Monday, February 26, 2024

Marines beat the Air Force, 4-1

Lightning ended the second annual Ohio Varsity All-Star Classic with the Marines All-Stars on top of the Air Force, 4-1. It was the second straight victory for the Marines, who won last year’s contest, 6-1.

Mentor's Sam Vilk hit a solo home run in the seventh inning

The Marines broke open a scoreless tie with three runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Independence’s Darren Krolikowski reached first base on a fielder’s choice and moved to second when Gilmour Academy’s Bennett Clark drew a walk. Cuyahoga Heights’ Dylan Denner then singled home Krolikowski and Independence’s Mike Martin, who set a national record with five doubles in a game this season and a school record with 16 two-baggers in a single season, doubled to right center with two outs to make it 3-0.

“[Hitting a double] was awesome, especially because it was on my birthday,” Martin said. “It was right after they announced those records and I got to hit a double, so that was pretty cool.”

The Air Force put a run on the board in the top of the seventh when Kenston’s Anthony Hajdu drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a single by Kirtland’s Dominic Camino. West Geauga’s Mike Koller singled to score Hajdu.

A solo shot to right center by Mentor’s Sam Vilk, the first home run in Ohio Varsity All-Star Classic history, in the bottom half of the inning put the Marines back up by three runs.

“[Hitting the home run] felt amazing,” Vilk said. “I noticed the pitcher pitched me in a sequence. He went curveball, fastball, curveball, fastball. He threw it low and in and I drove it to right-center.”

Krolikowski set the Air Force down in order in the top of the eighth before the game was called due to inclement weather.

Cuyahoga Heights’ Zac Lowther, a Xavier University recruit and Division IV All-Ohioan, started the game for the Marines. His first pitch sailed way over the head of Fairport Harding’s Colin Hites. Lowther allowed just one hit and struck out three in three innings of work.

“It was supposed to be a knuckleball, but it got away from me a little bit,” Lowther said. “The Marines won two years in a row now, so my buddy was on it last year and they got a win, so I was just trying to represent.”

Cuyahoga Heights head coach Marc Lowther coached the Marines to their second straight win in the classic.

“This is all about the kids,” he said. “I told them we’re going to get a set lineup for the first three innings, another set lineup for four through six, after that I said, ‘Go wherever you want. Have fun. Play a position you’ve always dreamed of playing and just have fun.’”

Aurora’s Kirk Janoch pitched the fourth and fifth innings for the Marines. He allowed two hits and struck out one to pick up the pitching victory.

Clark, Denner, Vilk, Independence’s Alex Scotton and University School’s Conor O’Hara all had hits for the Marines.

Hajdu was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored to lead the Air Force attack. Koller, Gittins and Mentor's Caleb Potter also had hits for the Air Force.


Steve Hare
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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