*CONGRATULATIONS GO OUT TO WILDCATS SENIOR PADDY SPELLACY, WHO WAS SELECTED AS THE PLAIN DEALER’S HOCKEY PLAYER OF THE YEAR, TO COACH PAT O’ROURKE ’90, WHO WAS CHOSEN AS THE PD’S COACH OF THE YEAR AND TO SENIORS LIAM GEITHER AND MATT KOVESDY, WHO JOINED PADDY ON THE PLAIN DEALER’S SEVEN-COUNTY ALL-STAR TEAM.
ROLLE STRIKES OUT 11 IN SIX COMPLETE INNINGS AND POLAR BEARS RIGHT-HANDER MIKE COOPERIDER LIMITS SAINT IGNATIUS TO TWO HITS.
BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT MARCH 2012
Jackson Township - Tuesday evening’s season opener at Massillon Jackson didn’t turn out the way Tom Rolle and his Saint Ignatius teammates would have liked it to.
However, if Rolle continues to pitch the way he did in the Polar Bears’ impressive baseball facility, head coach Brad Ganor and pitching coach T. J. Donovan '94 will be grinning from ear to ear all spring.
Making his varsity debut, Rolle, a junior left-hander, struck out 11, issued just one walk and yielded three runs on four hits as the Wildcats couldn’t generate an offensive attack and fell to Jackson, 3-0.
Polar Bears senior right-hander Mike Cooperider, who was pitching from behind in the count for most of the game, yielded just two hits en route to throwing 100-plus pitches and going the distance.
“He did a phenomenal, phenomenal job,” said Coach Ganor of Rolle, who had a stretch that saw him fan 10 of 11 batters, including seven in a row. “We gave up three runs, but it should have only been two. Tom just did a fantastic job in his first start.”
Coach Donovan, who might have found his No. 1 starter, emphasized that Rolle threw just 74 pitches and had four 11-pitching innings.
As impressive as Rolle was, there just wasn’t any offense coming from the Wildcats’ wood bats.
Jackson, under the direction of head coach Bill Gamble, got the only runs it needed in the bottom of the second inning. With one out and nobody on base, the Polar Bears combined a walk, a wild pitch and RBI gap doubles by senior first baseman Quinn Bender and junior designated hitter Andrew Stalnaker into a 2-0 lead. There were only one or two pitches that were hit hard off Rolle the entire game.
It stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth when a fly ball that Coach Ganor said probably should have been caught dropped in for a double off the bat of senior shortstop Jeff Edwards. The final run came around to score on a two-out single up the middle by senior third baseman Aaron Hoffman.
Between the second and sixth innings, Jackson couldn’t touch Rolle, as Tom retired the Polar Bears in order in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
After ending the second inning with two strikeouts, Rolle fanned two batters in the third inning and struck out the side in the fourth and fifth innings.
“You can’t ask for anymore, I mean that’s what you are looking for,” Coach Ganor said while discussing Rolle’s numbers.
As far as the lack of offense, Coach Ganor said he is confident that his Wildcats are a good hitting team.
“Over the first three scrimmages we hit the ball so well and today was disappointing,” Ganor said. “He’s not the best pitcher we’re going to face all year and it seemed like we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities with runners on and runners in scoring position.”
Saint Ignatius had runners on first and second with one out in the top of the third, only to watch that threat wiped out by a double play. In the top of the sixth, junior left fielder Conor Hennessey lined a one-out base hit to left-center field and, with his speed, turned it into a hustle double. But Conor was stranded at third base after the next two batters grounded out.
“With 2-0 and 3-1 counts, we weren’t doing anything,” said Coach Ganor. “And those are pitches we have to hit on the screws.
“We’re a very good hitting team, we’re going to be fine,” Ganor continued. “But we have to have a short memory and get ready for tomorrow.”
The Wildcats travel to Twinsburg on Wednesday for a 4:30 match up with the always capable Tigers. Junior right-hander Kyle Pluta is expected to start for the ‘Cats.