CLEVELAND, Oh - The Saint Ignatius Baseball Wildcats played a few games this past weekend, going a perfect 3-0 and playing some fun, competitive baseball. On Thursday, the Cats played Mayfield for the second time this campaign, then Notre Dame Cathedral Latin on Friday and wrapped it up with a contest against Avon Lake on Saturday.
On Thursday, the Cats traveled to Mayfield, who they had beat 12-5 earlier in the season on April 10th, and got the bats going early. The first batter of the game, Gabe Nard, went deep for the fourth time this season and gave Saint Ignatius the early lead. Two batters later, Anthony Paskell singled before Sawyer Solitaria's turn to hit one out, tying Nard with a fourth homer this season and increasing the Wildcat lead to three. Junior right-hander James Corrigan took the hill for his second start of the year and, despite a one-out single, retired Mayfield to end the first.
Both teams went quickly in the second inning, with a two-out Billy Adams single being the only runner to reach base.
Both Andrew Apanasewicz and Max Palinski walked in the third, but Mayfield pitcher Denis Viccharelli fought out of the inning. Corrigan retired the Mayfield hitters 1-2-3 and held the Saint Ignatius lead.
Carson Herman led off the fourth with a single and Adams was hit by a pitch, but Saint Ignatius could not plate any runs as Vicchiarelli got out of his second jam in as many innings. Corrigan walked the first Mayfield batter before inducing a fly-out followed by an inning ending double play.
Palinski singled in the top of the fifth, but the Cats went quiet after that. Mayfield finally got on the board in the bottom of the inning when, with runners on second and third, a line out allowed a Mayfield player to score. Corrigan battled out of the inning to finish his day. In five innings, Corrigan gave up two runs; one earned on two hits, one walk and struck out five.
The Wildcats added big insurance runs in the sixth as singles by Herman, Nard and Paskell loaded the bases with two outs for Solitaria. He doubled to center, scoring all three and collecting his fifth RBI of the ballgame. Junior Ponch Gaich pitched in the sixth and seven, mowing down the Mayfield Wildcats and sealing the game for the Cats.
On Friday, the Cats returned to Talty Field for a contest that was a full-blown pitchers duel as the Wildcats Gabe Nard and Notre Dame Cathedral Latin's Samuel Slodic.
Nard hit the first batter he faced in the first but retired the next three Lions. Slodic ran into early trouble when Paskell singled and Solitaria reached on an error, but he struck Palinski out to escape the jam.
Nard allowed only a walk in the second and retired the last three Lions. Red-hot Apanasewicz lasered a double to start the inning and Herman moved Putka, the courtesy runner for Apanasewicz, to third. Pauly Mancino roped a single over the second baseman giving the Cats the early lead. Pauly wasn't done, as he stole both second and third before a Gabe Nard ground-out drove him home.
Nard came out firing again, striking out the first two batters he faced and inducing an inning-ending ground-out. Saint Ignatius got another two on base in the third, but Slodic could battle out of the inning.
The fourth inning proved to be trouble for Nard as a walk followed by two infield singles loaded the bases with two outs. As he had done all evening, Nard turned to his breaking ball and struck a Lion out to end the inning. "The slider and curveball were working," says Nard. "The fastball wasn't always in the zone, but I could fall back on those pitches." Pauly Mancino walked to start the inning but was picked off at second and the Cats could not get any runs in the fourth.
Both teams went 1-2-3 in the fifth as the Lions turned to Sam Hoffman to replace Slodic. Besides one single apiece, again, the ball clubs had a quiet sixth. The Lions would have one final shot in the seventh, but Liam Baker shut it down, retiring the side and sealing a Wildcat victory.
Avon Lake came down to Brookside Reservation on Saturday for a morning clash. Head Baseball Coach Brad Ganor gave Solitaria the start and he got a bit roughed up early. Two walks allowed the Shoremen's starting pitcher, Drew Graham, to double, scoring one. Sawyer battled out of the inning and got out with minimal damage. The Wildcats could only muster one runner via an Adams walk and were down one after one.
Solitaria settled down in the second, only allowing a walk but no runs. Graham was fully locked in, shutting down the Cats 1-2-3 in the second.
In the third, the Avon Lake leadoff batter reached on an error but was caught stealing by Tony Rice and Solitaria would retire the next two. Besides a Nard single, Graham again dominated the Cats, striking out two in the third.
In the fourth, Micah Murtha came in to relieve Solitaria and did quick work of the Shoreman, as the Cats needed to get the bats going quickly. That they did, as back-to-back singles put runners on the corners for Palinski. He laid down an excellent bunt allowing Paskell to score and tie the game. Coach Ganor then turned to his bench and he would be rewarded when Andrew Apanasewicz singled to put Saint Ignatius in front. They were not done as Apanasewicz scored on a wild pitch and Connor Gromen grounded out to drive a fourth of the inning.
Murtha returned for the fifth and continued his dominance, holding the lead. The Cats would plate two more when Jake Pfaff doubled to left and drove in Solitaria and Palinski. "I had to wait back and got a little bit under it, but it dropped," Pfaff explains.
Junior Ponch Gaich came in for Saint Ignatius and hurled a 1-2-3 five-pitch inning. Mancino got the ball in the final inning and would put the game to rest, confirming a 9-1 Wildcat winner.
The Saint Ignatius Baseball Wildcats are on a roll, winning their last five games, outsourcing opponents 45-16 in the span. A pivotal matchup against St. Edward lies ahead, and that game will be streamed on the SIBN live from Crushers Stadium in Avon on Wednesday, May 4.