Sunday, February 25

    Kirtland clinches Valley Division title

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    With a 12-4 win at Crestwood on Tuesday, Kirtland clinched a share of the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division title.

    Thanks to Edgewood’s 6-5 win over Berkshire, the Hornets won’t have to worry about sharing the title with the Badgers.

    “It’s a great feeling,” said Kirtland coach Luke Smrdel of his squad clinching the league title. “I’m just proud of these guys and what they’ve accomplished. They won some tough games. It’s never easy to end up on top of the conference but they held their composure all season so far and they’ve done a great job.”

    Kirtland entered the game one game ahead of Berkshire. Had the Badgers beaten Edgewood on Tuesday, the Hornets would have needed a win in Burton on May 19 to clinch the league title outright.

    Instead, Kirtland took care of business at Crestwood and Edgewood helped the Hornets’ cause.

    “We lost five or six seniors last year, but we got a lot of guys experience last season and it’s paying off,” Smrdel said. “We were pretty young last year and getting those guys experienced helped us be successful this year.”

    Kirtland broke a scoreless tie with one run in the third inning and then broke the game open with a seven-run fourth. The Hornets added a run in the fifth and three more in the sixth.

    Crestwood pushed across four runs in the bottom of the sixth, but the Hornets weathered that storm and held off the Red Devils in the seventh to seal their win and conference title.

    Kirtland pounded out 15 hits in the victory.

    “It was kind of the same thing as (Monday),” Smrdel said of Kirtland’s 10-0 win over Crestwood to start the week. “We just put the bat on the ball and put pressure on the defense.”

    Gino Blasini led the Hornets at the plate and on the mound.

    He went 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI, and he allowed two earned runs on two hits and struck out eight in six innings of work. Xavier Lasecki pitched one scoreless inning. He didn’t allow a hit and struck out two.

    Tommy Gogolin, Tyler Turk, and Trip Thaler each recorded two hits for the Hornets. Macguire Boyd and Casey Carkhuff both hit doubles in the game.

    Kirtland (15-3) hosts Cuyahoga Heights 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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