game is Wednesday against Maple Heights in the Division I sectional semifinals. Wednesday's game is slated for Baldwin-Wallace College at 4:30 p.m., but we will let you know if there is any change in the venue.

- EDDIE DWYER 

Saint Ignatius (14-9) Will Travel to Walsh Jesuit Monday as a Full Pitching Staff Will be Used in the OJT Finale
5/6/2012

By Eddie Dwyer

SAINT IGNATIUS WILL TRAVEL TO WALSH JESUIT ON MONDAY FOR A JESUIT CUP FINALE AT 4:30 P.M.

The Wildcats Lose Two More to Add to the Now 4 Game Losing Streak in the Weekend OJT Recap
5/6/2012
THE BOMBERS FROM SAINT XAVIER RIDE A TWO-RUN SIXTH INNING AND A RUN IN THE SEVENTH TO A 7-4 VICTORY OVER SAINT IGNATIUS IN SUNDAY'S OHIO JESUIT CUP PLAY AT ALL PRO FREIGHT STADIUM.  
     
5/6/2012

POSTED BY EDDIE DWYER

THE TITANS FROM ST. JOHN'S JESUIT AND SAINT XAVIER EACH FINISH 2-1 IN JESUIT CUP PLAY, AS ST. JOHN'S DEFEATS ST. X, 7-3, IN SUNDAY'S FIRST GAME.

SAINT IGNATIUS WILL TRAVEL TO WALSH JESUIT ON MONDAY FOR A JESUIT CUP FINALE AT 4:30 P.M.

A COMPLETE STORY ON SUNDAY'S GAMES WILL BE COMING UP ON THE CORNER.

 

DARKNESS AND INSUFFICIENT LIGHTING ON SATURDAY NIGHT FORCE SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE TO BE RE-ARRANGED AND THE WALSH JESUIT VS. SAINT IGNATIUS GAME TO BE MOVED TO MONDAY AT WALSH JESUIT.

THREE OF THE FOUR GAMES SCHEDULED FOR SATURDAY WERE PLAYED.

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT MAY 2012

Avon, Ohio - You are going to have to stay with us on this one.

The annual Ohio Jesuit Cup baseball tournament got underway on Saturday afternoon and the first three games were played under a partly sunny sky that was accompanied by some brisk and stiff winds swirling around All Pro Freight Stadium.

The Titans from Toledo St. John's Jesuit defeated host Saint Ignatius, 5-4, in the 12:30 opener. Walsh Jesuit rallied past St. John's, 4-3, in the second game and the powerful club from Cincinnati St. Xavier defeated Walsh Jesuit, 11-1, in what turned out to be the final game on Saturday.

Saint Ignatius and St. Xavier were scheduled to play under the lights at 8 p.m., but with the Walsh-Xavier game ending close to 9 p.m. and, quite frankly, the lighting in the stadium being less than sufficient for a 9 p.m. start, the tournament had to be shuffled a bit.

Here is what the coaches decided on.

On Sunday (tomorrow) at 1 p.m., St. John's will play St. Xavier. Between 3:30 and 4 p.m., Saint Ignatius will face the Bombers from St. Xavier. Both of those games will be played in All Pro Freight Stadium.

As for the final game of the Jesuit Cup between Saint Ignatius and Walsh Jesuit, it has been rescheduled for Monday at Walsh Jesuit. Game time will be 4:30 p.m.

Here are the recaps on the games that were played on Saturday.

ST. JOHN'S 5, SAINT IGNATIUS 4: In a game very similar to the Wildcats' 5-4 loss at Brunswick on Friday, the Titans jumped out to an early lead and then held on.

St. John's scored its first run in the top of the first inning on a two-out RBI single by junior infielder/pitcher Jimmy Scott.

The Titans made it 4-0 with a three-run second that featured a run-scoring single by sophomore catcher Mike Barrett, a sacrfice fly RBI by junior outfielder Liam Allen and an RBI single to center field by senior designated hitter/infielder Nate Pearson.

In the top of the fifth, Scott led off with a single and senior outfielder/pitcher Joe Robie followed with an infield hit. St. John's then pushed its lead to 5-0 by scoring on a two-out wild pitch.

Saint Ignatius, which slipped to 14-8 on the season, loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth on base hits by senior right fielder Dan Oaklief and junior second baseman Dan Rowbottom, and a walk to sophomore left fielder Nick Longo.

Senior pitcher Cam Brickman, who relieved Titans senior starter Matt Henderson, fielded a bouncer to the mound and made an errant throw to home that allowed two runs to score. Wildcats senior infielder Tim Hawkins Hodgson, who was injured during the early part of the season, stepped to the plate and produced a two-run single to center that made it a one-run game.

Scott then came on in relief and preserved the one-run lead by retiring five of the last six batters he faced.

The Wildcats, who are expected to split Sunday's game against St. Xavier between senior southpaw Zak Shockley and junior left-hander Tom Rolle, turned in two defensive gems against St. John's.

With one out in the top of the sixth, Titans standout senior center fielder/pitcher Jesse Adams, a Boston College recruit, lined a rope to left field that had double written all over it. However, Longo ran the ball down and fired a perfect throw to Rowbottom to nail Adams at second.

In the top of the seventh, Pearson lined the ball to right field for what everbody in the stadium thought was a single. Everybody but Oaklief.

Dan hustled after the ball, field it off the ground and made a strong throw to junior Mike LaManna at first for the second out of the inning. Just your routine 9-3 play.

WALSH JESUIT 4, ST, JOHN'S 3: The Warriors won it on a walk-off two-run double in the bottom of the seventh by their outstanding junior catcher Cassidy Brown.

ST. XAVIER 11, WALSH JESUIT 1:The talent-rich Bombers pounded out 10 hits and limited the Warriors to just three hits. The team from the Queen City took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and settled the issue with a seven-run sixth.

FANTA FEVER: In between his play-by play and color commentary for the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network on Saturday, John Fanta '13, 30-plus minutes before post time, boldy predicted that 15-1 shot I'll Have Another would win the Kentucky Derby. And you saw what happened.   

          

Wildcats Fall Early to Brunswick, and Can't Battle Back
5/4/2012
Brunswick jumps on the Wildcats early and hangs on to defeat the 'Cats, 5-4, in area high school baseball action on Friday evening.  
     
5/4/2012

Saint Ignatius, which made an impressive rally in the top of the fifth only to come up short, will take a 14-7 record into Saturday's Ohio Jesuit Cup at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon. The Wildcats will face Toledo St. John's Jesuit at 12:30 p.m., and return to All Pro Freight Stadium on Saturday night for an 8 p.m. matchup with Cincinnati St. Xavier.

