NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Oh - The Saint Ignatius Varsity Baseball Wildcats traveled to North Ridgeville High School with a trip to the State Tournament on the line. Their opponent, the Sylvania Northview Wildcats.
Saint Ignatius was the away team in the matchup and would step to the plate first, looking to continue their scoring streak in the first inning of playoff games. Unfortunately, the line would end and Sawyer Solitaria came out to the hill. The right-handed Sophomore would allow two Northview hitters to reach but induced a fly-out to end the threat.
With two out in the second, Andrew Apanasewicz walked, Micah Murtha singled and Carson Herman walked to load the bases. However, the threat passed as Pauly Mancino popped out to end the frame. After a one-out runner reached for Northview, a line drive single scored him and put the Cats down for only the second time all postseason after two.
Anthony Paskell led off the inning with a walk before Billy Adams crushed a double that would have tied the game had Paskell not been caught stealing two pitches earlier. Adams advanced to third on a sacrifice fly but could not score for the Wildcats. Solitaria bounced back in the third, only allowing one runner on a two-out walk.
Both pitchers continued their dominance in the third, with Northview pitcher Blake Bradford retiring the Cats in order and Solitaria doing quick work.
Paskell hit a two-out single in the fifth but could not score. Solitaria came back out for his fifth inning of work and the Northview lineup finally figured him out. A leadoff single was followed by a triple that just got past a diving Paskell in center field. Another run scored on a passed ball, and a walk followed, ending Solitaria's night and making way for red-hot reliever Liam Baker. Baker continued his phenomenal postseason run, getting three outs on four pitches and ending the threat.
Gabe Nard led off the sixth with his second triple in as many days and Solitaria scored him on a sacrifice fly to put the Cats on the board. Max Palinski followed that up with a single but was left on base after two groundouts. Micha Murtha came in the sixth for his final high school outing and had arguably his best outing, retiring Northview 1-2-3 and striking out two.
Saint Ignatius was down to their final three outs with the season on the line. Pauly Mancino laid down a signature bunt single to get the inning going and a pitch would hit Paskell to put the go-ahead run at the dish. With two outs in the inning, and Northview's pitcher Bradford at 108 pitches, Northview intentionally walked the red hot Nard to bring up Solitaria. Solitaria struck out swinging to end the game and the Wildcat season.
It was quite the season for the boys in Blue and Gold, making it to the OHSAA Regional Final for the first time since the 2019 season. Sawyer Solitaria was named to the 1st Team All-Ohio team and would finish the season with a .385 average and 29 RBIs. Anthony Paskell was an honorable mention, hitting for .385 and leading the team in stolen bases with 18.