Hornets roll in season opener


    Kirtland head coach Luke Smrdel didn’t have to wait long to find out how his team would fare in its first game and first real outdoor action of the spring.

    The Hornets beat host Euclid on Tuesday, 21-5.

    “That was a very productive first game,” Smrdel said. “We started out a little slow and we hit some bumps in the road early, down 3-2 heading into the third, but the bats came alive and we ran the bases well. I was very pleased with first game.”

    GameStop, Inc.Mike Zeuli drew a two-out walk in the top of the first and scored on the first of Owen Loncar’s three hits to give the Hornets an early 1-0 lead.

    Ryan Lipps opened the second with a walk and later scored on Andrew Hutton’s single to make it 2-0 but the Panthers responded with three runs on a walk and a single in the bottom half of the inning.

    Kirtland broke it open in the third with a seven run inning.

    Leadoff batter Joey Torok singled, Palmer Capretta then reached on an error and Zeuli, Loncar and Ben Stark hit back-to-back-to-back singles. Lipps then walked and Jimmy Pekar singled. Hutton drew a walk and Blake Andonian reached on a sacrifice before Torok collected his second hit of the inning. He scored on Capretta’s single to give the Hornets a 9-3 lead.

    They added three more in the fourth and pushed across seven in the fifth to invoke the run rule.

    Torok finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a pair of runs batted in.

    “Two of his hits were bunts down the third base line,” Smrdel said. “He has speed, put it down the line both times, one was safety squeeze and he got the guy in with two outs. He knows how to use his speed and get on base. That’s his goal for the year and he did a great job of doing that today.”

    Loncar also finished 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored and three RBI.

    “We all felt great out there,” Loncar said. “Mike, Ryan and Ben were all hitting the crap out of the ball along with the rest of the team. It was a great way to start the season.”

    Zeuli collected two hits, including a double and scored three runs. Stark was 2-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI. Pekar also collected two hits and Hutton finished 2-for-2 with two RBI.

    Tyler McCrory allowed two earned runs in four innings and struck out seven. Alec Ward put the Panthers down in order in the fifth.

    “It was could out and Tyler didn’t have his best sutff but he was efficient and threw strikes,” Smrdel said. “He got ahead of batters and got the job done. It’s good to see when doesn’t have his best stuff he can still get the job done.”

    Kirtland travels to Mentor on Thursday.

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    The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.