From atmosphere-rich Fisher Field on the campus of Baldwin Wallace University.
Berea, Ohio - Coach Brad Ganor's 'Cats score three runs in the first inning and add two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth in improving to 5-2 and extending their winning streak to three games.
Andrew Mulhern, a gifted and composed junior right-hander, improved to 2-0 on the season by blanking the Lions on five hits. In going the distance, Andrew threw 87 pitches, issued two walks and struck out four.
After yielding a leadoff single to Lions left fielder Kyle Medves in the top of the first inning, Mulhern set the tempo by setting down the next three NDCL hitters.
Saint Ignatius then gave its oh so promising young pitcher some solid offensive support.
With one out and the bases empty in the bottom of the first inning, shortstop Michael McNamara, one of the top sophomores in all of Northeast Ohio, produced a double to the gap in deep right-center field.
Junior left fielder Michael Holdsworth, a Nebraska recruit who can also handle the hot corner, drew a walk and he and McNamara pulled off a double steal.
The bat of senior right fielder Jack Eyink then produced two runs and the Wildcats' bench was feeling the emotion. Some of the clever lines that come from the Baseball Cats and their coaches belong in a best-seller on America's Pastime. Creative, to say the least.
Saint Ignatius took advantage of walks to junior designated hitter Austin Jones, senior catcher and co-Captain Drew Asadorian and junior center fielder Luke Cooper in taking a 3-0 lead into the second inning.
NDCL, which slipped to 1-7 overall, was able to stay in striking distance thanks to some strong work out of its bullpen by sophomore Sam Urbanski.
Urbanski was able to prevent further damage in the bottom of the first inning. He struck out two and pitched around a double by Holdsworth in the bottom of the second and he retired the Wildcats in order in the bottom of the third and fourth innings.
The Lions' faithful who made the trip to Berea from Auburn Road in Chardon were back in the game after senior center fielder Jack Graycar and Medves started the top of the fifth inning with back-to-back base hits.
In what could be described as the key moment of the game, Coach Ganor made a visit to the mound to talk with Mulhern.
"I told him a couple of mechanical things that he could adjust," Coach Ganor said. "I said you know you have the heart of the order right now, but if you get a strikeout and a ground ball you're out of it."
Message heard, loud and clear, and message executed.
Mulhern, displaying the confidence and composure that he carried with him the entire game, got the next batter on a fly out to Holdsworth in left field and then coaxed a 6-4-3 double play.
"I think a lot of times with high school players and pitchers, specifically, you just have to give them a chance to take a deep breath, relax and regroup," said Coach Ganor. "He's a great pitcher and I reminded him of that. I told him let's not lose sight, you're pitching a great game and still have a shutout. Just keep battling, and he did."
Coach Ganor added that he was concerned with Andrew's pitch count in the fifth inning, that eighty was kind of his "threshold" at this point of the season.
"He seemed like he was going to get there quickly in the fifth, but he pitched a complete game," said Coach Ganor. "His last two innings were very efficient. He did a fantastic job."
And so did the Wildcats' offense in the bottom of the sixth, as the speed and base running of Cooper, a text book bunt by dynamic junior second baseman AJ Gaich that scored Cooper, back-to-back stolen bases in the inning by Gaich and an RBI single from Holdsworth gave Mulhern the five-run cushion entering the top of the seventh.
Gaich is now 9-for-9 in stolen-base attempts this young season.
Holdsworth and Jack Eyink helped key Saint Ignatius' eight-hit attack with Michael going 2-for-2 with two walks and Jack turning in a 2-for-4 evening that included a double and a single.
"I took my time and just finished it off," said Mulhern of his gutsy fifth inning and shutdown sixth and seventh innings.
"Honestly, just my fastball," Andrew continued when asked what pitches were constantly clicking for him against the Lions. "It's a great group of guys, everyone trusts each other. We're always solid in the field and it just never stops with the bats. It's a fun team to play for."
Up next in the Varsity Baseball Cats' four games in four days stretch is game three versus the Strongsville Mustangs today (Friday) in a highly anticipated measuring stick encounter on Baldwin Wallace University's Fisher Field. The first pitch is 5 PM and Saint Ignatius' big-game tested senior pitcher/first baseman and co-Captain Tommy Grosel (1-0) will take the mound for Coach Ganor.
Strongsville, the 2017 Division I State Runner-Up to Massillon Jackson, is 5-3 after sweeping Euclid, 10-0 and 27-2.
Just a suggestion, but with today (Friday) being a Free Day in honor of the perennial State Champion Ice Cats, why not spend a late afternoon/early evening giving the Baseball Cats some of the outstanding Student Body support that only comes from Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School. We'll see you there for the 5 PM first pitch.