Friday, September 22, 2023

Kirtland holds off Cardinal for season sweep

Kirtland and Cardinal played through rain, sleet, snow and heavy winds and it showed as both teams had their share of difficulties.

In the end, Kirtland pulled out a 10-8 win to sweep the season series with the Huskies.

“It was a team effort today,” said Kirtland coach Luke Smrdel. “We battled through some tough situations and got behind early and we got behind late but everybody contributed in a lot of different ways.”

Kirtland, playing as the visiting team in the game that originally was scheduled to be played at Cardinal, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning when David Allchin walked and scored on Jacob Boyd’s double. Boyd scored on an error.

The Huskies responded with three runs in the bottom of the first.

Cody Purpura walked and advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches. He scored when Clark Thurling reached base on an error. KC Cress singled to score Thurling then stole second and scored on two passed balls.

“We played better than we did (in Tuesday’s 13-2 loss to the Hornets),” said Cardinal coach Brian George. “There were some errors on both sides that allowed some runs to score and a lot of wild pitches that helped us scratch some runs across. We’ll take them any way we can get them.”

Cardinal’s lead was short-lived as the Hornets added four more in the top of the second to take a 6-3 lead. The Hornets pounded out four hits and walked three times in the inning.

Kirtland maintained the lead until the Huskies chased starter Michael Kmentt from the game in the bottom of the fourth.

Joe Tucker singled and scored on a passed ball to cut Kirtland’s lead to 6-4 and Lucas Fulop, Purpura and Zach Retych all walked. Fulop scored on Thurling’s single and Purpura took advantage of another passed ball to push across another Cardinal run. Retych scored on a ground out and Logan Schultz singled to score Thurling to give the Huskies an 8-6 lead.

Kirtland’s Matthew Finkler relieved Kmentt to get the Hornets out of the inning. He went on to pitch the final 3 2/3 innings to pick up the win.

“They have a sense of confidence when Matthew comes in,” Smrdel said of the Hornets. “He’s our guy. We rely on him a lot. He came in and did his job.”

With Finkler keeping the Huskies scoreless the rest of the way it was up to the Hornets’ bats to pull out the come-from-behind win.

Brendan Williamson was hit by a pitch to give Kirtland a baserunner with one out in the top of the sixth. Kmentt followed up with a single and Allchin took one for the team to load the bases. Joey Bates then reached on an error to cut Cardinal’s lead to 8-7 and Allchin scored on a passed ball to tie the game. Kmentt scored on a single by Boyd and Bates came home on an error to close out the scoring.

Boyd finished 2-for-4 with a double and three runs batted in and Williamson was 2-for-4 with an RBI for the Hornets. Allchin scored three runs and stole a pair of bases.

“On a cold day, Jacob came out and hit a double in his first at bat and Brendan has been swinging a very good bat lately. He hit line drives to the right side,” Smrdel said. “(Allchin’s) speed once again came into play. We utilized his speed in the right way.”

Thurling was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI and Zemelka also had two hits for the Huskies.

Cress went the distance for Cardinal. He gave up eight hits and struck out 12.

“He pitched really tough for us,” George said. “I asked him how he felt in the fifth and he told me, ‘If you take me out I’m going to hurt you.’ I figured he was OK.”

Kirtland hosts Chagrin Falls on Thursday while Cardinal entertains rival Berkshire.



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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