Monday, March 27, 2023

Mentor blanks Shaker to advance to district semi

First-year Mentor coach Jeff Haase avoided a celebratory ice bucket shower after his team's 8-0 victory over Shaker Heights in a Division I sectional final on May 13.

Haase didn't miss a moment, however, of the Cardinals' most complete victory of the season.

Mentor junior right-hander Matt Eiswerth tossed a complete-game three-hit shutout to lead the Cardinals to a district semifinal matchup with North on May 19 at Euclid High School.

The Mentor-North winner will take on either top-seeded South or Cleveland Heights in the district championship game on May 20.

"It was a complete team effort where we got good pitching, timely hitting and great defense," Haase said. "Matt pounded the zone and threw the ball extremely well. Today, he pitched like the true No. 1 he is. Michael Hritz hit the ball in the gap and we put pressure on the other team.

"We are starting to play better and all the hard work and the tough schedule we have played is paying off. … This is a big one. I think I was more nervous than the kids before the game. Coach (Len) Taylor did some great things here and you don't want to be the guy to go out early."

Eiswerth threw 89 pitches and limited the Raiders to three hits over seven strong innings. A tremendous defensive effort behind Eiswerth propelled the victory as well as a three-run third inning and four more in the sixth.

"I was able to pound the zone and throw strikes and it looked good for me, but really it was the defense behind me that got the job done and that is the reason we won. Those guys were awesome," Eiswerth said.

Mentor led, 4-0, heading into the bottom of the sixth and put the game away with four runs in the frame. The Cardinals scored four runs in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Eiswerth, a two-run double by Hritz, and an RBI single by Tommy Noll.

Hritz drove in three runs, Tyler Thompson and Dominic Dengel each score twice, and Ricky Valeri had a stellar defensive play in the outfield for Mentor to support Eiswerth.

"We just needed to get a couple runs on the board and support Matt and we did that today," Hritz said. "This was huge for our confidence. It is one game at a time and win or go home in the tournament.

"We feel like if we put all three parts of the game together we can be tough to beat and today we did that and won convincingly."

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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