Hagan Hejduk pitched six scoreless innings as Grand Valley rallied to beat host Kirtland in a Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division showdown on Tuesday, 6-4.
Dane Sparks started for the Mustangs, who improved to 5-0, but gave up four runs in two innings. Hejduk entered the game in the third with Kirtland leading, 4-3.
“I knew I had to come into the reliever role and dominate them mentally,” said Hejduk.
The Mustangs struck first with two runs in the top of the first inning.
Hejduk, who finished 3-for-4 at the plate, started the rally with a leadoff single. D.J. Webb and Zach Hall both were hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out and Casey Turner singled home two runs.
Kirtland responded with three runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Tommy Gogolin was hit by a pitch to start the rally. Gage Sullivan then doubled him home and Pierce Boyd singled before the Mustangs recorded an out. Mason Rus hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game and Luke Chuko reached on an error that scored Boyd.
The Hornets added another run in the second after Gogolin drew a one-out walk and Sullivan hit his second double of the game. Gogolin would score on Boyd’s ground out.
Grand Valley turned to Hejduk in the next inning and he went on to allow just four hits over six scoreless innings and he struck out nine.
“He’s just a fierce competitor,” said Grand Valley coach Matt Brumit. “Anytime he’s at the plate or on the mound, or wherever we put him, I know he’s going to compete and do his job to the fullest of his potential.”
Grand Valley scored one run on Hall’s RBI single in the top of the third to pull to within 4-3 and tied the game in the sixth when Matthew Wengerd drew a leadoff walk and scored on a Sparks single.
Gogolin led off the Kirtland seventh with a single but he was caught stealing second. Boyd h it a two-out single but Hejduk fanned the last batter of the inning to force an extra frame.
Eric Ellsworth drew a leadoff walk in the eighth and scored on Nate Boiarski’s double. Hejduk then added an insurance run with an RBI double of his own. Sparks also doubled in the inning.
Hejduk allowed a Chuko single in the bottom of the eighth but struck out the final two batters of the game to seal Grand Valley’s third straight conference win.
Sparks and Turner both finished the game with two hits for the Mustangs.
“I’m super excited to win or lose with the guys that we have,” Brumit said. “We have six seniors, and I have the leadership that we need and I really don’t say much. It’s just practicing, performing, and going from there, it’s fun.”
Gogolin, Sullivan, and Boyd each had two hits for Kirtland, who dropped to 0-4.
“We had our opportunities, that’s for sure,” said Kirtland coach Luke Smrdel. “We’re a little bit younger than normal, but these are the moments we really have to push forward in.”