Along with their four-run fifth, the 'Cats also got a solid performance in relief from sophmore left-hander Nick Margevicius.

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT MAY 2012

Brunswick, Ohio – For Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor, there were things to be proud of during Friday evening’s 5-4 loss at Brunswick.

Trailing, 5-0, the Wildcats sent nine batters to the plate in the top of the fifth inning en route to scoring four times and putting the pressure on a Brunswick team that now stands 18-4.

Coach Ganor also pointed to the work by sophomore left-hander and recent junior-varsity call up Nick Margevicius, who kept Saint Ignatius in the game with his second strong performance out of the bullpen.

No, it wasn’t the way Coach Ganor wanted to enter this weekend’s annual Ohio Jesuit Cup, a two-day event at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon that will see the Wildcats play three of strongest teams in Ohio – St. John’s Jesuit, St. Xavier and Walsh Jesuit. The corner previews the Jesuit Cup in a story below.

However, even though Saint Ignatius (14-7) will take a two-game losing streak into the Jesuit Cup, Coach Ganor emphasized that neither Brunswick nor the Jesuit Cup are the Wildcats’ season.

From day one of winter practice, Saint Ignatius’ emphasis has always been on the OHSAA state tournament, which for the Wildcats begins Wednesday against Maple Heights in sectional play.

Now don’t get Coach Ganor and his staff wrong. The ‘Cats would love to recapture their momentum by making a strong showing in the Jesuit Cup, especially after failing to win a game at last year’s Cup. But, as any veteran area high school baseball fan will tell you, it is all about what happens in mid-to late May.

And that holds even truer for Saint Ignatius, which is looking to advance to the OHSAA Division I regional for the first time since 2009.

As for Mr. Momentum, he was holding court in Brunswick’s dugout through four innings on Friday evening.

Undaunted by a huge threatening cloud that hovered over their field and some on-again, off-again showers, the Blue Devils scored three times in the bottom of the first and made it 5-0 with a two-run fourth.

A leadoff single up the middle by Kyle Burson, a stolen base by Burson,  three consecutive walks and a two-out RBI single by Jesse Elias helped fuel Brunswick’s three-run first. The two-run fourth included another hit by Burson, a throwing error and a run-scoring double by Kyle Michalik.

Just when the Blue Devils’ faithful were feeling pretty comfortable, the Wildcats came alive.

Senior center fielder and tri-captain Tim McCoy started the top of the fifth by being hit by a pitch. Senior first baseman Stephen Alexander drew a walk and junior third baseman Tyler Finkler ripped an RBI double off the fence in left field.

A sharp grounder to short off the bat of senior catcher Ralph Lucarelli brought home Saint Ignatius’ second run and, after senior shortstop and tri-captain Mike Ruffing drew a walk, senior right fielder Scott Chase hit an authoritative grounder to the left side for another run.

Junior left fielder Conor Hennessey then made it a one-run game by delivering a line-drive RBI-double down the left-field line.

A leaping catch of a line drive by Ruffing that he turned into a double play in the bottom of the fifth kept the Wildcats within one run, but the Blue Devils were able to hold on.

As part of what was a tribute by Brunswick to our Armed Forces, past and present, both teams wore camouflage baseball jerseys. 

   

VIDEO: 2012 Across the Table Ohio Jesuit Tournament
5/4/2012

The Wildcats Will Host the Ohio Jesuit Tournament at All Pro Freight for the First Time Ever this Weekend
5/3/2012

 

IT'S A HISTORY-MAKING WEEKEND IN SAINT IGNATIUS BASEBALL, AS COACH BRAD GANOR'S WILDCATS WILL HOST THE ANNUAL OHIO JESUIT CUP FOR THE FIRST TIME.  
     
5/3/2012

AN ARRAY OF TALENT WILL BE ON DISPLAY AT ALL PRO FREIGHT STADIUM IN AVON.

THE WILDCATS ARE LOOKING TO IMPROVE UPON LAST SEASON’S OUTCOME.

*A COMPLETE GAME STORY ON THE 'CATS' VICTORY OVER KIRTLAND FOLLOWS THE JESUIT CUP PREVIEW.

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT MAY 2012

Betrayed by its pitching and defense, Saint Ignatius walked away from last year’s Ohio Jesuit Cup with a 0-3 tournament record, 0-4 if you count the completion of a suspended regular season game with Walsh Jesuit that was also played during the Jesuit Cup.

The Wildcats actually swung the bats pretty well that trying weekend on the campus of Toledo St. John’s Jesuit High School and Academy. However, Saint Ignatius’ pitching and defense, the areas that veteran head coach Brad Ganor said would make or break his 2011 team, disappeared for two days.

That was last season.

Coach Ganor’s 2012 Wildcats are not only playing sound defense and pitching extremely well, but seem to have a resiliency that all good teams strive for. And that ability to bounce back and pick each other up has Saint Ignatius carrying a 14-5 record and a six-game winning streak entering Thursday’s road matchup with Tallmadge.

Maybe Mrs. McCoy, the mother of Saint Ignatius’ talented senior center fielder and tri-captain Tim McCoy, said it best when she described this group of Wildcats as “selfless.”

Switching over to wood bats exclusively and playing an entertaining and refreshing brand of “small ball,” Saint Ignatius is looking forward to some redemption this weekend when, for the first time, it will host the annual Ohio Jesuit Cup.

Competing with the Wildcats in the Lake Erie Crushers’ baseball-rich All Pro Freight Stadium will be the outstanding programs from Cincinnati St. Xavier, Walsh Jesuit and Toledo St. John’s Jesuit. Six games will be played over Saturday and Sunday and all six will be broadcast live with video over Saint Ignatius’ Student Broadcasting Network.John Fanta, Greg Ziton, Trent Kennedy and a “cast of thousands” will be presenting the play by play and color commentary.

Saturday’s action will feature four games and the Jesuit Cup will wrap up with two games on Sunday. Saturday’s schedule gets underway with a matchup between Saint Ignatius and St. John’s Jesuit at 12:30 p.m. At 3 p.m., St. John’s will take on Walsh Jesuit, St. Xavier will play Walsh Jesuit at 5 p.m., and the 8 p.m. nightcap will have the Wildcats facing St. Xavier.

On Sunday, St. Xavier and St. John’s square off at 1:30 p.m., and the tournament wraps up with Saint Ignatius matching pitches against Walsh Jesuit at 4:30.

