Berea, Ohio - Coach Brad Ganor's Wildcats improved to 6-2 and extended their winning streak to four games with an OHSAA run-rule deficit victory over the Mustangs, who were last season's Division I State Runners-Up to Massillon Jackson.
The game was called in the bottom of the sixth inning after Saint Ignatius scored its 10th run off another authoritative hit by multi-skilled junior third baseman Matt Ferritto. Matt was 3-for-3 with three RBI on what was a sunny and mild late afternoon and early evening at Baldwin Wallace University's atmosphere-rich Fisher Field.
Strongsville, which slipped to 5-5, watched Saint Ignatius dominate in every phase of the game.
Senior left-hander Tommy Grosel, who improved to 2-0 on the young season, shutout the always offensive-minded Mustangs on 69 pitches. Tommy yielded five hits in going the distance, struck out five, scrapped a little shoe polish off a Mustang for a hit batsman and did not issue a walk.
The Wildcats' offense gave Grosel all the support he needed by banging out 10 hits and continuing its savvy base running.
Saint Ignatius' defense also brought smiles of approval from Coach Ganor, his veteran Assistant Coaches Mark Terlep and John Whelan, and the 'Cats' baseball savvy Team Managers/Stats Men Dominic Caserio and Seamus Hough.
The Wildcats were also supported throughout the game by their brothers from the Wildcats State and Nationally recognized Rugby program.
HERE IS A CORNER'S VIEW OF SOME OF FRIDAY'S KEY MOMENTS AND HIGHLIGHTS FROM FISHER FIELD.
Setting the tempo early: With a runner at third base and one out in the top of the first inning, Tommy Grosel set down the next two Mustangs on a strikeout and a 1-3 putout.
Riding that momentum, the Wildcats took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and never released their command of the game.
After the keen batting eyes of junior left fielder/Nebraska recruit Michael Holdsworth and always in the game senior designated hitter JJ Conway drew walks, senior right fielder Jack Eyink and junior catcher Austin Jones delivered the big hits in leading Saint Ignatius to that above-mentioned 3-0 lead.
Can you hear the thunder, thunder?: In the bottom of the third inning, JJ Conway drew another walk and Jack Eyink, a young man who can handle many positions, including a key role out of Coach Ganor's bullpen, followed with an RBI double to the 375-foot mark in left-center field. Jack's blast scored pinch runner Matt Geraci, who was coming off a gutsy pitching performance in Wednesday's victory at Massillon Washington.
The "Web Gems" begin to surface: After Strongsville mainstay Jack Frank singled off an 0-2 pitch to lead off the top of the fourth inning and advanced to second on a throwing error, Grosel responded with another strikeout and gifted sophomore shortstop Michael McNamara, in one motion, leaped in the air, snagged a looping liner behind second base and came within an inch or two of doubling Frank off base with a sweeping tag.
Taking advantage: After Saint Ignatius loaded the bases on a line drive by Ferritto down the right-field line and walks to ever-present junior second baseman AJ Gaich and McNamara in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Mustangs came up with a 6-2 force at home plate.
The momentum of that 6-2 play was short-lived, however, as the Wildcats extended their lead to 6-0 when Strongsville threw the ball away while trying to complete a double play.
Finishing it off: After Grosel ended a threat in the top of the fifth off a strikeout with runners on second and third, Saint Ignatius senior Jordan Asimes drew a roar of approval from his teammates when he beat out a high chopper for a base hit in leading off the bottom of the fifth.
The Wildcats then flashed more leather in the top of the sixth, plays that saw McNamara make a nice catch off a fly ball that was tailing toward the left-field line, Ferritto charge the ball and in one motion fire a seed to first base and Jack Eyink run down a ball in foul territory past the right-field line. Ferritto also made a tough play look easy off a sharp hop 5-3 for the first out in the top of the fifth.
Saint Ignatius, which is scheduled to host the Brunswick Blue Devils today (Saturday) at 2 PM on Fisher Field, wrapped up their third game in what is a four games in four days stretch by setting the table with consecutive singles from McNamara, Holdsworth and Conway. The Wildcats then finished it off on a two-RBI hit by Jones, a walk to Leo Eyink, Jack's brother, and RBIs courtesy of senior center fielder Evan Henry and Ferritto.
Although last season is history, no one had to remind the 2018 Baseball Wildcats that Strongsville defeated Saint Ignatius twice last year, both in the regular season and in the Strongsville Division I District Championship Game, which was played at Strongsville High School.
From Coach Ganor: "The kids were excited for today. When you play good teams, you play at a different level and they did that today.
"Tommy was great, he threw a ton of strikes and pitched like a senior," Coach Ganor continued. "It was a great offensive day by Matt Ferritto, Austin Jones and Jack Eyink. A lot of guys did a lot of good things offensively. I am so proud of them this week, and we have one more tomorrow."
From Matt Ferritto: "We really wanted to beat this team," said Matt when this reporter made a reference to last season's District Championship Game. "We had a lot of energy and this is one of the big games that we really focus on.
"We've been working a lot offensively," Matt added about the way the Wildcats' bats have come alive during the four-game winning streak. "We are putting the ball in play and making things happen. And situational-wise, we've been able to get runners on and get them in."
A humble and classy young man, Matt assured this corner that he welcomes the challenge of any position Coach Ganor calls on him to fulfill, whether it is in the field or on the mound.
In closing, this old-timer would like to tip his cap to senior Play-By-Play man Gabe Liberatore and potential SIBN Rookies of the Year, Bobby Gerome and Kurt Pickering, for their wonderful work broadcasting the Strongsville game.
Have a great weekend and if Mother Nature doesn't throw us one of her wicked change-ups, we'll see you at Fisher Field. Along with today's (Saturday) 2 PM Varsity Game versus Brunswick, yours in Wildcats sports is looking forward to watching and reporting on the Junior Varsity Cats. They are scheduled to take Fisher Field at high noon.