Playing on back-to-back days can be difficult, especially if travel is involved.
The Wildcats learned that lesson this weekend. The men of Ohio City dominated the Hoover Vikings on Friday at home, 12-2, before losing on the road to Olentangy Orange on Saturday, 7-2.
Even still, the Wildcats have plenty to be proud of entering a 3-game home stretch this week.
Perhaps one of the brightest spots is the offense's ability to make adjustments. The Wildcats' lineup has devastated opposing starters during the second and third time through the order, as demonstrated on Friday.
Trailing Hoover 2-0 entering the bottom of the fourth, the Wildcats' bats awakened with furious thunder. Nick Fletcher gave the Wildcats three solid innings, but a bases-loaded jam threatened to derail the game. Justin Sekerak ended the threat with a double play, limiting the Vikings to one run. In the bottom of the frame, the Wildcats orchestrated a 5-run rally.
Michael McNamara, Flynn Lenahan, and Danny Castenir loaded the bases with 2 outs. Jack Whelan walked in a run before Mac Boyle supplied a clutch 2-run single to right, giving the Wildcats the lead. Erik Daugenti scored two more with a line drive single to center, extending the lead to 5-2.
Back-to-back doubles by Leo Eyink and Castenir plated two more runs in the fifth, allowing Sam LaGuardia and Teddy Eyink more breathing room.
In the sixth, the Wildcats ended the game via run-rule. Lenahan and Luke Lashutka drew back-to-back RBI walks before Castenir delivered yet again. The junior rocketed a double to center for two more runs, giving him 3 RBI on the day. Jack Whelan finished off the scoring with an RBI single.
The rally showcased the Wildcats' offensive ability in the middle of games. This season, the men of Brad Ganor have scored 16 runs in the 4th inning, 15 in the 5th, and 20 in the 6th. In all, 51 of the team's 68 runs have been scored in the 4th-6th innings.
"I've seen it a number of times this year. One time through the lineup, our guys are off-balance a little bit," Ganor said. "The longer a starting pitcher stays in, they have a tendency of figuring them out. That was the case on Friday night, and why we scored 12 runs in three innings.
"We got great pitching from Nick and the relievers. It was great to see some guys who don't get regular playing time to produce, so you know you have depth, which is important. We're still trying to figure out exactly who the first nine will be, but it's important who the other guys are who can help you in different spots. Justin Sekerak coming in and getting the ground ball double play was huge. It could have been the turning point of the game. The offense opened up after that. It was a great team win."
Playing just 18 hours later, the Wildcats looked flat after the 2-hour bus trip to Columbus.
Olentangy Orange notched 4 runs in the third and 3 runs in the fourth to take control of the game. Meanwhile, the Wildcats' offense struggled to gain traction.
The Cats started to pick up momentum in the fifth. Connor Mays started off the rally with a 2-out single. Fletcher kept it going with a single to left. AJ Gaich was then hit by a pitch, loading the bases. With the bases juiced, Daugenti delivered. The junior lined a single to left, scoring Mays and Fletcher.
But the rally halted there with a groundout to second, and the hopes of a monster comeback fizzled.
And that's okay, as Ganor said.
"It was a case of jet lag. With the travel down there, it didn't seem like we found any energy, from the second we got off the bus. It happens. It's unfortunate. I'd rather see it happen at home, when you have solidified your spot among the best teams in the area," Ganor said. "When you have a chance to play outside of your area and a chance to make a name for yourself, so to speak, in a different part of the state, it would have been nice to do that. But we didn't.
"In the big picture, it doesn't matter all that much. It's about getting better. The guys were able to flush it pretty easily. I expect we'll be right back on track this week. I'm not concerned about where our team is. It was just one of those high school baseball games where we didn't play well and didn't have a lot of energy, and they did. That's the end of it."
To make matters worse, the bus broke down on the way home from Columbus.
But the Wildcats made lemonade out of lemons, making the most out of the delay. Some players skipped rocks on a nearby pond and others laughed and joked with the young kids who made the trip.
"Since our trip south, the leadership and the seniors have done a great job. The captains have done a great job. Everybody feeds off that," Ganor said. "So far, 10 games in, guys genuinely care for each other and want each other to do well."
Moving forward, the Wildcats have a busy week. The Cats will host Mayfield on Tuesday, Twinsburg on Wednesday, and Strongsville on Saturday. All games will be at Baldwin Wallace, and are weather-permitting, as always.
JV and Freshmen Sweep Doubleheaders
Also making the trip to Columbus, the JV and freshmen teams did well.
The JV Cats tallied two wins over Olentangy Orange, 9-7 and 13-2. Timmy Bulan tallied a bases-clearing double in the 13-2 win, while Gip Conry provided the game-winning runs off a double to center in the 9-7 triumph. Mcrey Socha earned the win on the mound with four scoreless innings in the first game of the twinbill, while Gabe Nard tossed a complete game in the second contest.
The JV Cats stand at 6-3 entering a 4-game week vs. Mayfield, Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, Brunswick, and Strongsville.
The Freshmen Cats also looked great in sweeping Olentangy Orange, 13-2 and 13-1. Seven Wildcats tallied 2 RBI efforts over the doubleheader. Brandon Uzi and Micah Murtha earned the wins, with Murtha allowing no earned runs across five innings.
The first-year Cats are now 7-2. The Wildcats have an action-packed week – at Mayfield on Tuesday, at NDCL on Wednesday, at Brunswick on Thursday, at BW vs. Strongsville on Saturday, and at North Royalton on Saturday.