As he has done throughout the first month of the season, Coach Ganor will turn to a pitching staff led by 6-foot-4 senior right-hander and tri-captain Matt Hoyer (5-0), 6-5 senior left-hander Zak Shockley (4-1), senior right-hander Scott Chase (2-0), junior southpaw Tom Rolle (a deceiving 1-2) and junior right-handers Matt Lynch and Kyle Pluta. Chase has been outstanding as a starter and a reliever, and Lynch has been a bulldog out of the pen.

Defensively, senior shortstop and tri-captain Mike Ruffing and gifted junior second baseman Dan Rowbottom have been vacuums in the middle, junior third baseman Tyler Finkler has flashed a gold glove at the hot corner and senior Stephen Alexander and junior Mike LaManna have been more than capable at first base. Seniors Ralph Lucarelli and Andrew Piscioneri give Coach Ganor that savvy experience you need behind the dish.

In the outfield, the Wildcats have the range that enables them to prowl on a daily basis. Providing that security in the gaps are McCoy, junior left fielder and leadoff catalyst Conor Hennessey, unsung senior right fielder Dan Oaklief and sophomore outfielder/left-handed pitcher Nick Longo.

The small-ball table is usually set by Hennessey and Oaklief, and Rowbottom, McCoy, Alexander, Finkler, Lucarelli and Piscioneri are among those ‘Cats who attempt to clean up with an RBI or keep the bases occupied.

HERE IS A LOOK AT SAINT IGNATIUS’ JESUIT BROTHERS AND HOW THEY ARE FAIRING THIS SPRING.

CINCINNATI ST. XAVIER: Entering Thursday's game at Ross High School, the Bombers stood 14-2 and were on an 11-game winning streak. As usual, St. Xavier is swinging its bats with authority and causing havoc on the bases.

Sporting a .327 team batting average with 26 doubles, 46 stolen bases and 139 runs scored through 16 games, Coach Bill Slinger’s lineup has been tough from top to bottom.

Among those doing most of the damage are senior infielder/pitcher Alex Hart (.389, 4 doubles and 14 RBI); junior outfielder/pitcher Joe Gellenbeck (.395, 4 doubles, a triple and 17 RBI); senior first baseman/pitcher Mike Hedgebeth (.405, 3 doubles and 14 RBI); senior infielder/pitcher Dom Plageman (.442, 2 doubles and 12 RBI); sophomore catcher/infielder Jordan McDonough (.318, 7 doubles, 2 home runs and 20 RBI) and the catalyst – senior outfielder/infielder Conor Hundley (.415, two home runs, two doubles, 13 RBI and 19, yes 19, stolen bases).

Probably better known to the Wildcats’ faithful as an outstanding tailback in football, Hundley drew five of the 11 walks Saint Ignatius issued during the 18-7 loss to the Bombers at last year’s Jesuit Cup.

WALSH JESUIT: One of the most tradition-rich programs in Ohio, the Warriors stood at 17-3 after splitting two early week games with North Coast League rival Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin. Walsh Jesuit’s freshman right-hander Ryan Feltner took the tough 3-2 loss at NDCL, a game that saw the Lions score three unearned runs.

On Tuesday at Walsh Jesuit, the Warriors set the tempo on a first-inning grand slam by senior center fielder Graeme Frye and went on to a 10-0 victory over NDCL.

Coach Chris Kaczmar’s team has moved up to Division I this season after winning the Division II state championship four times – 2008, 2006, 2004 and 1999 – and finishing as the Division II state runner-up twice – 2010 and 2009.

As always, Walsh Jesuit features a solid and baseball savvy lineup led by nationally recognized junior catcher Cassidy Brown, gifted senior second baseman/shortstop Drew Miletti and the ace of Coach Kaczmar’s pitching staff – senior southpaw Michael Marsinek.

The 6-3, 205-pound Brown, who has been a fixture in the Warriors’ lineup since his freshman season, can also play third base and take the mound as a right-handed pitcher. And oh yeah, he swings a capable bat. Just ask the Nordonia Knights.

In a double-header sweep over Nordonia last weekend, Brown had a two-run double and a grand slam during a 15-5 disarming of the Knights and he came up with a walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh inning in the 6-5 triumph. The decisive double was part of a three-hit game for Cassidy. Brown also homered (his 5th of the season) during Tuesday’s victory over NDCL.

Miletti, who never stops hustling, scored four runs in the 10-run victory over Nordonia and also came up big in the one-run game by tying the score at 5-5 with a two-run run homer in the fifth. A two-year varsity mainstay, Miletti was a Gold Glove winner in 2011 and is going to further his education and baseball career for the Battling Bishops of Ohio Wesleyan.

As for Marsinek, the numbers speak for themselves. But then as is the case with most successful pitchers, it goes much deeper.

Entering the Jesuit Cup, Marsinek carries a 16-0 record since the start of his junior season and a 19-1 career mark that includes an 8-0 start this spring. This season’s fast start consists of an ERA comfortably below 1.00. Marsinek will be quick to point out, however, that those impressive numbers are also the result of an always-sound Walsh Jesuit defense and the job Brown does calling pitches.

And it doesn’t hurt to be able to combine velocity and control with what has been described by the Wildcats' Piscioneri and Rowbottom as an unorthodox delivery. Andrew and Dan have competed with Marsinek in the summer.

TOLEO ST. JOHN’S JESUIT:  If you don’t remember these Titans, let us refresh your memory.

In compiling a 22-6 record last season, St. John’s Jesuit was a Division I district champion and, in what was one of Ohio’s most dramatic regional matchups of 2011, lost a heart breaker to the outstanding baseball program at Perrysburg, 1-0. The game’s only run was scored on a suicide squeeze.

It’s a new baseball era for the Titans, as Mike O'Reilly, who won 400 games at Sylvania Southview, is in his first season as the skipper at St. John’s. Coach O’Reilly is back in the game after retiring in 2008. He has taken over a veteran team that lost only three players to graduation.

Following up on last year’s success, the Titans improved to 12-2 and extended their winning streak to 10 games with a 9-4 victory at Findlay (10-7) on Monday. With the win, St. John’s remained perfect in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference at 7-0. In a vote by the coaches, the Titans were the preseason choice to bring home the TRAC championship.

Leading the way for St. John’s is senior left-handed pitcher/center fielder/leadoff hitter Jesse Adams, who has signed a national letter of intent with Boston College. Adams threw three perfect innings against Findlay, striking out five. Jesse was the Toledo City League’s Player of the Year last season.

