Saturday, September 30, 2023

Hornets rally for win over Harvey

Kirtland came back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat host Harvey, 9-4, in a Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division matchup on Monday.

The Hornets scored one in the top of the first but the Red Raiders took the lead with a three-run second. Kirtland responded with four in the top of the third and never looked back.

“Things are starting to come together for us and today’s win was very big for us for both conference standing and tournament seeding,” said Kirtland coach Luke Smrdel. “I’m loving the fact that the guys understand how important every run is each game. We’ve played a lot of games this year where we need to manufacture runs at different times of the game and our guys are producing in the clutch situations.”

Joey Torok led off the game with a single then stole the first of his four bases and scored on Mike Zeuli’s single.

Harvey scored three unearned runs in the second.

Torok reached on a one-out error in the third and again stole his way to second base. He stole two more bases in the fourth to push his season total to 25. He set the school’s career stolen base record earlier this season and he needs just six more bases to break his own school record for thefts in a single season.

Zeuli drew a two-out walk to put runners on first and third for Ryan Lipps, who delivered a bases-clearing triple.

“The triple in the third was a shocker,” Lipps said. “It looked like it was just a base hit to left field but when I started rounding first the ball was at the fence. It was big for me to hopefully get back in the groove of things but more importantly to get the lead back after being down.”

Seann McGill then singled home Lipps and stole second. He scored on Anthony DeMarco’s base hit.

“Most of the time when you hear people talking about manufacturing runs it usually revolves around bunting, but we focus on situational hitting and stealing bases,” Smrdel said. “Those are our keys to manufacturing runs and seeing our game plan starting to work more consistently tells me that we are making huge strides with the experience level of our guys this year.”

Torok reached on a fielder’s choice and scored in the fourth and Luke Potopsky doubled and DeMarco tripled in the seventh to close out the scoring for the Hornets.

“We are starting to become the team I knew we had the potential to be and I’m excited to see where this team will be when we get into tournament play,” Smrdel said. “Andrew DeMarco got his first hit of the year, which was almost an inside the park home run, Luke Potosky had a clutch hit in the seventh and Ryan Lipps had a huge triple in the third after we fell behind. Mike Zeuli stayed hot at the plate and threw out multiple runners from behind the dish.”

Vince Liuzzo didn’t allow an earned run and struck out two in a six-inning win on the mound. Jack Dever pitched the seventh for the Hornets.

“Vince Liuzzo pitched a great game for us today,” Smrdel said. “He did a great job with his command, hit spots, and kept them off balance. Our defense was a bit shaky early, and all four runs he gave up were unearned, but after a few mistakes we really cleaned it up defensively today.”

Kirtland improved to 7-6 overall and 5-3 in the CVC. The Hornets travel to Cardinal on Tuesday.

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. 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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