Monday, September 26, 2022

Hornets top Redskins in key league showdown

Kirtland held off host Cuyahoga Heights, 4-3, in a key matchup between the top two teams in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division.

With the win, the Hornets improved to 11-4 overall and 10-1 in the Valley Division. Cuyahoga Heights dropped to 14-2, 7-1 and now must win at Kirtland on Friday to keep alive its hopes of winning the league title

“That was a very big win to go on the road to a tough place to play against a very good team,” Kirtland coach Luke Smrdel said. “To come out of there now gives us home field advantage and now we just have to defend our home turf.”

The Hornets took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Joey Mongelluzzi drew a one-out walk, stole second and move to third on Seann McGill’s single. Mongelluzzi scored on Mike Alfieri’s groundout.

Kirtland added a pair of runs in the top of the fifth to push its lead to 3-0.

Mongelluzzi and McGill drew back-to-back two-out walks and Alfieri singled to score one run. McGill then scored on an error.

The Redskins responded with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning off Kirtland starter Mason Sullivan, who until that point had allowed just two baserunners through the first four innings.

“He commanded the zone and didn’t walk anybody,” Smrdel said of Sullivan, who went the distance and struck out eight. “He got ahead of batters. We had an error in that one inning but it was a downpour during that inning so both teams struggled a little bit. They made an error in the top of the inning to give us a run and we made an error in the bottom of the inning, so they got us back but we held on.”

Jake Lasky started the Redskin rally with a single and Ryan Rose doubled him home to cut Kirtland’s lead to 3-1. Rose moved to third on a groundout and scored on an error.

Vinny Liuzzo drew a walk to leadoff the Kirtland sixth. Liuzzo then stole second and scored on Torok’s two-out single.

Despite being outhit, 6-4, the Hornets picked up the crucial hits they needed.

“We got outhit but we had clutch hits,” Smrdel said. “Mike Alfieri stepped up with two outs and knocked in a run and Joey Torok had the biggest hit of the game. He came up in the sixth with two outs and a runner at third and he hits a line drive up the middle to get us an insurance run and that definitely paid off because we won by one.”

Nolan Borowy was hit by a pitch and scored on an Alex Studniarz single in the bottom of the seventh but Sullivan pitched out of the jam to secure the Kirtland win.

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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