Yet another Jesuit High School team that is respected for its fundamentals and its ability to play “small ball,” St. John’s put its muscle on display after Findlay cut a 5-0 deficit to 5-3.

Doubles by Nate Pearson, Joe Robie and Corey Tipton, and a triple by Jeff Sheehy that flirted with the fence in right center helped settle the issue in the top of the seventh.

As a strike-throwing senior southpaw, Robie is a solid complement to Adams. Pearson is a first baseman and a Toledo recruit and another Titan to remember is shortstop/pitcher Jimmy Scott.

MORE THAN JUST BASEBALL: While the competition on the field should be something to remember this weekend, there will be other memories to cherish. Part of the tradition of the annual Jesuit Cup is the Sunday morning Mass that the players, coaches and families from each school celebrate together and the breakfast that follows. Both of these long-standing events will take place on the campus of Saint Ignatius before the teams head west on 1-90 for Avon and All Pro Freight Stadium. Sunday’s Mass is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

AGAIN NEXT SPRING: Word is that Saint Ignatius waited so long to finally host the Jesuit Cup that Cleveland’s Jesuit Preparatory School will also be given the honor next year.

AND A HUGE THANK YOU GOES OUT TO: The mothers of Saint Ignatius’ captains – Mrs. Ruffing, Mrs. McCoy and Mrs. Hoyer - and Mrs. LaManna and all of the parents and volunteers who have worked so hard to make this historical weekend a special one.

 

 

Wildcst Pitcher Scott Chase Will be at Mount Union Next Fall
5/3/2012
SCOTT CHASE IS BOUND FOR MOUNT UNION.  
     
5/3/2012

POSTED BY EDDIE DWYER

Saint Ignatius senior right-hander Scott Chase, who has been outstanding as both a starter and a reliever this spring, will be furthering his education and baseball career at Mount Union.

Scott, who also was a district qualifier in wrestling at 182 pounds this past winter, is a two-year varsity mainstay in baseball. He will become the 42nd player to go on to play college baseball under Wildcats head coach Brad Ganor. Coach Ganor is in his eighth season as Saint Ignatius' skipper.

In his last outing, Scott improved to 2-0 on the season by throwing a three-hitter and striking out eight in six innings of work against Holy Name.

Congratulations to Scott and his family.  

 

Saint Ignatius has a Tough Day With Tallmadge as the 6 Game Winning Streak is Snapped
5/3/2012
Hit batsmen and errors open the flood gates and Tallmadge flows to a 16-2 victory over Saint Ignatius in area baseball action on Thursday evening.  
 
   

THE BLUE DEVILS TAKE COMMAND WITH A SEVEN-RUN SECOND INNING EN ROUTE TO SNAPPING THE WILDCATS' SIX-GAME WINNING STREAK.

SAINT IGNATIUS WILL LOOK TO REBOUND AND START A NEW STREAK WHEN IT TRAVELS TO BRUNSWICK ON FRIDAY FOR A MATCHUP WITH ANOTHER TALENTED GROUP OF BLUE DEVILS. JUNIOR RIGHT-HANDER KYLE PLUTA IS EXPECTED TO GET THE STARTING ASSIGNMENT FOR THE 4:30 FIRST PITCH.

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT MAY 2012

Tallmadge, Ohio - Saint Ignatius’ veteran pitching coach T.J. Donovan ’94 said it was a “perfect storm” that knocked the Wildcats off course on a warm and ideal-for-baseball Thursday evening, as coach Kenny Linn’s Tallmadge Blue Devils docked the Wildcats for the second consecutive season.

“We were not able to get ahead of hitters, we didn’t locate very well overall as a staff and a lot of their hits found holes,” Coach Donovan said, after Tallmadge defeated Saint Ignatius, 16-2, in a game that was called after 4 ½ innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.

“When we don’t play well defensively, we need to be better offensively,” Coach Donovan continued. “And when we don’t hit the ball, we need to get better pitching. Unfortunately, it was a perfect storm of three different areas. We struggled all around.”

The Wildcats (14-6), who were also defeated by Tallmadge, 16-6, last year in what was the second game of a doubleheader at Archbishop Hoban High School, were able to turn base hits by junior Tyler Finkler and senior Scott Chase into a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. It was, however, rough sailing from that point on.

Playing with poise and confidence on their atmosphere-rich home field, the Blue Devils wasted little time in erasing Saint Ignatius’ early lead.

Taking advantage of a walk, a passed ball, a single by junior center fielder Cordt Skraba, a missed cutoff, another walk, a fielder’s choice and an RBI infield hit by senior catcher Matt Boyer, Tallmadge scored four times in the bottom of the first.

After junior right-hander Nick Robinson set the ‘Cats down in order in the top of the second,  the Blue Devils stormed their way to a telling seven-run bottom of the second.

In sending 12 batters to the plate, Tallmadge took advantage of everything Saint Ignatius gave it and did plenty of damage on its own en route to building an 11-1 lead after two innings.

The table was set in the bottom of the second with two consecutive hit batsmen and an error. Those miscues were followed by a bases-loaded walk, a sacrifice fly by senior first baseman Tucker Linder, another hit batsman, a two-run single by junior second baseman Kody Edwards, an RBI single by Boyer, a sacrifice fly by Robinson, a wild pitch and a run-scoring single through the right side by junior right fielder Zach Cleary.

With Robinson (4-0 and ERA below 0.66) getting into a groove, the Blue Devils tacked on two more runs in the third and closed their scoring with a three-run fourth. The big blows in the third were a double by Linder, who is a Kent State recruit, and an RBI single by sophomore left fielder Chris Gray. A two-run triple by Skraba highlighted the final wave in the fourth.

While there is no question that Tallmadge (14-7) was the superior team on Thursday evening, Saint Ignatius did give starters Dan Rowbottom (second base), Mike Ruffing (shortstop) and Stephen Alexander (designated hitter/first base) the day off. Finkler, who has been having an exceptional season at third base, played shortstop on Thursday and starting senior right fielder Dan Oaklief missed the game because of illness.

Alexander and Rowbottom did pinch hit in the top of the fifth, with Alexander delivering a sharp single to right and Rowbottom bringing home the ‘Cats’ second run on a sacrifice fly.

Lord be willing, we’ll see you at Brunswick on Friday and at the Ohio Jesuit Cup (see preview below) on Saturday and Sunday at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon.

Rounding the corner and heading home.

