Survive and advance. That’s what the Wildcats’ mindset is in the 2017 OHSAA Tournament.
In the second matchup of the season, Saint Ignatius did just that, defeating archrival St. Edward, 3-1, to advance to Friday’s District Final in the Strongsville District.
Like most games this season for the Wildcats, there were two parts to the win. The first part came early on the offensive side of the ball for Saint Ignatius. With two outs in the bottom of the first, Miami of Ohio recruit Ryan Jacobs faced off with Northwestern pitching recruit, Quinn Lavelle. Jacobs went yard to straight away center field to put the Wildcats on top, 1-0.
It’s the second year in a row Saint Ignatius has hit a home run off the Eagles’ ace in the playoffs. In last year’s District Title game, former third baseman and quarterback for the football team, Dennis Grosel ‘16, who was in attendance for Thursday’s game, went deep over the wall in right to clinch the District Title for the Wildcats. Jacobs’ home run also happened to be the team’s first of the season.
Jacobs’ dinger gave the Wildcats the lead early, which is always the goal in the postseason. However, a one-run lead versus the dynamic Lavelle is never safe. So with again two outs in the bottom of the third, Jacobs delivered again with an RBI double over the left fielder’s head, bringing home pinch runner Evan Steigerwald all the way from first.
In what is becoming the best one-two punch in the state, Wittenberg recruit Jack Siefert revved up the offense further in the third. He singled into right field and brought home the speedy Jacobs all the way from second to make it 3-0 Saint Ignatius.
Now onto the second part of the win. Adams surrendered a run in the top of the fourth, his first of the season, but was lights out otherwise. Adams had his stuff going early and often versus a young St. Edward lineup.
Coming off a complete game performance in the Sectional Final against Valley Forge, in which he struck out a career high 13 batters, Adams looked no different on Thursday at Strongsville High School.
An impressive 67% of Adams’ pitches were strikes and he threw 14 first-pitch strikes to the 26 batters he faced. In what turned out to be a pitcher’s duel, Adams got the better of his opposition. He ended up throwing his fifth complete game in the playoffs in his career. The Louisville recruit allowed just four hits, his first run of the year, one walk, and struck out seven Eagles in his first ever matchup with St. Edward.
Adams notched three one-two-three innings, and other than the one run let up by way of a Mark Mohnickey RBI single, no St. Edward runner got to third base.
The impressive Adams is a reassuring sign at this point in the season. With the offense supporting him, and Adams on the top of his game, the now 13-9 Wildcats may end up being a force to be reckoned with in a historic playoff run.
“We played a great, solid, all-around game,” Manager Brad Ganor said. “We had some great hits early on to give us that breathing room. Connor was fantastic other than making that 0-2 mistake that led to that run. He was just dominant as he should be as our number one guy for the last three years. He is just fantastic. Erik Demchuk played a fantastic game at third base. Drew (Asadorian) did a great job behind the plate calling a great game.
“We’re just proud of these guys extending the season one more day. It doesn’t mean that we’re done, but beating St. Ed’s feels really good.”
The Wildcats will now have to get past the 17-8 Strongsville Mustangs, who run-ruled the Normandy Invaders, 12-0, in the first District Semifinal game of the day. Jaret Beechy of the Mustangs threw a complete game of just 5 innings, giving up just one hit and striking out four Invaders. The win for the top-seeded Mustangs was highlighted by a 7-run third inning to break the game open.
Friday’s contest be a huge pitching matchup in the District Final. St. Bonaventure recruit Braydon Nelson will take the mound for the Wildcats, whereas Ohio University recruit Matt Brosky will toe the rubber for the Mustangs.
Saint Ignatius and Strongsville previously met back on Holy Saturday this year, where the Mustangs held off a late rally by the Wildcats to win 7-6.
The Saint Ignatius Broadcast Network will have the call of the 2017 Strongsville District Championship game between Saint Ignatius and Strongsville. Brendan DeVenney ‘17, Matt Harsar ‘17, and Matt MacKenzie ‘18 will be on the call as the Wildcats will look to win their third District Title in a row and advance to next week’s Bowling Green Regional Tournament.