Wildcats Win a Wet One
St. Edward and St. Ignatius took their "Holy War" rivalry to the diamond on this rainy Friday afternoon. They met at historic League Park in Cleveland, home to the Cleveland Indians from 1901 until 1946. Both teams entered the game with losing records, hoping for a rivalry win to help turn their season around.
Cloudy, gray skies hung over League Park throughout the game. There was no rain at first pitch, but drizzle came and went during the first couple innings. The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning, putting two runs on the board. In the bottom of the first inning, St. Ignatius starting pitcher Tommy Grosel retired the Eagles in order. St. Ignatius bats broke out in the second inning, as Seth Warren singled in a pair of runs with two out. Senior Connor Adams knocked in Warren with another two out hit, and the Wildcats had a 5-0 lead. Despite a pair of singles, the Eagles again failed to score in the bottom of the second.
St. Edward, already riding a nine game losing streak, seemed in a miserable position. The rain increased to a steady pace in the third inning, causing fans to open their umbrellas. Many looked to the darkened sky and thought the game would be stopped....but the teams played on. Eagles relief pitcher Derek Tackett, who entered the game during the second innnig, retired the Wildcats quickly in the third inning. It was the first positive inning for the Eagles all day, and provided a spark to the offense.
Just like in the second inning, the Eagles got baserunners in the bottom of the third. But this time, they cashed in. Spencer Marinac knocked in the first St. Edward run with a two-out single. Mac Wainwright followed with an RBI single, cutting the Wildcat lead to 5-2. Danny McGuire then doubled in a pair more runs, making the game 5-4. The rain began to subside, and the Eagles were right back in the game. Tackett held the Wildcats off the board again in the fifth inning, giving St. Edward more momentum.
The Eagles got a leadoff baserunner in the fouth when catcher Anthony Lavisky drew a walk. Senior Riley Baumbick tripled with one out, scoring Lavisky and putting the go-ahead run at third base. Baumbick then scored on a ground ball, giving the Eagles their first lead of the game at 6-5. As if on cue, the rain stopped and the sky became a little brighter. Eagle fans were cheerly wildly, as they hoped the team could seal a huge comeback win.
St. Ignatius stopped the Eagles momentum in the fifth inning. They got a go-ahead run in the top of the inning despite having no hits. Walks and hit batsmen loaded the bases, then a walk scored a Wildcat run to tie the game at 6-6. Tackett was able to escape the inning with only one run yielded...despite the fact that the Wildcats had the bases loaded with nobody out.
Senior pitcher Braydon Nelson came on in relief for St. Ignatius during the fourth innng. He sent the Eagles down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning, keeping the game tied. Wildcat senior Jake Seifert then tripled deep into left field in the top of the sixth. Ryan Jacobs knocked in Seifert, putting St. Ignatius back in front by a 7-6 score. Nelson again retired the Eagles in order during the bottom of the sixth inning, maintaining the one-run lead.
The Wildcats got an insurance run in the top of the 7th, stretching the lead to 8-6. Nelson retired the first two Eagle batters of the 7th inning, leaving the Eagles down to their last out. Marinace and Wainwright each then drew walks. Things became very interesting as the potential tying runs were then on base. Senior pitcher Dan Adler came in relief for St. Ignatius, and retired his only batter to close out the 8-6 victory.
The win lifted St. Ignatius' record to 6-9 on the season. Despite a very gutsy relief performance by Tackett, St. Edward lost its tenth in a row and fall to 6-13. The Eagles, who have faced a strong national schedule over the past two weeks, will play North Royalton on the road Saturday morning at 11am.
Mike Deneen has extensive experience covering sports and community stories for the Lakewood Observer. Mike has been a Senior Industry Analyst for the Freedonia Group in Cleveland, Ohio, since 1998. He has appeared on CNBC’s Closing Bell, NPR’s MarketPlace and has been quoted multiple times in The Wall Street Journal. He has made multiple guest appearances on ESPN Cleveland radio. Mike also writes for Inside Northwestern, a website that covers Northwestern Wildcat Athletics. You can reach him on Twitter at @MikeDeneen1