For the first time this season, the Saint Ignatius varsity baseball team experienced defeat inside the friendly confines of Fisher Field.
As the darkness slowly creeped in at Baldwin Wallace on Tuesday, the Wildcats' ninth-inning comeback effort fell short after the Fighting Irish rallied to score four in the top half of the frame.
The Baseball Cats dropped to 12-4-1 on the year with a 4-2 loss to St. Vincent-St. Mary. The Wildcats return to action today against Benedictine, at Baldwin Wallace at 4:30 pm. Originally scheduled to be played at Progressive Field, the threat of rain changed the plan.
For nearly the full duration of Tuesday's cold contest at BW, each team struggled to generate much offense.
AJ Gaich led off the first with a single, but the Wildcats did not muster another hit until the fourth on a Nick Fletcher single, and then again until the eighth. Thanks to walks, the Wildcats had runners in scoring position in the first, third, and the sixth. But the Wildcats could not capitalize on eight walks in the first eight innings.
Saint Ignatius employed a committee of pitchers in a bullpen day. Andrew Mulhern allowed two hits, but struck out four hitters, in a 3-inning start. Fletcher struck out two in a quick fourth, Matt Geraci ripped through the fifth, Sam LaGuardia mowed down three in a row, two via strikeout in the sixth. Matt Ferritto then clipped three batters in a row, two by K, in the seventh.
With just five combined hits and no runs through seven, the contest required extra innings. Teddy Eyink struck out the side in the eighth after walking one. Michael McNamara singled to start the bottom of the eighth and Geraci walked, but the Wildcats could not generate any runs, forcing a ninth inning.
The Irish offense came alive in the eighth. St. Vincent-St. Mary loaded the bases with one out, via a walk, hit by pitch, and a single. Sean Wracher nearly worked out of the jam, throwing a nice 3-2 pitch on the outside corner. The Wildcats thought it was a strike, but the umpire did not concur. The walk broke the tie and initiated an Irish rally. The visitors tabbed three hits in four at-bats, plating three more runs. Freshman Gabe Nard stopped the bleeding with a strikeout, but the damage was done.
Despite the deficit, the Wildcats fought on. Erik Daugenti reached base on an infield single with 2 outs, keeping Saint Ignatius alive. AJ Gaich then walked, bringing McNamara to the plate. The Irish then threw two wild pitches, scoring Daugenti and getting Gaich to third. The red-hot McNamara clubbed a single to left, scoring Gaich and bringing the tying run to the plate in Michael Holdsworth. The senior walked, sending the winning run to the plate.
Unfortunately, the rally ended there, as the Irish induced a popout to end the marathon game, 4-2.
The loss marks the first defeat of the season at the hands of a Northeast Ohio foe. The Wildcats entered with a 10-0 mark against local foes, outscoring them by a margin of 78-10.
The Bengals and Wildcats will meet for the first time since 2017. Last year's contest was canceled due to weather. The Wildcats won the 2017 matchup, 3-2.
JV and Freshmen Games Postponed
The JV and Freshmen games vs. Uniontown Lake from Tuesday were postponed to a date TBD. Both teams return to action on Thursday at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, weather permitting.