Sunday, February 5, 2023

Kmentt one-hitter clinches share of CVC title for Kirtland

KIRTLAND—Kirtland faced three must-win situations this week and the Hornets turned to senior Michael Kmentt in two of them.

Kmentt led the Hornets to a 6-2 win at Hawken on Monday which kept them in the hunt for a share of a fourth straight Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division title. An extra-inning loss to the Hawks on Wednesday left the Hornets in a tough position. They’d have to beat Berkshire, a team that beat them 10-0 earlier this season, to share the title with Hawken.

Enter Kmentt.

“He wanted the ball,” said Kirtland coach Luke Smrdel. “He took it and ran with it and it was just a great performance, probably one of the best performances I have ever seen.”

Kmentt came one pitch away from a no-hitter in the Hornets’ 8-0 win over the Badgers.

Miles Chapman broke up the no-no in the top of the seventh when he pushed a single just past shortstop Palmer Capretta on a two-out, two-strike pitch.

“I kind of knew,” Kmentt said of his no-hitter bid. “I had a little feeling but there was one hit earlier in the game that was questionable. It could have been a hit depending on how it got ruled. I was so close. (The pitch to Chapman) was right where I wanted to pitch it. It barely got through.”

Kmentt never doubted he’d be ready to go on Thursday, even after throwing six innings at Hawken on Monday.

“This was one of the biggest games because if we didn't win today then we wouldn't have a share of the conference,” he said. “This was a must-win. I was kind of frustrated from how it went last time when we didn't play (well) against them. I just wanted it ever since then.”

Berkshire had just three baserunners through the first six innings. Two reached on an error and Kmentt walked the other.

The Hornets took a 1-0 lead in the third when Ben Stark singled and the Badgers misplayed a sacrifice bunt attempt, which left runners at first and second with no outs. David Allchin then walked to load the bases and Mike Zeuli hit a sacrifice fly to left.

Vinny Matticoli smacked a two-out double in the fourth and Ryan Friedenberg singled him home to make it 2-0.

Kirtland broke it open in the fifth with six runs on seven hits and a walk.

Owen Loncar singled to start the rally. Allchin walked and Capretta reached safety on a bunt. An overthrow on the play allowed Loncar to score.

Zeuli, Joey Bates and Anthony Fortuna all singled and Matticoli executed a perfect suicide squeeze. Friedenberg then singled and Stark doubled to make it 8-0.

“Overall, it was fantastic baseball,” Smrdel said. “They did everything right. It was a great day.”

Capretta, Zeuli, Matticoli, Friedenberg and Stark all finished with two hits for the Hornets, who improved to 13-8 overall and finished league play with a 10-2 record.

“It's an honor to be CVC champs again,” Smrdel said. “Hawken is a very good team. We're proud to share it with them. It was a great day of baseball here at Kirtland.”



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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