Published in The Geauga County Maple Leaf
May 6, 2021
The Kenston Bombers, a top-20 ranked team in the Ohio Division I High School Baseball State Rankings, faced off with the Eastlake North Rangers for a home game April 28. The contest, part of a two-game home-and-away series, featured two of the top high school baseball teams in Northeast Ohio.
Kenston has been sizzling all season, both on the mound and at the plate. The Bombers offense is led by senior Ryan Gilbert, an Indiana University baseball commit. One of the leading hitters in Northeast Ohio, Gilbert is batting .500 with four home runs.
Gilbert’s teammates have also been hot at the plate and on the mound. Michael Persichetti, Alec Kolenic and Ryan Miller are batting over .400, and Jake Vasil has an ERA of 1.36 and 35 strike-outs.
On this warm, late April day, Kenston’s hitters were scorching at the plate. While dominating both the offensive and defensive aspects of the game, Kenston won 16 to 1. All nine batters in its lineup had at least one hit.
“The boys came ready to swing the bat, and Jake Vasil pitched fantastic,” Kenston Head Coach Bob Ford said. “Ryan Gilbert added a little flair to the end of the game with that bomb.
“It was a good team effort today.”
Vasil was blistering on the mound, striking out seven in five innings of work.
“The ball felt good out of the hand today,” Vasil said. “I threw a lot of strikes. I got a lot of strike outs. It was a good all-around game.”
Ryan Gilbert had a strong game at the plate, going 3-4 with a double, home run and three RBIs. “I just try to keep it simple, hit the ball hard.” Gilbert said. “Usually they don’t pitch to me. Today they came at me. They probably regretted that one.”
Also leading Kenston’s offense on April 28 were Michael Persichetti (3-3), Shane Rothlisberger (3-4), Jake Vasil (2-3), Nikko Georgiou (2-3) and Alec Kolenic (2-4).
Both Vasil and Gilbert emphasized how important they value the 2021 season with their teammates during the time of the coronavirus.
“I think we took playing baseball for granted,” Gilbert said. “Now it’s fun just to be on the field with our teammates.”
“I think it really brought us together,” Vasil said. “Everyone’s having fun. We’re just having a good time.”
Added Coach Ford: “I couldn’t be happier for the boys to be playing this year.”
Eastlake North Head Coach Kyle Stahlberg said he is also grateful.
“We are very thankful to be playing baseball this season,” he said. “These guys were very excited all offseason to get back out here.”
And both coaches discussed the important mental game needed as they approach the playoffs.
“We have a really tremendous coaching staff,” said Ford, emphasizing that they help the players focus on the small details of playing the game the right way — a key for building confidence.
“That’s what’s keeping us in these one-run games,” he said. “They are getting used to winning those close games and playing good defense, and that’s what it will take when we get to the playoffs.”
After splitting the home and away series on April 26 and 28, both Kenston and Eastlake North stayed focused and picked up victories. On May 1, Kenston defeated Brush 16 to 1. Kenston’s offense was led by Ryan Gilbert (2-3), Michael Persichetti (2-3), Ryan Miller (2-3) and Parker Munday (2-3). Nikko Georgiou pitched four innings of scoreless baseball and struck out eight.
“We’re ready to go the rest of the season,” Ford said. “The boys are playing well, pitching well. We have picked up the pace, and now we really have the pace going in the right direction.”
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