AVON, Oh - On Wednesday, the annual crosstown rivalry between the Saint Ignatius Baseball Wildcats and the Saint Edward Eagles saw a new rendition. It was a brisk game played at the home of the Lake Erie Crushers. The Wildcats came into the game riding high, carrying a five-game win streak, but could they keep it up against their bitter foes?
Despite the cold, the Cats came out of the gate hot as with Anthony Paskell on second; Sawyer Solitaria hit one off the centerfielder's glove to put the Cats up 1. The next batter, Max Palinski, singled, scoring Solitaria and pushing the lead to two after one. Junior Ponch Gaich started the game and pitched a single inning, striking out two and blanking the Eagles.
To start the second, Pauly Mancino laid a perfectly placed one-out bunt down the third baseline but could not be brought home. It was junior James Corrigan's turn to come on, and he also shut down the Eagles for two innings.
Eagles pitcher Grant Wilson would come out for his fourth inning of work, giving up only a Connor Gromen single. Wilson was an iron-man, pitching six innings and throwing 103 pitches for the Eagles. It was another junior on for Saint Ignatius, as Liam Baker toed the rubber and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, preserving the lead.
In every inning, the Wildcats recorded at least one hit and that stayed true for the fifth as Billy Adams led off the inning with a single but was ultimately stranded. The Eagles finally put runs up in the fifth, as Micah Murtha gave up two singles and two walks which the Eagles were able to score three runs on and took the late lead.
Connor Gromen kick-started the sixth inning with a one-out ground-rule double. Jimmy Gould singled to put runners on the corners. On a steal attempt, pinch-runner Sam Meyer slipped on his way to second, but the Eagles catcher threw the ball into the outfield, allowing Gromen to score and tie the game. Pinch hitter Jake Pfaff then gave the Wildcats the lead with a single, scoring Meyer. Mancino entered and held the lead going into the final frame, protecting a one-run lead.
In that final frame, the offense exploded, scoring seven runs. Solitaria, Palinski, Nick Frontino, Gromen, Mancino, Adams and Gabe Nard all scored, while Andrew Apanasewicz, Gromen, Nard, Adams and Solitaria all had an RBI. "Obviously, Saint Edward had just taken the lead, and my goal was to get on and hit a ball hard," says Gromen. "it worked and we got the victory." Nard was the one to end the game, as he shut down the Eagles in the final inning, giving Saint Ignatius the win over their arch-rivals.
The Cats have now won six straight contests, tying their longest win streak of the season and are riding high. With the playoffs being right around the corner, every game matters in the push for higher seeding as they take on Tallmadge on Thursday night. The Cats will return home to Brookside on Saturday at 11 a.m. to host Cardinal.