CANTON — The St. Edward bench stood at the edge of their dugout, waiting for the final out in a game that was decided four innings earlier.
Medina made the Eagles wait a few minutes longer, but a pop-up by Nick Martinez with the bases loaded ended the Bees comeback attempt, and their state tournament aspirations, with an 8-4 loss to St. Edward in the Canton Division-I Regional semifinals Thursday at Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium.
The Eagles (26-3), who advance to play Mayfield in the regional championship game today at 5 p.m., used a six-run third inning and stellar pitching from Vince Bartolone to end Medina’s season, that saw the Bees earn a share of the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division title while reaching the regionals for the third time in six years.
“I don’t diminish their (Medina’s) accomplishments,” Kaplack said. “Right now, this group of guys with four seniors, to get here (was special).”
Despite out-hitting the Eagles 8-6, the Bees (21-10) failed to string hits together, getting multiple hits in only one of the first five innings. By then St. Edward had built an 8-0 lead.
The Eagles’ Ross Kivet and Tommy Mirabelli ignited the scoring barrage. Kivet, who went 2-for-4 and scored two runs, led off both the first and third innings with a hit and Mirabelli, who also was 2-for-4 with two runs, followed with hits off Bees starter Logan Goehler.
Goehler (6-1), primarily a closer this season, made his first start since the second game of the season, and pitched five scoreless innings. The other two, however, left the Bees playing catch up.
“We figured this game was going to be a sprint and we had to shut them down early and get some confidence,” Kaplack said. “That was the goal. Get into the groove of things and go from there.”
Kivet’s leadoff triple in the third ignited the rally. Mirabelli singled him in, then Goehler, who issued back-to-back walks to Stetson Allie and Alex Lavisky, two Major League Baseball prospects.
An error by Medina second baseman Kyle Hulthen on a pop fly allowed Mirabelli to score and re-loaded the bases for Cody Cooper, who ripped a bases-clearing triple to right-center field that put St. Edward up 7-0. Cooper scored on Stephen Kisan’s RBI groundout later in the inning.
Bartolone (5-1) was in control most of the game. He threw 6 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits and three runs. During the first five innings, Bartolone gave up only three singles. He retired the Bees in order on four pitches in the first inning, on 11 in the third and 10 in both the fourth and fifth innings.
St. Edward coach Danny Allie said he elected to start Bartolone instead of his son, Stetson Allie, the team’s ace who throws upwards of 95 mph, because he wanted to save him for today’s final.
“It didn’t really surprise me,” Allie said. “(Bartolone) has pitched very well the whole year. What you saw today is really what I expected.”
Kivet gave the junior pitcher an early cushion by opening the first inning with a bunt single. Mirabelli followed with a double. Goehler walked Allie and Lavisky to score Kivet and Andrew Busser knocked in Mirabelli with a sacrifice fly to give the Eagles the early 2-0 advantage.
Bartolone did run into trouble in the seventh and failed to finish the game. Medina’s Scott Sency led off the inning with a single and Travis Neal reached on an error by Kisan. Theilman singled in Sency and Neal scored on a bad throw by Lavisky who tried to gun down Thielman trying to advance to second base.
Goehler, who finished the postseason with a 2-1 record on the mound and .692 batting average, stroked his second RBI single in as many innings, the first knocking in Thielman, who reached on an error. Cooper relieved Bartolone a batter later and faced only three hitters to seal the win.
“I saw it and felt it in the fifth inning. I felt a little let down,” Danny Allie said. “When you’re around these guys, you feel that competitive edge, you feel that attitude. It just changed a little.”
The loss ends the high school career of Medina’s four seniors, Goehler, Neal, Curtis Rinkes and Thomas McGurk, a group that Kaplack praised for their determined and focused demeanor.
“Those guys are no-nonsense,” Kaplack said. “We talked about that before the game; these guys carry the tradition and they pass it on and lead the way. That’s a very small group of seniors — some people would have called it a rebuilding year.”
Contact Adam Ferrise at firstname.lastname@example.org.