 

A Great Pitching Performance by the Wildcat Staff Keeps the Wildcats Streak up to 6 Now
5/2/2012
THE WILDCATS' ARMS COME TO THE FORE AGAIN AND DAN ROWBOTTOM DELIVERS THREE HITS AND TWO RBI AS SAINT IGNATIUS ERASES A 2-0, FIRST-INNING DEFICIT AND DEFEATS KIRTLAND, 9-2.  
     
5/2/2012

MATT HOYER STANDS 5-0 AFTER THE 'CATS' SIXTH CONSECUTIVE VICTORY AND SOPHOMORE NICK MARGEVICIUS THROWS SOME NASTY STUFF IN HIS VARSITY DEBUT.

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT MAY 2012

Avon, Ohio -  Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor wasn’t about to complain after his team won its sixth consecutive game on Wednesday evening – a 9-2 triumph over Kirtland in atmosphere-rich All Pro Freight Stadium.

However, while Coach Ganor was pleased with what was another strong outing by his pitching staff, he said his team’s overall performance offensively was about what he expected.

“I don’t think they were real focused on today,” Coach Ganor said after the Wildcats improved to 14-5. “I think they were ready for other games that are ahead. We were just much more athletic than they are and we wore them down. But you have to win games like this. You can’t win pretty every time.”

If Saint Ignatius needed an emotional lift or awakening, the Kirtland Hornets (16-8) provided them with one in the top of the first inning.

With one out and nobody on, Kirtland took a 2-0 lead on consecutive base hits by left fielder Clayton Torok and shortstop Anthony Veneri, a wild pitch and a two-out base hit by second baseman Mitch Seelinger.

The Wildcats, who minds could have been on their next five games – Tallmadge, Brunswick, Toledo St. John’s Jesuit, Cincinnati St. Xavier and Walsh Jesuit – cut the deficit to 2-1 in the bottom of the first.

Junior left fielder and leadoff hitter Conor Hennessey reached on an infield hit, stole second and third base, and, after a walk to senior right fielder Dan Oaklief, scored on a single up the middle off the bat of gifted junior second baseman Dan Rowbottom.

After a nice reaction and hustle play by Rowbottom helped keep the Hornets off the board in the top of the second, Saint Ignatius left two runners stranded in its half of the second.

Senior right-hander Matt Hoyer, who has been rock steady this spring, came on in relief of starter Tom Rolle in the top of the third and took the sting out of the Hornets with a 1-2-3 inning that featured two strikeouts. Matt picked up his fifth victory against no losses when the Wildcats went ahead to stay by scoring twice in the bottom of the third.

A two-out base hit by senior center fielder and tri-captain Tim McCoy, a stolen base by McCoy and a two-base throwing error knotted the score at 2, and an RBI single by talented junior third baseman Tyler Finkler put the ‘Cats in front, 3-2. Tyler was competing against two of his second cousins in Kirtland’s Jake and Matthew Finkler.

Saint Ignatius got a scoreless top of the fourth from veteran senior left-hander Zak Shockley and steadily pulled away by scoring two runs in each of the next three innings. The Wildcats employed their “small ball” in the two-run fourth, rode a leadoff single by Rowbottom, an error off a botched pickoff attempt, a fielder’s choice, a hit batsman, another miscue on a pickoff and wild pitch into their first run in the fifth. They led, 7-2, after senior catcher Ralph Lucarelli produced a two-out RBI single in the fifth.

Junior right-handers Kyle Pluta and Matt Lynch put up zeroes in the top of the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, and Saint Ignatius left no doubt with their duce in the bottom of the sixth. The game’s final two runs were the result of a leadoff single by Oaklief, a wild pitch, an opposite-field RBI double by the left-handed swinging Rowbottom and a rip-city run-producing single to right field by McCoy.

In the top of the seventh, Coach Ganor called on a name that Wildcats fans would be wise to become familiar with.

Sophomore left-hander Nick Margevicius, who was having an impressive season for Saint Ignatius’ 17-1 junior varsity team, including a perfect game, made his varsity debut one he will always remember.

Displaying some authoritative and moving velocity that would bring a smile to the face of another southpaw – Sandy Koufax – Nick struck out the side. His three K’s gave pitching coach T. J. Donovan’s staff eight strikeouts on the evening against no walks.

Another sophomore left-hander, Nick Longo, will get the start tomorrow (Thursday) when the Wildcats travel to Tallmadge to face the always tough and talented Blue Devils at 4:30 p.m.

Stephen Alexander Heading to John Carroll
5/2/2012
STEPHEN ALEXANDER IS BOUND FOR JOHN CARROLL. THE CORNER'S PREVIEW ON THE OHIO JESUIT CUP WILL BE POSTED LATER TONIGHT.  
     
5/2/2012

POSTED BY EDDIE DWYER

Saint Ignatius' varsity baseball mainstay Stephen Alexander '12 will be continuing his outstanding Jesuit education and athletic career at John Carroll University.

One of Coach Brad Ganor's versatile performers, Stephen has excelled at first base this season and can also put on the gear and go behind the plate or take a spot in the outfield.

A left-handed hitter, Stephen has come up with several clutch hits this spring and has contributed to Coach Ganor's small ball attack by sacrificing and moving runners over. Stephen was also a varsity quarterback with an endless devotion to the Wildcats' all-important scout team each week.

Congratulations go out to Stephen and the entire Alexander family.

*Just fyi, the corner will post an outlook on this weekend's annual Ohio Jesuit Cup baseball tournament later tonight. We will take a look at the Wildcats, preview the always strong programs from Cincinnati St. Xavier, Walsh Jesuit and Toledo St. John's Jesuit and list the latest update on the weekend's schedule. Saint Ignatius is hosting the Jesuit Cup for the first time at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon.

See you at the Kirtland game today at All Pro Freight Stadium. 

Wildcats Will Make-Up Game with Brunswick Friday
5/1/2012

The Wildcats, who have a busy week as is (6 games in all), will make-up their affair with Brunswick that was called off due to inclement weather last week. That game is set for this Friday @ 4:30 PM.  The SIBN will broadcast Wednesday's game against Kirtland and the whole Ohio Jesuit Tournament. Every game will have live video from Avon, so tune in for six baseball games in two days.

 

Here is this week's schedule:

May 2 Kirtland All Pro Freight Stadium    4:30 PM    
May 3 Tallmadge Tallmadge HS 4:30 PM    
May 4 Brunswick (Make-Up) Brunswick HS  4:30 PM    
May 5 Toledo St. John (OJT) All Pro Freight Stadium   12:30 PM    
May 5 Cincinnati St. Xavier (OJT) All Pro Freight Stadium   8:00 PM     
May 6 Walsh Jesuit (OJT) All Pro Freight Stadium   4:00 PM  
Dan Oaklief (RF) Makes his College Decision
5/1/2012

POSTED BY EDDIE DWYER

Saint Ignatius' gritty and talented senior outfielder Dan Oaklief is going to further his education and baseball career at Maryville College in Tennessee.

