First-year Mentor coach Jeff Haase described his team as “scrappy” in the preseason, and there is nothing so far in 2015 that would make him think any different.
A sweep of two games decided by one run each on April 11 at the BW3 Tournament in Mansfield as only reinforced Haase’s assessment of the Cardinals.
Mentor remained undefeated on the season with a pair of wins, rallying for a 9-8 victory over Mount Vernon in the first game and knocking off Mansfield Madison, 8-7, in the second game. The Cardinals are now 4-0 this spring with a pair of games on April 12 on tap.
“It was a good day and it proved that we are never out of a game no matter what, now we just have to carry that over to Sunday,” Haase said.
Mentor trailed, 8-3, against Mt. Vernon before scoring six runs in the final three at-bats to claim victory. Sophomore Nathan Birtley had a bases-clearing double to plate three runs during the rally and Tom Noll had a sacrifice fly to drive in a run for the Cardinals.
“Birtley (5 RBI on the day) has really been a spark for us, and as a sophomore, you have to like what he is doing,” Haase said. “We think it is going to take every player 1 through 18 to get the job done, and today they came out dug deep with nine outs left to get the win.”
In the win over Mansfield Madison, Conner Frakes scored the winning run on an error after the game was tied at 7. Derek Donnett pitched well for the Cardinals in relief.
Matt Eiswerth (4 RBI) Dominic Dengel and Tyler Thompson had big days at the plate for Mentor in the two games. Ricky Valeri, Andrew Hurst, Michael Hritz, Rob Mealey and Ian Gray all contributed to the two wins.
Nick Smith was a standout on the mound in 4 innings of relief in the first game against Mt. Vernon for the Cardinals.
“We had a lot of guys step up, and right now we are building character and chemistry so it was good to see,” Haase said.
“It was a long bus ride and they haven’t been on the field in a while because of the weather so you aren’t sure what to expect, but I like what I see out of this group. They are definitely scrappy and it isn’t always going to be pretty whether we win or lose.”
Mentor plays Ashland in the first game on April 12 before a rematch with Mt. Vernon in the second game on Sunday.