Thursday, September 23, 2021

Torok sets stolen base record in Kirtland’s win over Berkshire

Kirtland overcame a seven-run deficit to beat visiting Berkshire on Friday, 13-9, but that wasn’t the biggest news of the day.

Junior Joey Torok stole three bases to become the school’s all-time leader with 51 thefts in his career.

“It’s an awesome feeling especially because I’m just a junior and only a few games into the season,” Torok said. “As a leadoff hitter, my only job is to get on base and then trust my speed to get to second. It’s a great accomplishment but I’m more focused on just winning and trying to win the (Chagrin Valley Conference).”

Berkshire scored four runs in the top of the first and three more in the third before the Hornets had even batted through their lineup.

“Whenever we play Berkshire, we know that it’s going to be a battle,” said Kirtland coach Luke Smrdel. “We’ve had a pretty intense rivalry dating back quite a while and they came out swinging today, literally.”

Luke Potosky hit a leadoff triple in the bottom of the third to spark a five-run inning for the Hornets.

Torok then singled and scored on Mike Zeuli’s one-out double. Seann McGill reached on an error, Vince Liuzzo singled and Anthony DeMarco doubled in the inning.

Torok led off the fourth with a double and Jack Dever doubled to pull the Hornets to within 7-6. They scored three in the fifth to take a 9-7 lead.

“We definitely needed to get our bats going after the last two games, and after two innings being down by seven runs, Luke Potosky lit the fire with a triple to the wall,” Smrdel said. “Joey had a great day again. His speed along with his high base running IQ makes him almost unstoppable on the bases. It’s truly an incredible feat that he’s broken the career stolen base record in only about 35 games and still has a year and a half to add to that total.”

Liuzzo, DeMarco, Zeuli, and Torok all singled and Ryan Lipps reached on an error in the fifth.

Berkshire scored two runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game at 9-9 but the Hornets responded with four in the bottom half of the inning to seal their win.

Liuzzo singled and stole two bases to start the rally.

He scored on Mike Alfieri’s single. Potosky then reached on an error, Torok walked and Zeuli singled.

Torok finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBI. Zeuli was 4-for-5 and Liuzzo finished 3-for-3. DeMarco had two hits for the Hornets.

“Today was a good day for myself and my teammates,” Torok said. “I really just didn’t try to do too much with it. I just hit the ball where it was pitched and just focused on line drives. Coach asked me to bunt to get a run it and I just got it down. I just stayed focused and relaxed at the plate.”

Liuzzo relieved starter Mason Sullivan in the third and allowed two earned runs on five hits and struck out six to get the win.

“Vince got us a win on Tuesday and he was in line to start tomorrow, but when the first two innings didn’t go as planned, we went to him, and he did an awesome job,” Smrdel said. “He had a fantastic day at the plate too.”

Kirtland improved to 4-5. The Hornets travel to Euclid on Saturday.

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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