Dan's work as one of the top-of-the-lineup catalysts for head coach Brad Ganor has enabled the Wildcats to play some of the best "small ball" in the state this spring. Saint Ignatius (13-5) enters Wednesday's matchup with Kirtland at All Pro Freight Stadium on a five-game winning streak.

In Coach Ganor's eight-plus seasons as the Wildcats' skipper, he has helped develop the skills of 40 students/athletes who have gone on to play college baseball.

Congratulations to Dan and his family.

 

Wildcats Will Begin Their Playoff Journey Next Week in the Strongsville District. A Full Preview of the OJT is on the Way.
4/30/2012
WILDCATS ARE SEEDED THIRD AT THE STRONGSVILLE DIVISION 1 SECTIONAL/DISTRICT.  
     
4/29/2012

POSTED BY EDDIE DWYER

Saint Ignatius' varsity baseball team was seeded third during Sunday's tournament draw for the Strongsville Division I sectional/district tournament.

Strongsville was the No. 1 seed, followed by Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Saint Ignatius and North Royalton.

Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats will begin their postseason against Maple Heights on May 9 in sectional play.

Saint Ignatius has a full slate of games this week. On Wednesday, the Wildcats will host Kirtland at All Pro Freight Stadium, Thursday they travel to Tallmadge, Friday is a makeup game at Brunswick and on Saturday and Sunday Saint Ignatius, for the first time, will host the annual Ohio Jesuit Cup at All Pro Freight Stadim. St. John's Jesuit, St. Xavier and Walsh Jesuit round out the Jesuit Cup field. The corner will preview the Jesuit Cup later this coming week.

Rounding third and heading home.

 

Chase and Lynch Shine in Beating Holy Name, but Game 2 is Postponed Due to Inclement Weather
4/28/2012
Despite a little sleet and a touch of snow, the Wildcats play one of their two scheduled games and defeat Holy Name, 3-2, on Saturday morning. Scott Chase and Matt Lynch continue Saint Ignatius' run of outstanding pitching.  
     
4/28/2012

*Ralph Lucarelli drives in the 'Cats' first two runs and Tim McCoy's leadoff single and a throwing error lead to the go-ahead run in the top of the sixth.

*The second game of the doubleheader, which matched Saint Ignatius and Archbishop Hoban, was rained out.

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT APRIL 2012

KURTZ PARK – It was brisk baby, but the gritty baseball teams from Saint Ignatius and Holy Name said let’s play ball.

After all, it had been awhile since these once storied West Senate rivals got together in any varsity sport.

Yes, the sleet made a guest appearance on Holy Name’s Leonard A. Rob Field in the early going and even some snowflakes took their cuts down the stretch.

But despite the less than desirable conditions, the Wildcats and the Green Wave played a spirited game with Saint Ignatius scrapping its way to its fifth consecutive victory, 3-2. The ‘Cats will now take a 13-5 record into Sunday’s tournament draw and seed meeting for next month’s Strongsville Division I sectional/district.

As for Saturday's scheduled second game of the doubleheader between Saint Ignatius and Archbishop Hoban, let’s just say Mother Nature threw another curveball in the form of a persistent and cold rain. The Wildcats and the Knights never took the field, as the wise and correct official call of a rainout was made by the umpires and coaches. No makeup date was determined.

“Scott did a phenomenal job,” said Wildcats head coach Brad Ganor, after senior right-hander Scott Chase improved to 2-0 by throwing a three-hitter at Holy Name, yielding one earned run, striking out eight and walking just one batter through six complete innings. “We were at a pitch count for him (80 pitches) and he hit that in the sixth inning, which was perfect and just what we were looking for.

“We got some clutch hits and played some small ball to win it again,” Coach Ganor continued. “I thought we were going to get to their guy (senior right-hander Joe Duff) early on, but he just kind of kept us off balance. We found a way to win.”

Helping show the way to that “W” was senior catcher Ralph Lucarelli, who had two of Saint Ignatius’ six hits and drove in two of the three runs. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow could prevent Ralph from going with the sleeveless look.

Stepping to the plate approximately 14 hours after returning home from Friday night’s 10-0 victory at Canton Central Catholic, the Wildcats started the game with an infield single by junior left fielder Conor Hennessey and a bunt by senior right fielder Dan Oaklief that he beat out.

However, with runners on first and second and no outs, Duff recorded a strikeout, a pick off and another strikeout.

Saint Ignatius combined a leadoff single to right field by senior designated hitter Stephen Alexander, a sacrifice bunt by junior third baseman Tyler Finkler and a line-drive RBI single to left-center field by Lucarelli into a 1-0 lead in the top of the second.

Holy Name (10-7), a Division II state semifinalist last season, tied the score in the bottom of the second on a single by Duff, a wild pitch and a two-base throwing error.

It stayed that way until the top of the fourth, when a walk to senior center fielder and tri-captain Tim McCoy, a ground ball to the right side by Alexander and two-out, run-scoring single to left by Lucarelli put the ‘Cats back in front, 2-1.

Coach Dennis Markiewicz’s Green Wave would tie the score in the bottom of the fourth by sandwiching two hits around a sacrifice bunt and coming up with a walk that loaded the bases. It was a hard-earned run, as after Holy Name tied it on a fielder’s choice, Chase prevented any further damage with a big-time, inning-ending K. Scott completed his day by retiring seven consecutive batters, four by way of the strikeout.

Saint Ignatius, which will take on Kirtland on Wednesday at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, travel to Tallmadge on Thursday and then host the Ohio Jesuit Cup for the first time on Saturday and Sunday (also at All Pro Freight Stadium), scored the winning run in the top of the sixth. It came courtesy of a lead-off single by McCoy, a fielder’s choice that advanced McCoy to second, a 5-3 ground out and a throwing error that occurred when McCoy broke for third on the throw to first off the 5-3 ground out.

Coach Ganor and Wildcats veteran pitching coach T. J. Donovan '94 called on junior right-hander Matt Lynch to close the show in the bottom of the seventh, and all the tough-minded Lynch did was strike out all three of the batters he faced.

“I asked Matt today if he could go in and throw a 1-2-3 seventh, and he did,” said Coach Ganor. “Winning games like this will pay off in the playoffs for sure.”  

