Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
August 26, 2018
The Kenston baseball team put four runs across in the top of the fifth inning to even the score, but it wasn’t enough to defeat Division I state No. 17-ranked St. Ignatius on Friday evening at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
A trio of singles by senior Patrick Persichetti, sophomore Jon Tomcufcik and junior Jason Vasil sparked the Bombers’ offense, but St. Ignatius responded with two runs in the bottom of the fifth for the eventual 7-5 victory in a shortened five-inning affair.
In an effort to make substitutions freely for maximum participation at the major-league ballpark, both clubs agreed to play the game as scrimmage, which was part of the 15th annual Cleveland Indians Charities High School Hardball Classic. Both teams utilized five pitchers.
Also taking part in the classic on Friday, fellow Western Reserve Conference foe Eastlake North defeated Bay Village, 3-2, and Division II state No. 12-ranked Chagrin Falls punished Revere, 12-3.
All six schools that competed had to purchase $2,000 in Hardball Classic tickets.
Established in 1989, the CIC is a self-sustaining organization that has donated more than $10 million to youth-oriented agencies in Northeast Ohio.
Kenston entered the exhibition game with a 7-5 record, while the Wildcats came in at 6-3. St. Ignatius took a 4-0 lead with a run in the first and three runs in the second, before the Bombers were able to respond in the top of the third.
After going down 0-2 in the count, Kenston sophomore captain Tyler Mintz had a good enough eye to draw a walk out of the leadoff spot to start the inning. Mintz didn’t have any hits in four plate appearances, but he got aboard three times and scored twice – he also reached base on a dropped third strike in the first inning and a Wildcat error in the fifth inning.
With Mintz on first base in the third inning, two-hole batter Persichetti laid down a bunt single to third base, and then senior Matthew Pecoraro walked to load the bases, before five-hole batter Tomcufcik plated Mintz on a groundout to third to cut the Bombers’ deficit, 4-1.
On the mound, meanwhile, Kenston senior Mike Koniar pitched two innings of solid relief, shutting out the Wildcats in the bottom of the third and then surrendering one run in the fourth for a 5-1 ballgame – before the Bombers’ offense ignited in the fifth.
Again leading off the order, Mintz got aboard on an error by Wildcat pitcher Nathan Hubbard, Persichetti lined a single to center and Pecoraro drew another walk to load the bases. Senior captain and cleanup batter Matthew Cassaro then reached base on an error by Wildcat third baseman Michael Holdsworth, allowing Mintz to score and cut the deficit, 5-2.
Tomcufcik and Vasil then hit back-to-back singles to make it a 5-4 ballgame with no outs and the bases still loaded, before Ignatius’ defense gathered a pair of force-outs at home. Kenston senior Stephen Szczesniak then drew a six-pitch walk out of the nine-hole to even the score, 5-5, before the Wildcats could get out of the inning.
St. Ignatius’ offense answered with two runs on three walks, a hit by a pitch and fielder’s choice grounder in the bottom of the fifth inning, however, and that was all she wrote in a 7-5 triumph for the Wildcats.
Returning to league action on Monday, Kenston got back to its regular lineup to defeat Eastlake North, 6-3, on the road and improve to an 8-5 record, including a 5-2 mark in the WRC. Putting in 3 2/3 innings of work on the mound, Persichetti improved to 3-0, while Szczesniak picked up his third save.
The Rangers, who dropped to 3-10 with a 2-2 mark in the league, took a 1-0 lead on Brian Stergar’s solo homer to center on a 2-2 count out of the eight-hole in the bottom of the second inning. Persichetti then left two Rangers stranded by catching a batter looking for one of his five strikeouts to get out of the inning.
The Bombers responded with two runs in the top of the third, when sophomore Chase King led off the inning with a single up the gut out of the seven-hole, Koniar lined an RBI double to center and Szczesniak attacked the first pitch of his at-bat for another RBI double, before North pitcher Seth Higham was able to retire the Bombers’ next three batters on three groundouts.
After Persichetti retired the Ranger batters in order on two pops and a flyout on eight pitches in the bottom third, the Bombers’ offense went back to work for four more runs and a 6-1 lead in the top of the fourth.
Cleanup batter Cassaro led off the order with a walk, Vasil singled on a flyball to left and Tomcufcik hit a two-RBI triple to center to force a pitching change. King then scored Tomcufcik on a sacrifice fly to center, Koniar got hit by a pitch and Szczesniak banged him home on a single to center for the 6-1 upper hand.
The Rangers got two runs back in the bottom of the inning with a mini two-out rally of three consecutive hits, but that was all they could muster in an eventual 6-3 victory for the Bombers.
Kenston sophomore JD Miller pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, giving up one hit and one walk with two strikeouts, before Szczesniak shut things down in the seventh on two ground-outs, a walk and a strikeout.
Up next, the Bombers play a two-game series against WRC foe Brush, hosting the Arcs at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, before traveling to their diamond at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
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