Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Hornets top Blue Devils in key CVC showdown

Kirtland opened Chagrin Valley Conference play with a win at defending Valley Division champion Hawken on Thursday.

The Hornets improved to 2-0 with an 8-2 road win at Independence on Monday.

“Now we get to come home and hopefully have a little advantage at home,” said Kirtland coach Luke Smrdel. “Going on the road is always tough and Independence is always a tough place to play, especially with the weather, but we came out and did what we had to do.”

Hawken was projected to win the Valley Division this spring with Kirtland at No. 2 and Independence close behind at No. 3.

Beating two of the top three teams in the league at their place leaves the Hornets in an enviable position, but they aren’t looking too far ahead.

“We still have 10 games to play in the CVC and anything can happen,” Smrdel said. “We’re not going to take anything for granted by any means. Hopefully, we can build off this and hopefully end up near the top.”

Three runs in the top of the third and four more in the fourth gave the Hornets an 8-1 lead over the Blue Devils.

Joey Torok, who walked and scored on Mike Zeuli’s single in the first, led off the third with a single and his second stolen base of the game. Ryan Lipps then walked to load the bases and Seann McGill singled home two runs. Lipps scored on a groundout.

McGill finished the game 2-for-3 with three runs batted in.

“Going into every game, I look to take a good approach into every at-bat looking for a first-pitch fastball,” McGill said. “Especially with runners on base, I look to be aggressive early in the at-bat and as the season as progresses I’ve gotten more and more comfortable with my role on this team and what I need to do to win games. I just try to stay focused and locked in throughout each game.”

Jayme Torok, who finished 2-for-3, led off the fourth with a single and brother Joey recorded his second straight single to put runners on first and second with no outs. Anthony DeMarco then singled and Zeuli walked. Lipps also singled home a run in the inning.

“We were getting good production,” Smrdel said. “Jayme has done a great job. We put him behind the dish against Geneva and he fit right in. He’s been hitting the ball to. We’re very happy with what he’s done so far. Joey is the table setter. He gets on base and runs around and goes base to base. McGill has been hitting the ball solid too.”

Tyler McCrory allowed one run on four hits and struck out five to pick up the win for the Hornets. Tyler Bratton relieved McCrory and struck out four in two shutout innings. McGill pitched the seventh and allowed one run without giving up a hit.

Andrew Teribery led Independence with two hits and Jordan Mallernee and Jamie McMahon both knocked in a run for the Blue Devils.

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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