Monday, June 17

    Kirtland rallies for win over Cuyahoga Heights

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    Kirtland rallied back from an early deficit to defeat visiting Cuyahoga Heights on Thursday, 8-7.

    The Hornets, who couldn’t hold an eight-run lead in the seventh inning of a 14-13 loss at Cardinal on Tuesday, avoided back-to-back losses when Xavier Lasecki scored the winning run on a wild pitch.

    “We chipped away and stayed the course,” said Kirtland coach Luke Smrdel. “We didn’t lose focus and we got a couple of clutch hits at the end. Xavier put a ball out into the outfield that got us a run and then scored on a passed ball. We were just doing the little stuff and making sure we made the plays at the end.”

    Cuyahoga Heights took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a hit batter and an RBI double by Andrew McDonald.

    The Hornets scored twice in the bottom of the second to take a 2-1 lead.

    Will Bates started the rally by being hit by a pitch and he moved to second on Max Paul’s sacrifice bunt and stole third. Vito Cantini picked up an RBI on his groundout and Lasecki hit a two-out single and scored on Trip Thaler’s RBI single.

    The Red Wolves blew the game open with a five-run third.

    A hit batter followed by an RBI double and an error gave the Red Wolves a 3-2 lead. Cuyahoga Heights recorded another double and an RBI single followed by a run-scoring groundout.

    “They hit the ball,” Smrdel said of the Red Wolves. “Nothing really went wrong, they just put the ball in play, and they hit the ball deep a couple of times. There wasn’t much we could have done there. They scored some runs, and we came back. That’s how baseball is played.”

    Kirtland cut the Heights lead to 6-3 in the bottom half of the inning on Lucci Cantini’s double followed by Macguire Boyd’s sacrifice fly, but the Red Wolves answered with a run in the top of the fourth.

    Macgowan Rott and Nick Dabrowski hit back-to-back singles and Vince Snyder walked to load the bases. Kyle Porter drew a one-out walk forcing home a run for a 7-3 Heights lead.

    Paul singled to start the Kirtland fourth and he scored on Thaler’s RBI single that cut the Red Wolves lead to 7-4.

    Kirtland put together two two-run innings to close out the game.

    Vito Cantini walked to start the Hornet sixth and scored when Lasecki reached on an error. Thaler followed with a sacrifice fly that cut the Heights lead to 7-6.

    Thaler struck out the Red Wolves in the bottom of the sixth to set up Kirtland’s walk-off win in the seventh.

    Bates drew a leadoff walk, stole second, and moved to third on an error. Lasecki then hit a two-out RBI single to centerfield and moved to third on Thaler’s single.

    Two pitches later, Lasecki scored on a wild pitch.

    “I got down to two strikes with two outs, so I was just trying to put something in play knowing there was a runner on third and the top of the order coming up,” Lasecki said of his seventh-inning at-bat. “It was cool to be a part of an exciting game. We started off not the greatest, but we bounced back in the sixth and seventh and got the job done.”

    With the win, the Hornets improved to 10-1 overall, but more importantly, they put the Cardinal game behind them.

    “Coming off that Cardinal game, it was a reality check like anyone can beat anyone,” Lasecki said. “We just relocked in and focused on the next game and even though we started not so great we finished with a ‘W,’ and getting back into the win column was huge.”

    Thaler led the Hornets with a 3-for-4 day at the plate. He also knocked in a team-high three runs. Lucci Cantini was 2-for-2 and Lasecki was 2-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI. Gino Blasini, Tyler Turk, Boyd, Bates, and Paul also had hits for the Hornets.

    Drew Thaler started the game on the mound. He allowed five earned runs on seven hits and struck out four in three innings. Trip Thaler picked up the win after striking out 11 in four hitless and scoreless innings of work.

    Dabrowski, McDonald, and Fletcher Sturgill each recorded two hits for the Red Wolves.

    Kirtland hosts Lutheran West on Friday.



    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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