For the second straight game, the Wildcats have a walk-off win at Brookside. After a thrilling 3-2 comeback vs. St. Xavier on Saturday night, the Cats again found a way to win late in a ball game with a 5-4 walk-off win vs. Chagrin Falls Wednesday night. Freshman Sawyer Solitaria notched his second walk-off hit of the season, the first coming against St. Edward earlier this season. As the playoffs draw closer, the Blue and Gold appear to be primed for another state championship run.
Micah Murtha was on the mound for the Wildcats as the junior hurler’s last start came last week in the bullpen game vs. St. Vincent-St. Mary. Murtha began the game strong for the Cats as he would only throw ten pitches while striking out two Tiger batters in a 1-2-3 opening frame. Chagrin Falls would strike first as the lead-off batter would make his way home after a Tiger batter grounded into a double play in the top of the second.
The Wildcats would come back in the bottom half to tie the ballgame at one as the Cats didn’t need a hit. After two walks and a hit by pitch, the Wildcats loaded the bases with one down in the second. Catcher Cole Jones grounded into a fielder’s choice to bring Anthony Paskell home to tie the game.
Murtha came back after allowing one run in the second and was nearly untouchable. In the fourth inning, Murtha struck out the side. Murtha would retire six straight Tiger batters until a single snapped that streak in the fifth inning. Murtha went five innings, striking out five, allowing four hits and one earned run.
“I just had to go out and throw strikes,” Murtha says. “I have a great defense behind me, they made some great plays, so I just had to throw strikes and let them make plays.”
In the top of the third inning, the Wildcats took their first lead of the night as a frozen rope by senior Luke Roggenburk made its way to right field to score Billy Adams on an RBI single. With great pitching and defense from both squads, the score would remain 2-1 Wildcats heading into the sixth inning.
In the top half of the sixth, Chagrin Falls got a rally started with a single and back-to-back walks. With patience at the plate, the Tigers walked home the tying run and looked for more with the bases loaded. Roggenburk came in for relief with a difficult task on hand, trying to record the final out and keep the score tied at two. Roggenburk would do just that as he would have the Tigers ground out to avoid any more damage.
During the winning streak, the Blue and Gold have been a resilient bunch and continued in the bottom half of the frame. After an error by the Tigers, Solitaria reached base safely, allowing John Panstares to come in as a courtesy runner. Gip Controy advanced Panstares on the sac bunt, and the pinch hitter Noah Brazytis would smack a line drive into left field, bringing home the go-ahead run. Max Palinski would add insurance with a fly ball to center to score courtesy runner Josh Putka from second on the RBI double. With a 4-2 lead heading into the seventh, the Cats were looking to close the door.
Chagrin Falls sought to play spoiler in the seventh as they would not go down without a fight; even after a double play, the Tigers were ready to string together a pair of hits to extend the ballgame. Back-to-back singles by the Tigers put Roggenburk in a difficult situation. The Tigers would tie the game at four with a two-RBI double. Roggenburk get out of the inning as Chagrin Falls would leave the go-ahead run stranded at third.
For the winning streak to continue, the Wildcats needed to walk off for their second straight game. Nard would get the rally started with a lead-off single. With back-to-back ground outs, Nard worked his way over to third base. With two down in the inning, Solitaria stepped up to the dish.
Solitaria, although a freshman, is accustomed to the moment with a walk-off earlier in the season. With a 2-0 count, Solitaria geared up for the fastball, and he didn’t miss it. Solitaria shot the ball up the third baseline for the walk-off win against the Tigers.
“We had a guy on third and I was just looking for a pitch to hit,” says Solitaria. “I hit the ball hard, and it got through for the win.”
The Wildcats win streak now stands at 13 and they will look to continue the streak Thursday under the lights against the Tallmadge Blue Devils at 7 p.m. from Brookside Reservation. The SIBN will have live coverage beginning with the JV game at 4:30 p.m. A handful of regular-season games remain for the Wildcats as they make the final tune-ups before tournament play begins next week.