The Baseball Cats move on to the District Final after a 6-0 victory over the Wadsworth Grizzlies on Tuesday afternoon. Gabe Nard and Luke Roggenburk combined to shut out the Grizzlies in the District Semifinal as the Wildcats get set to take on the Berea-Midpark Titans for the District Championship Thursday afternoon.
Nard is not a stranger to big games as he was the starter as a freshman in the Division I State Championship vs. Mentor in 2019. Nard got the nod to start his first postseason game since 2019. “Today was strictly business,” Nard explains. “We had our fun at practice, but once we got to the yard, we wanted to take care of business and get out.”
Nard was on a roll early, setting down ten straight Grizzly batters to open up the ballgame as the first hit for Wadsworth came in the top of the fourth. After the 1-2-3 first inning, the Wildcat batters were primed to take an early lead. After an error by the Wadsworth shortstop, Matt Giberti reached base safely. Looking to help himself on the mound, Nard stepped up to bat in the three-hole. The junior roped a single down the third baseline and with the wheels of Giberti, the single became an RBI as the Wildcats took a 1-0 lead in the District Semifinal.
The ball game would remain quiet on the scoreboard for the second and third inning with terrific pitching by the Grizzlies and Wildcats. After another 1-2-3 inning by Nard, the Cats bats were up in the bottom half of the third. Back-to-back singles lead off the inning for Saint Ignatius by John Panstares and Giberti. Billy Adams’ sac bunt moved the two baserunners into scoring position, setting up Nard for another RBI opportunity. Nard powered a fly ball into centerfield but right at the Grizzly Centerfielder; however, Pansatres used his speed to score on the sac fly, making the score 2-0. Anthony Paskell shot a double into left field, scoring Giberti and giving the Cats a 3-0 advantage.
Wadsworth would receive their first baserunner in the top of the fourth via a single by Kubilus. Nard worked around the trouble and got the Wildcats to the bottom half of the fourth without allowing damage. Nard gave up a lead-off walk at the top of the fifth but would retire the next three Wadsworth batters to end the inning and keep the shut-out in tack.
The Wildcats gave more insurance for Nard in the bottom half of the fifth. Max Palinski opened with a lead-off walk and Giberti singled into center field, giving the Wildcats two on with one away. Adams drove a fly ball into left field for a two-RBI triple as Adams’ bat stays hot in the postseason giving the Wildcats a 5-0 advantage. Nard would record his third RBI with an RBI ground out to score Adams from third. The Wildcats headed into the sixth inning with a 6-0 lead.
In the top half of the sixth is where Nard saw the most trouble from the Grizzlies day. Back-to-back singles allowed Wadsworth to strike. After a hit-by-pitch by Nard, the bases were loaded with two down in the inning. The inning ended uniquely with sophomore Dylan Murphy’s snap throw to first base that caught the Wadsworth baserunner off the bag, ending the inning by being picked off. This was Murphy’s third out via the snap throw this season, and the sophomore catcher continues his defensive dominance.
“He’s a phenomenal catcher,” Nard says. “It helps my confidence when I have a guy like that behind the plate.”
Nard would start the top half of the seventh, seeking the complete game shut-out. Nard would strike out the first batter he faced, but after back-to-back walks and his pitch count rising, Head Baseball Coach Brad Ganor made a move to his trusty right-handed pitcher Luke Roggenburk. Roggenburk would record the final two outs and striking out the last Wadsworth batter as the Wildcats walked away with a shut-out victory in the District Semifinal.
Nard was the winning pitcher going six ⅓ innings, allowing just three hits and three walks and striking out seven Wadsworth batters. Nard collected three RBIs with his bat in the win. “I’ve seen the ball better lately,” says Nard. “I can hit the fastball and curve; I’m feeling confident at the plate.”
The journey continues for the Wildcats as they’ll take on the Berea-Midpark Titans for the District Championship. The SIBN will have live video coverage with the first pitch at 5 p.m. from Brookside Reservation. The winner of the District Championship will represent Cleveland from Region three and play the winner of Strongsville/Brunswick in the Regional Semifinal at North Ridgeville High School. Berea-Midpark is the seventh seed and defeated the sixth seed Medina Highland 13-2 in the District Semifinal to advance to take on the Wildcats.