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A Season Opening Win for the Diamond Cats

By Eli Maistros '24, 04/03/23, 3:30PM EDT


The Wildcats' bats came alive in the season opener and scored 15 unanswered to defeat Mason 16-5.

MASON, Oh - Finally, after three cancellations, the Baseball Wildcats took the field for opening day. They had to travel three hours south to Mason, Ohio, to take on the #2 team in the state, the Mason Comets. The Wildcats stood firm on the difficult task on a freezing and highly windy Saturday afternoon. 

Head Baseball Coach Brad Ganor's team did not have to wait long for the offense, as senior Pauly Mancino laced a double to the right-center field gap on the season's first pitch. Mancino then stole third base on the first pitch to Max Palinski, and the senior would cash him in on a groundout, as the Cats jumped out early. 

Liam Baker was the man to start on the mound for Saint Ignatius, trying to build off his tremendous junior campaign. The Comets were also ready to hit early on, as Ohio University commit Drew Cox hit a leadoff home run to knot the game back up at one. The next batter walked, and chaos ensued when both middle infielders for the Wildcats booted possible double-play opportunities, and a throwing error allowed two runs to score. Another run was added when Alex Koeling blooped a single into left field, making it 4-1 after one. 
Mason pitcher Bryce Brannon lost control to start the second inning, walking Sam Meyer and Jake Pfaff to put two on with no outs. Both runners moved into scoring position and Nick Frontino hit a sharp grounder to second base, which was booted and eventually thrown away, allowing Meyer and Pfaff to score. Down one, Dylan Murphy stepped up and blasted a ball to right field, which carried over the fence for a home run, plating two and putting the Cats back out in front.

Baker settled in during the second inning after a leadoff walk. He coaxed a flyout and a couple of groundouts to work out of the frame scoreless. 

The Saint Ignatius bats got cooking in the third inning, starting with a first pitch Sawyer Solitaria frozen rope single. Carson Herman walked and Meyer laced a single to bring one in. Pfaff then had a wild at-bat, fouling six pitches off and hitting an opposite-field single, plating another.

With two outs, the nine-hitter Jake Fix got a hold of a high fastball, sending it down the right field line for a homerun, putting the Wildcats in double digits and increasing the lead to 10-4. The Cats weren't done there; as Mancino walked, Palinski doubled and a Meyer single drove them both in. 
Baker came out for the bottom of the third, forcing a ground out, giving up a single, striking a man out, and walking Brad Hart before his night was over. Christian Durny came on in relief, inducing an inning-ending groundout. 

The Wildcats' offense kept clicking in the fourth, as a Pfaff single and two walks loaded the bases. Fix walked, increasing the lead to 11. With two outs, Palinski ripped a single to center, adding two more runs and a Solitaria single, which drove in one and ended the Cats' onslaught of scoring. 

Solitaria was brought to close the game out. Besides a Michael Murphy solo home run in the fourth, Solitaria was dominant, going two innings and striking out three to put a bow on this Saint Ignatius victory. 

On Monday, the Wildcats will take the field against North Royalton at Talty Field at Brookside Reservation.