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Diamond Cats Remain Hot Heading Into May

By Eli Maistros '24, 05/02/23, 11:15AM EDT


The calendar flips to May for the final month of the regular season and the Wildcats find themselves amid a five-game win streak.

CLEVELAND, Oh - The Saint Ignatius Wildcats are on a hot streak right now, winning five games in a row and seven of their last eight. They played three games last week, saw ten different pitchers pitch, and took three dominant wins away. 
They kicked the week off on Tuesday, April 25, against the Wildcats of Mayfield at Baldwin Wallace University. Senior Ben Stavar was on the bump to start and kept up his impressive start to the season. In the first inning, he faced two in-scoring positions with one out but fought out, holding Mayfield scoreless in the first. 

The top half of the inning started when Pauly Mancino beat out an infield single and Max Palinski followed with a double to right center, moving Mancino to third. 

Sam Meyer came up and tried to lay a bunt down but popped it up foul, and Mayfield catcher Holden Cope made an incredible diving catch. However, Mancino tagged from third and beat Cope back to the plate to open the scoring on a sac fly to the catcher. 

The fun wasn’t done, as Jake Pfaff drew a walk and Jake Fix singled up the middle to drive in Palinski and give Stavar and the Wildcats a comfortable 3-0 lead after one. 

Stavar again allowed two runners to reach in the second but battled and hung another zero on the scoreboard. The Cats tacked another run on in the second when Mancino doubled, and the catcher missed the throw on a stolen base attempt, allowing Mancino to trot home. 

Stavar was excellent in the third and fourth innings, mowing down the Wildcats, while the Mayfield hurler did the same. Stavar’s final line was five innings pitched, four hits, three walks, five strikeouts and no runs allowed. 

The scoring re-opened in the fifth inning when Carson Herman walked, and Palinski doubled to drive him in. Meyer singled up the middle to score Palinski, making it 7-0. 

James Corrigan came on to close out the last two innings and did that exactly, striking three out and allowing only two baserunners, capping off the Wildcat win. 

On Thursday, April 27, the Wildcats were back at Talty Field at Brookside Reservation for a matchup with the surging Strongsville Mustangs in the first game under the lights this season. Mitch Tarnowski got the ball to start and after walking the first batter, he struck the next three out. Once again, Mancino reached to start the game and Palinski doubled to drive him in, giving the Cats the first lead. 

Collin Lange shut it down in the second inning, striking out two and the Wildcats were also held scoreless. Freshman Owen Mikin came in to pitch and struggled in the third, giving up a run after two hits and an error, but eventually settled down, finishing the third and the fourth innings not giving any more runs up. 

The offenses went quiet with the game tied, with Saint Ignatius pitchers Ponch Gaich and Christian Durny throwing two scoreless, setting the Wildcats up in the bottom of the sixth. With the lights on and the sundown, the energy was high at Talty Field, and the Wildcats were eager to take the lead.

Palinski led off with a walk and stole second to get into scoring position. With two down in the inning, Pfaff hit a bloop single into left-center to score Palinski and finally take another lead. Fix followed that up with a line drive that hit off the top of the shortstop’s glove and into the outfield to score Pfaff. 

SIBN Players of the Game vs. Strongsville: Jake Pfaff & Pauly Mancino

Mancino was called upon to close the game, striking two out and giving the Wildcats their fourth straight victory. 

The Wildcat wrapped the wild week up back at Baldwin Wallace University on Saturday, April 29, with an afternoon tilt against the North Ridgeville Rangers. Kent State commit Sawyer Solitaria toed the rubber first and put a zero in the first inning. 

In the bottom half, Palinski walked, Solitaria singled and a Pfaff base knock put Saint Ignatius up one after one. Solitaria and Ranger pitcher Gavin Padgett shut it down in the second. In the third, North Ridgeville pushed a run across on an infield single, which scored a run from third. Padgett kept the Cat bats quiet in the third and the game was tied up 1-1 after three. 

In the fourth, Nick Frontino led the inning off and cracked the code to Padgett in a big way. Frontino hit a frozen rope line drive to left, over the left fielder's head and the wall, crashing into the scoreboard for his first home run of the year. 

Liam Baker came into the game to pitch in the fifth and breezed past the Rangers, going 1-2-3 with two strikeouts. 

The Wildcats finally put a crooked number up on the board in the fifth when they loaded the bases and Pfaff drove a run in with a sacrifice fly. Frontino delivered again in the next at-bat, crushing a double to the gap, scoring two and making it a 5-1 ballgame. 

The Rangers squeezed two more across in the sixth on Baker, but he shut it down to give the Cats their third win of the week. 

A handful of regular season games remain for the Wildcats as the calendar shifts to May. This week the Cats have added Walsh Jesuit to the schedule as the Jesuit rivals will meet at Brookside on Wednesday, May 3, at Brookside Reservation at 5 p.m. This will kick off four straight games, with the Cats playing Gilmour Academy on Thursday, Solon on Friday and Brunswick on Saturday. All games will be streamed on the SIBN. 

SIBN Players of the Game vs. North Ridgeville: Nick Frontino