Monday, June 17

    Blasini sparkles in Kirtland’s win over Grand Valley

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    Gino Blasini shut down Grand Valley’s offense and Lucci Cantini sparked Kirtland’s as the Hornets knocked off the visiting Mustangs on Tuesday, 4-0.

    Blasini allowed just two hits and struck out eight in a complete game shutout and Cantini hit a two-run homer in the third inning, closing out the scoring.

    “Gino was working the corners and keeping guys off balance,” said Kirtland coach Luke Smrdel. “His mindset is great, and it’s like watching an artist paint a picture when he’s throwing like that. He was focused in on every pitch of every at-bat. Gino knew how big of a game this was, and he got the job done like he usually does. Lucci crushed his first career home run. He’s been doing a fantastic job for us behind the plate and has done great learning how to be a good hitter at the varsity level.”

    Blasini gave up a single in the first, a walk in the fourth, and a single in the sixth. Only one other Mustang batter reached base on an error.

    “The key to shutting down Grand Valley was to go out and throw my game,” Blasini said. “I knew I needed to come in and throw strikes and let my defense play. I always have confidence in my defense to make plays.”

    Blasini threw just 84 pitches with 57 of them finding their mark.

    Kirtland’s offense gave him a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

    Trip Thaler led off with a single and Tyler Turk moved him to third with his one-out single. Cantini drew a walk that loaded the bases and Jack Turk followed with a two-run single.

    Turk started the fourth-inning rally with a leadoff single and Cantini homered to center on the next pitch.

    That’s all the offense the Hornets needed as they finished the game with four runs on five hits off Grand Valley ace Eric Ellsworth, who allowed four runs on five hits and struck out seven in six innings of work.

    Tyler Turk led the Hornets with his 2-for-3 day at the plate. He also scored two of Kirtland’s four runs. Thaler, Jack Turk, and Cantini posted Kirtland’s other three hits.

    “Our approaches were decent today,” Smrdel said. “Their pitcher kept us off balance and did a nice job. We struck out too many times and left a lot of runners on base, but it’s great to see even if we aren’t having our best day, that we have the ability to manufacture runs. A situational hit in clutch situations can be the difference in games like that.”

    With the win, Kirtland improved to 7-0 overall and 3-0 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division.

    Blasini is 3-0 in league games.

    “It’s really big confidence booster for the team and being able to be someone that the team can rely on is very important for me,” he said. “It’s also really important to win the first of the two conference games because it gives us a lot of momentum going into the next game and being able to stay confident.”

    Kirtland travels to Grand Valley on Wednesday.



    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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