Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Kirtland sweeps Beachwood in postseason preview

Beachwood may have drawn a higher seed than Kirtland in the Division III Lakewood District Tournament but following Saturday's doubleheader sweep, the sixth-seeded Hornets will head into the postseason with the confidence they can knock off the No. 3 Bison.

Kirtland won the first game, 9-5, and the second, 7-5.

“It was a good day,” said Kirtland coach Luke Smrdel. “It gives us a little momentum heading into the sectional/district. Beachwood is seeded ahead of us and beating them twice hopefully sends a message to the rest of the district that we're here to play.”

Junior Alec Ward allowed just three earned runs on eight hits and struck out five in picking up his first of the season in game one.

“That was Alec's first career start,” Smrdel said. “He came out and threw strikes, got ahead of guys and did a great job overall. It was very impressive for his first start.”

Tyler McCrory pitched 6 2/3 innings to pick up the win in game two. He allowed three earned runs on eight hits and struck out eight. Vinny Matticoli faced the final two Beachwood batters to pick up his fourth save.

“We jumped on them early there in the second game and Tyler held them at bay,” Smrdel said. “He ran out of steam at the end and of course our closer, Vinny Matticoli, came in and saved the day.”

Offensively, Joey Bates led the way two four hits and four runs batted in. He also was a menace on the base paths. Andrew Hutton had three hits in the two games and Palmer Capretta, Ryan Friedenberg and Matticoli both had a pair of hits.

“Joey had a really good day at the plate and he had five stolen bases in the two games,” Smrdel said. “He's swinging a really hot bat right now. Palmer is too. They're both swinging a hot bat right now. The top of the order is really starting to come alive here at the right time of the season.”

Kirtland improved to 11-7 overall. The Hornets host Hawken on Monday in a showdown of the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division’s top teams. Both teams enter the game with identical 8-1 league records.

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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