Monday, June 17

    Big inning leads Kirtland to win over Cuyahoga Heights

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    A five-hit, seven-run third inning led Kirtland to a 12-2 five-inning win over Cuyahoga Heights on Wednesday.

    With the win, the Hornets improved to 6-0 on the year.

    “I thought we played very well in all aspects of the game,” said Kirtland coach Luke Smrdel. “These guys are having fun, supporting each other constantly, and are locked in for every game. Hopefully, this continues as the season goes on.”

    The Hornets, who have outscored their opponents through six games, 79-18, were forced to play from behind after the Red Wolves plated a run on one hit and a walk in the top of the first.

    Kirtland tied the game in the bottom half of the inning when Gino Blasini drew a one-out walk, stole second, and moved to third on a passed ball. He scored on Lucci Cantini’s sacrifice fly.

    The Hornets tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the second.

    Macguire Boyd was hit by a pitch to start the inning and Carter Luzar singled. Both runners advanced on a passed ball and Max Paul hit a sacrifice fly that gave Kirtland a 2-1 lead. Nate Chuko followed with an RBI single.

    After Cuyahoga Heights scored an unearned run in the third, Kirtland broke the game open with its seven-run inning.

    Cantini doubled to start the rally and Jack Turk was hit by a pitch. Paul hit a two-out RBI single and Chuko drew a walk. Trip Thaler followed with an RBI single, Blasini singled home two more runs, and Tyler Turk reached on an error that allowed Blasini to score. Cantini followed with a two-run single that left Kirtland in the lead, 10-2.

    “In that inning, we scored all our runs with two outs,” Smrdel said. “We always talk about approaches at the plate and situational hitting, and to see it happening this early in the season is great.”

    Kirtland added two runs in the fifth to secure its run-rule victory.

    Xavier Lasecki doubled and scored on a wild pitch and Thaler, who reached on an error later in the inning, ended the game when he also scored on a wild pitch.

    Cantini ended the day 2-for-2 at the plate with a run scored and he knocked in a team-best three runs.

    Thaler, Blasini, Luzar, Paul, Chuko, and Lasecki each recorded one hit for the Hornets.

    Chuko picked up the win after allowing one earned run on five hits with seven strikeouts in four innings of work. Lasecki threw one inning of relief and allowed one hit.

    “Nate pitched well,” Smrdel said. “He got in trouble a few times but worked out of it. He had a rough outing last time he pitched, so this was a fantastic bounce back to give him confidence moving forward.”

    Kirtland hosts Perry on Thursday.



    Steve Hare
    Steve Hare
    The creator and publisher of, 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, a member of the network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. was created in 2004 and was a member of the 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.

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