 

Tom Rolle and the Wildcats Keep on Rollin', Beating Canton Cen. Catholic 10-0
4/27/2012

 

TOM ROLLE IS OUTSTANDING ON THE MOUND AND THE 'CATS PRODUCE A FINE NINE IN THE FIFTH EN ROUTE TO AN IMPRESSIVE 10-0 VICTORY OVER DEFENDING DIVISION III STATE CHAMPION CANTON CENTRAL CATHOLIC.  
     
4/27/2012

COACH BRAD GANOR'S TEAM RECORDS ITS THIRD SHUTOUT IN WHAT IS A FOUR-GAME WINNING STREAK. THE WILDCATS HAVE ALREADY SURPASSED LAST SEASON'S VICTORY TOTAL.

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT APRIL 2012

CANTON, OHIO – When the baseball purists among Saint Ignatius’ faithful look back on Friday evening’s impressive victory at Canton Central Catholic, they will be sure to talk about the nine-run fifth inning that helped fuel the 10-0 triumph over the reigning Division III state champs.

However, what can’t be forgotten in all of the excitement over the Wildcats’ second big inning in two days was the composure that gifted and gritty junior southpaw Tom Rolle reached back for in the bottom of the second.

The Crusaders from Central Catholic, who are not accustomed to losing by a lopsided score, let alone on their home field, had the bases loaded and nobody out in their half of the second.

In what was a scoreless game, Rolle retired the next batter on a strikeout and then got out of the jam on a 5-4-3 double play that was triggered by the hot glove at the hot corner – junior third baseman Tyler Finkler.

Rolle, whose deceiving record now stands at 1-2, shut down the Crusaders over the next three innings and in between was treated to a fifth-inning scoring barrage that left Central Catholic’s normally vocal supporters speechless.

The Wildcats, who were coming off a 10-0 victory over Firestone, a game that featured an 8-run third, improved to 12-5. Central Catholic, which had defeated Saint Ignatius in Canton the past two seasons, is now 16-5.

“I had to bear down, because my mechanics those first couple of innings, and especially that inning (the second), we’re pretty bad,” said Rolle, who scattered two singles and two infield hits, walked two and struck out four in his five complete innings of work. “When they loaded the bases, I had to take a deep breath and start to think about what I had to do to fix it. I made a first-pitch strike on the batter I struck out, and that kind of calmed me down. I got my mechanics back, felt really good and tried to make the pitches with the defense behind me.”

With Rolle making his pitches and the Wildcats continuing their run of sound defense, Saint Ignatius broke open a scoreless game by sending 13 batters to the plate in the top half of the fifth.

The Wildcats loaded the bases with one out by sandwiching two walks around an infield hit by Finkler. Senior right fielder Dan Oaklief, who was celebrating his 18th birthday, laid down a perfectly executed suicide-squeeze bunt for the game’s first run and baseball-savvy junior second baseman Dan Rowbottom loaded the bases again by drawing a four-pitch walk. Junior pinch runner Jagger Bruck was the first of nine runners to cross the plate in the fifth.

Senior center fielder and tri-captain Tim McCoy then hit a fly ball that the left fielder couldn’t handle and two more runs scored. The other big blows in the fifth were a two-run double by senior first baseman Stephen Alexander, an RBI single by senior designated hitter Ralph Lucarelli, a base hit by sophomore outfielder/left-handed pitcher Nick Longo, a two-run double to deep left by senior catcher Andrew Piscioneri and an RBI double to left-center by Finkler.

Rolle, who threw 76 pitches, 48 of which were strikes, was relieved by junior right-hander Kyle Pluta in the botttom of the sixth. Kyle put a seal on the deal by striking out three and yielding an infield hit in two scoreless innings.

Saint Ignatius scored its 10th run in the seventh on a two-out hustle double by senior shortstop and tri-captain Mike Ruffing and an RBI single by Piscioneri.

“I was anxious to come down here,” said Wildcats head coach Brad Ganor. “Two years in a row we’ve taken some beatings here. It was scoreless in the fifth and we hadn’t scored a run for Tom Rolle in 19 innings or something like that. It was great to get that squeeze down. They didn’t make a play in left and then we opened it up, but the difference was Tom getting out of that bases-loaded jam and executing that squeeze. And Tyler Finkler continues to play phenomenal defense for us.

“Good pitching and good defense leads to success, typically.”

If Mother Nature cooperates, the Wildcats will play a doubleheader on Saturday at Kurtz Park. They are scheduled to face Holy Name at 11 a.m., followed by a matchup with 2011 Division II state runner-up Archbishop Hoban. Senior right-hander Scott Chase and Longo will get the starting assignments.

Saint Ignatius’ junior-varsity team improved to 13-1 by defeating host Canton Central Catholic, 15-5, on Friday.

Rounding the corner and heading home.  

 

 

Shockley Shuts Down Firestone with a 10-0 One-Hitter, and a Time Change for Saturday's Doubleheader
4/27/2012
BEHIND AN EIGHT-RUN THIRD INNING AND ZAK SHOCKLEY'S MOUND MASTERY THE WILDCATS TAKE THE AIR OUT OF FIRESTONE, 10-0.  
     
4/26/2012

SHOCKLEY FIRES A ONE-HITTER IN IMPROVING TO 4-1 ON THE SEASON AND THE 'CATS SEND 12 BATTERS TO THE PLATE IN THE BOTTOM OF THE THIRD.

****NOW THAT IT IS OFFICIAL, THE CORNER WOULD LIKE TO EXPRESS ITS CONGRATULATIONS TO SAINT IGNATIUS ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME MEMBER AND JOHN J. WIRTZ AWARD WINNER OLIVER LUCK AND HIS ENTIRE FAMILY, AS THURSDAY NIGHT OLIVER WATCHED HIS ELDEST SON, ANDREW, BECOME THE NO. 1 PICK IN THE 2012 NFL DRAFT BY THE INDIANAPOLIS COLTS.

IT SEEMS LIKE YESTERDAY THAT WE STARTED POSTING ABOUT ANDREW'S BRILLIANT ALL-AMERICAN CAREER AT STANFORD. WHILE SOME SAINT IGNATIUS ALUMS KNEW THAT ANDREW WAS OLIVER'S SON, MANY DID NOT MAKE THE CONNECTION THREE YEARS AGO AND E-MAILED US SAYING THANKS FOR POSTING UPDATES ON ANDREW'S ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND INFORMING THEM OF THE SAINT IGNATIUS FAMILY CONNECTION.

