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Baseball Cats Enjoy a 3-1 Road Trip in South Carolina

By Eli Maistros '24, 04/18/23, 10:00AM EDT


Over Spring Break the Wildcats competed in the Southeastern Baseball Classic where they would go 3-1 in Hartsville.

HARTSVILLE, Sc - The Baseball Wildcats spent their spring break in Hartsville, South Carolina, participating in the Southeastern Baseball Classic for the first time since 2018. They played four games, winning three and earning a third-place finish in the tournament. Head Baseball Coach Brad Ganor described the trip as successful and the Wildcats will look to build on their success down south. 

The Cats kicked off their gameplay against Virginia powerhouse St. Paul VI. Coach Ganor gave the start to senior Liam Baker, and he was rolling early, striking one out and retiring the Panthers in order. 

Pauly Mancino and Max Palinski each walked to start the game and after Mancino scored on a balk, Sawyer Solitaria laced a single to the outfield, scoring Palinksi. Two groundouts put Solitaria on third base, where sophomore Nick Frontino singled to drive him in, making it 3-0 after one frame. 

Baker ran into some trouble in the second, as Jaime Perez reached on an error and Maddox Flatt's double meant two in scoring position with one out. Baker fanned the next Panther and made the next groundout, keeping the Panthers scoreless. 

Palinski singled with one out and Sam Meyer and Pfaff reached on a hit-by-pitch and single, respectively. Senior captain Carson Herman stepped up and blasted a fly ball to the centerfield wall, making it to third and scoring all three runners in the process. With Frontino up, Herman scored on a passed ball, putting Saint Ignatius up a touchdown after two innings. 

Baker walked the first two batters and eventually loaded the bases with another free pass. With the bases loaded and two outs, Perez chopped one over the pitcher's mound, which Frontino charged and fired to first to get out of the jam.

With two down in the bottom of the third, Mancino singled and Palinski worked a perfect hit and run, blooping the ball in front of the centerfielder, which allowed Mancino to score from first. Solitaria tacked on another one, blasting a ball off the wall, plating Palinksi. 
Baker had his way with Paul VI in the top of the fourth, striking the first two out before allowing a two-out hit but bouncing back and striking out the next guy, making it seven punch outs on the evening. 
The Cats added another when Frontino drove a ball to the wall scoring Herman after his single. Baker mowed the Panthers down to finish the game, striking out nine in the process and giving Saint Ignatius a mercy rule win. 
On day two, the Cats returned to take on eventual tournament runner-ups, Georgia Premier Academy (GA), a team stacked with Power Five commits and talents. On the mound for the Sox was 6'7" left-handed freshman R.J. Cope, whose fastball can get up to 88 MPH. 
The Wildcats were the away team and retired 1-2-3 in their opening half. Solitaria toed the rubber for the Wednesday affair and pitched a clean first inning, with help from web gems by junior Mitch Tarnowski and Frontino. Pfaff worked a long leadoff walk in the second, but three quick outs followed for the next three Wildcats batters. 
Solitaria coaxed a leadoff groundout, but the next batter reached on a Herman error. All-tournament team award recipient Keith Turner singled, and Cope blasted a ball down the line, scoring one. The next batter walked, loading the bases. 

Solitaria struck Shamaar McDuffie out, but the next Sox's groundball was not fielded cleanly by Pfaff, allowing the inning to continue. Tournament Home Run Derby Champion and South Carolina commit Raudi Rodriguez walked and Auburn commit Eric Guevara broke the game open with a monster double, increasing the lead to six. 

Backstop Dylan Murphy reached on an error, but nothing came from it in the third frame. Solitaria worked a scoreless 1-2-3 inning to end his night, giving a final line of three innings pitched, three hits, two walks and six runs, but none earned. 

The Wildcats started to get to Cope as Pfaff walked on four pitches and Herman was hit, putting two on with one out. Two flyouts ended the threat and senior Mason Brunecz entered the game to pitch. The Southpaw gave up one hit but retired the side to end the fourth. 

Murphy got the first Wildcat hit and Meyer got another. Mancino grounded a ball up the middle, but McDuffie made a great play to turn a double play, leaving pinch-runner Peyton Frontino at third. Frontino took home on a wild pitch, putting the Cats on the board. Palinski walked, stole second, and Solitaria doubled to cut the lead to four. 

SIBN Players of the Game vs. Paul VI: Carson Herman and Liam Baker

Pfaff walked for the third time and Herman also drew a free pass, ending Cope's night. McDuffie came on to pitch and induced a bases-loaded flyout from Nick Frontino to stifle the threat. 

It was lanky right-hander Collin Lange's turn to pitch, and besides a two-out walk, Lange worked out of the frame unscathed. Meyer ripped a two-out double in the top of the sixth but was thrown out trying to advance to third. 

Senior James Corrigan was the new pitcher, and his first pitch was a frozen rope toward first base that Tarnowski made an incredible diving catch on. Dale Sutton doubled in the next at-bat and Clayton Anderson hit a double of his own to make it 7-2 with one more inning to go. 

Mancio drew a leadoff, walked, and stole both second and third base, but the Wildcats could not score any runs and took the loss. 

The Wildcats were quickly looking to rebound in their next game and a Palinski reach on an error, a Solitaria single and a Meyer double helped them jump to a 2-0 lead early. Thursday's affair saw senior Ben Stavar take the bump for an early morning contest against the Cane Bay Cobras of South Carolina and his first inning was perfect, striking one out. 

Nick Frontino led the second off with a single but was thrown out trying to advance to third on Neal Bartone's single and the Cats kept it a two-score lead. Stavar sat the side down once again, recording six straight outs. 

Solitaria led off the inning with a walk and was plated on a Pfaff single. Nick Frontino got a hold of a high curveball and hit the base of the wall scoring Pfaff. Bartone's single put runners at the corners and Peyton Frontino drove his brother in with a seeing-eye single. Mancino kept the train moving, as his RBI double-scored two. Palinski doubled, scoring Mancino and Solitaria struck out to end the explosive frame. 

Stavar finally let a runner reach with a one-out walk but struck the next batter out and induced a fly out to keep Cane Bay scoreless. Two more were tacked on in the fourth, as Meyer scored on a passed ball and Josh Jenkins singled and scored on a Neal Bartone knock. 

Stavar finished his appearance in the fourth, not allowing a hit or a run and striking out four. The Wildcats were retired in order. 
Senior fireballer Ponch Gaich came in to pitch the fifth and struggled at first, allowing two walks and two singles, which scored Cane Bay's first and only two runs. Gaich struck two out and Bartone caught a runner stealing to get out of the frame. Neither team scored the rest of the game, with the Wildcats bringing Christian Durny to pitch two scoreless innings. 

The Cats played at 9:30 a.m. on Friday in a five-inning game once again against Cane Bay where Lange, Tarnowski, Brunecz, Corrigan, Owen Mikin and Mancino combined for five innings of one-run, one-hit ball. Mancino drove a runner in early with a double and Pfaff grounded a ball to the shortstop in the bottom of the fifth, allowing Solitaria to score the walk-off run and give the Cats a 2-1 win to close out their week. 

After the Spring Break trip, the Wildcats sit at 7-2 on the season as they return home to host the St. Edward Eagles on Wednesday at Brookside Reservation at 5 p.m. The Wildcats will play Massillon Jackson Thursday night before heading down I-71 South to compete in the Ohio Jesuit Tournament at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati this weekend. 

SIBN Player of the Game vs. Cane Bay: Ben Stavar and Nick Frontino