TOLEDO, Oh - The Saint Ignatius Baseball Wildcats made the 90-minute journey to Toledo for the annual Ohio Jesuit Invitational Tournament. After falling to Solon the day before, the team departed early Saturday for Toledo and had a great weekend in the heat, going 2-0 and winning the tournament.
On Saturday, the Cats suited up at 11 a.m. for a tilt against the tournament's host, St. John's Jesuit. The runs came fast in this game, as Saint Ignatius put up four in the first inning without getting a hit. After Gabe Nard reached on an error and Billy Adams walked, Anthony Paskell bunted and the throw sailed over the first baseman's head, allowing Nard to score. Both Adams and Paskell would score on passed balls and Sawyer Solitaria would walk and score on Andrew Apanasewicz's sac fly. Ponch Gaich would take the hill for his third start of the season, and he would retire the first three Titans he faced.
The Cats kept rolling in the second as Nard singled before Adams launched a two-run home run, his first of the season. Paskell would follow that up with a double before walks loaded the bases. Apanasewicz would single through the left side and put Saint Ignatius up 7-0. Gaich ran into problems in the second inning as he would walk a run-in with the bases loaded, but he would escape any further damage with a pop-up.
Nard added to the fun with a third-inning solo home run to left-center. A passed ball would allow another Titan to score, shaving the Wildcat lead to six.
In the fourth, four-straight singles courtesy of Solitaria, Palinski, Apanasewicz and Pfaff would plate another Saint Ignatius run. Gaich would walk the first batter of the fourth before being replaced by fellow junior Liam Baker. Gaich exited with three innings pitched, two hits allowed, two runs, two strikeouts and six walks. The Titans would score three in the fourth, collecting four walks, and the Wildcats added two errors.
Saint Ignatius would score nine runs in the fifth to seal the game. The Cats offense collected six hits, four singles and two doubles, and six walks in the inning. RBIs came from Paskell, Solitaria, Palinski, Apanasewicz, Nick Frontino, Vincent Fabe, Tony Rice and Alex Sidloski. Due to the mercy rule, Baker would retire the Titans 1-2-3 to end the contest.
In the first tournament game, a total offensive onslaught from the Wildcats saw Saint Ignatius win 18-5. The Wildcats would now play a top-three team in the state, the Walsh Jesuit Warriors, in the tournament's finale.
Sunday's matinee started quietly as both teams would go 1-2-3 in their first trips to the dish, with Solitaria starting for the Wildcats.
The Cats would strike first in the top of the second as Palinski doubled before a throwing error would plate him. Carson Herman blooped a single into right field, scoring Micah Murtha, putting Saint Ignatius up two early. However, the Warriors would answer with two runs on three straight doubles.
The next three innings would see a combined one hit, a Palinski fourth-inning single, and no runs for either club.
The sixth inning opened up hot as Solitaria doubled to start the inning before Palinski was intentionally walked. Apanasewicz would blast a three-run home run out of the yard in left-center to give Saint Ignatius the lead. But as they had done before, Walsh Jesuit answered, scoring three of their own, via a Herman throwing error, a single and a wild pitch. Solitaria would be taken out with two outs in the inning and replaced with James Corrigan.
In the seventh, an Adams single, Paskell double and Solitaria intentional walk would load the bases and Palinski would walk, putting the Cats up. An Apanasewicz single and Herman walk followed, making it two straight innings with three runs. However, the Warriors kept fighting as they got another three, this time coming off of Gabe Nard. This game would need extras.
On the second pitch of the extra frame, Adams would go deep for the second time in as many days, hitting a solo home run, giving the Wildcats an extra innings lead. It would be a lead that Pauly Mancino would be called upon to protect, and he did just that, striking out two Warriors before fielding a comeback to the mound to end it.
The Wildcats had won the 2022 Ohio Jesuit Tournament, defeating the Walsh Jesuit Warriors 9-8 in extra innings. It was a thriller indeed and will give Head Baseball Coach Brad Ganor's team plenty of momentum heading into next week, where they will face Mayfield on Wednesday and Avon Lake on Saturday.