MAY GOD BLESS ANDREW AND GUIDE HIM TO A HEALTHY AND SUCCESSFUL PROFESSIONAL CAREER. 

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT APRIL 2012

BEREA, OHIO – With Saint Ignatius’ varsity baseball team about to make the stretch run to the postseason, the Wildcats’ coaching staff is pleased with what is taking place on the diamond.

After Coach Brad Ganor’s team defeated Akron Firestone, 10-0, at Baldwin-Wallace College on Thursday evening, veteran assistant Mark Terlep said he is excited about the Wildcats’ defense and its ability to cover ground and make plays all over the field.

Savvy assistant Josh Bieneman talked about the character of the 2012 ‘Cats and their ability to stay in a game and win the close ones.

And veteran pitching coach T. J. Donovan ’94, who always tells it like it is, emphasized that no one is “just handed” innings on the varsity level, that they have to be earned and appreciated.

Thursday evening, Saint Ignatius’ veteran left-hander Zak Shockley took full advantage of his every inning on the mound, as the 6-foot-5 Marshall recruit limited Firestone’s Falcons to one hit – a lead-off single by senior right fielder Chris Merzweiler in the top of the fourth inning.

“The curveball was definitely coming off well, but the two seam was tailing like crazy,” said Shockley after he improved to 4-1 on the season and helped the Wildcats (11-5) to a mercy-rule victory. The game was called after 4 ½ innings because of the OHSAA’s 10-run rule.

“Luckily it came together pretty well and that helps a lot,” Shockley continued, while discussing what were his out pitches on Thursday. Zak also pointed out the benefits of a long and demanding hockey season as one of Coach Pat O’Rourke’s key defenders.

“I think it definitely helped in terms of fitness and strength, things like that,” Zak said of the ‘Cats’ record-setting hockey season. “It was a little different, because I changed my mechanics over the summer and it was a little harder to tweak them as I was coming back (after hockey season). But for the most part, I think it just took a couple of games to get it out of my system and now my control is back to where I need it.”

Shockley, who struck out five and walked two, got all of the support he needed when Saint Ignatius scored twice in the bottom of the first inning. But to the delight of the Wildcats’ faithful who braved the misty rain and cold temperatures, Coach Ganor’s team made it a 4-plus inning game with a 12-batters-to-the-plate parade and eight more runs in the bottom of the third.

As he has been doing all season, Saint Ignatius’ junior catalyst Conor Hennessey led off the bottom of the first with a single to right field off Falcons 6-8 senior southpaw Brandon Maddern. Senior right fielder Dan Oaklief followed with a bunt that he beat out for a base hit.

After a double steal and a line out to the second baseman, senior center fielder and tri-captain Tim McCoy beat out a ground ball and Hennessey raced home with the game’s first run. A sacrifice fly by senior designated hitter Stephen Alexander pushed the ‘Cats’ lead to 2-0.

For the Falcons (11-8), it was “Katie bar the door” in the bottom of the third.

Saint Ignatius, which travels to Canton on Friday to face the defending Division III state champion Crusaders from Central Catholic (a 5 p.m. first pitch), started its eight-run barrage with a base hit by gifted junior second baseman Dan Rowbottom, a walk to McCoy and a perfectly executed bunt for a base hit by Alexander.

A sacrifice fly by junior third baseman Tyler Finkler made it 3-0 and, after two errors, a text-book, run-producing bunt by senior shortstop and tri-captain Mike Ruffing, a wild pitch and another error, the “small ball” Wildcats led, 7-0.

The other ley hits in the eight is great inning were RBI singles by sophomore outfielder/left-handed pitcher Nick Longo and McCoy.

NOTE TIME CHANGE: After Friday’s matchup with Canton Central Catholic, Saint Ignatius is scheduled to face Holy Name and Archbishop Hoban in a doubleheader at Kurtz Park on Saturday. The ‘Cats will now play Holy Name at 11 a.m., with the Hoban game to follow. The Hoban Knights were the Division II state runners-up last year and Holy Name was a Division II state semifinalist last spring, losing to Hoban in the semifinals.


Hoyer Throws a Gem, as Saint Ignatius Holds on in the 7th to Beat the Eagles
4/25/2012
SAINT IGNATIUS DEFEATS ST. EDWARD FOR THE SECOND TIME IN EIGHT DAYS, AS THE WILDCATS COME AWAY WITH A 4-3 VICTORY IN ALL PRO FREIGHT STADIUM ON WEDNESDAY EVENING.  
     
4/25/2012

MATT HOYER PUTS FORTH ANOTHER GUTSY EFFORT ON THE MOUND, MATT LYNCH CLOSES IT DOWN, SMALL BALL COMES INTO PLAY EARLY AND TIM MCCOY AND STEPHEN ALEXANDER PROVIDE CLUTCH RBIs IN THE BOTTOM OF THE SIXTH.

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT APRIL 2012

Avon, Ohio – There are a number of ways to describe the 2012 Saint Ignatius varsity baseball team.

Gritty, resilient and baseball savvy are just a few that come to mind right away.

No matter what label you choose to tag these ‘Cats with, two things are certain – they’re going to continue to enjoy a game that is a constant in American history and savor the chemistry they have established since their first indoor practice this past winter.

The Wildcats, playing with a high baseball IQ for most of the game and turning back a seventh-inning rally by St. Edward, defeated the Eagles for the second time this spring, 4-3, on Wednesday evening in atmosphere-rich All Pro Freight Stadium.

Saint Ignatius, which also owns a 5-4 victory over St. Edward in All Pro Freight Stadium, won for the 10th time in 15 games against a demanding schedule. And it will only get tougher as the Wildcats strive to be at the top of their game when next month’s OHSAA tournament play rolls around.

“I’m just really proud of these guys,” said Saint Ignatius’ eight-year head coach Brad Ganor. “It’s unselfish baseball. Executing the small ball and dinking and dunking a little bit. It is fun baseball to coach – fun to be putting things on (sacrifice bunts, steals, hit and run, etc.) and letting them run around a little bit. It’s having a game plan and executing it.”

The Wildcats executed from the get-go on Wednesday, as standout junior second baseman Dan Rowbottom went far to his right behind second base and, in one motion, fielded a ground ball that was ticketed for center field and fired a strike to junior first baseman Mike LaManna for the second out in the top of the first inning.

Senior right-hander Matt Hoyer, who improved to 4-0 on the season, threw just four pitches in his 1-2-3 first inning. Saint Ignatius’ veteran pitch