July 23, 2016

Mostly sunny

Baseball: Failure to cash in proves costly for Medina

MEDINA — If Medina’s baseball team falls one game short of the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division championship, it will look back to Wednesday in disgust.

The Bees had their chances against rival Strongsville, yet squandered most of them or immediately canceled great plays with head-scratching ones in a 6-5 loss.

“We gave the game away,” Medina coach Nick Kaplack said.

Medina’s Mike Faschian slides past Strongsville catcher Mike Lange to score in the bottom of the third inning. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JUDD SMERGLIA)

The Bees (6-6, 2-2) received respectable pitching from Ashland signee Cory Teachout (2-1) and Geoff Hardy. They also snapped an offensive funk with six hits over the final three innings.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t overcome leaving the bases loaded in the third and fifth innings, having a runner thrown out at home in the sixth and allowing the Mustangs (6-5, 3-1) to score runs on a blown pickle play — Austin Previt only scored because he reached base after striking out — a throwing error and a hit by pitch.

It was impossible to pinpoint a specific reason for the loss, other than multiple mistakes in key moments added up in a hurry.

“We had many opportunities,” Kaplack said. “That was a game in which we played hard enough to win, we pitched the ball well enough to win and we actually hit the ball well enough to win. It’s the first day we made a bunch of mental errors.”

Medina tied the score at 2 by scoring a pair of runs on Strongsville throwing errors, but only after the Mustangs went up 2-0 when Bees second baseman Collin Minor had Mike Lange dead in the water but didn’t throw to first baseman Nick Fryer.

This allowed Lange to scurry back safely and Previt, who struck out on a pitch in the dirt but reached when catcher Brent Lary’s throw to first went wide, to come home without a throw.

Things got worse in the fifth, as the Mustangs scored four insurance runs that turned out to be huge.

Teachout, who brilliantly worked out of a jam in the fourth, was chased after allowing a leadoff double to Ryan Frank and walking Brad Hajdin. Hardy then gave up an infield single to Alex Sarrouh before getting the first out on a fielder’s choice at home with the bags packed.

The next play hurt, though, as Jordan Sedivy hit a grounder to third baseman Patrick Beal, who short-hopped the throw home. Previt then was hit with the bases loaded, which led to back-to-back RBI singles from Brad Wiemken and Lange.

“It’s a team effort,” Kaplack said. “We made enough mental errors. Maybe they weren’t E’s on the board, but we made enough mental errors, which is what you don’t want to do in baseball.”

For all their struggles, the Bees showed plenty of grit, as they made it 6-3 on an RBI single by Ohio Wesleyan recruit Conner Green in the fifth.

Medina refused to quit, too, but another gaffe killed their comeback.

In the sixth, the Bees loaded the bases with one out on walks by Teachout and Lary sandwiched around a double by Mike Faschian (2 runs). Geoff Hardy (3-for-4) crushed a double to right-center that brought in two, but he failed to see pinch runner Tanner Winters holding at third.

Hardy continued to third, which forced Winters home with the ball nearly back to the infield. Winters was an easy out at the plate despite his best efforts to wiggle around the tag.

Letts then lined out to end the threat, leaving Medina wondering if a run would have scored on a sacrifice fly had there been one out.

“This was a game that shouldn’t have even been in question,” Kaplack said. “We should have been fine. We had so many chances.”

Earlier in the day:

Medina 1, Strongsville 0

MEDINA — Sophomore Austin Havekost needed 12 pitches to save the game that was suspended Tuesday in the bottom of the seventh inning, making senior Mike Ellenbest (2-0) a hard-earned winner.

The right-handed Ellenbest pitched six-plus innings before rain stopped the game Tuesday. The Saginaw Valley State recruit finished with nine strikeouts while allowing just five hits and getting out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the fifth inning.

If Medina claws back into division title contention, Ellenbest’s performance could be a big reason why.

“Mike Ellenbest threw one of the best high school games I’ve ever seen,” Kaplack said.

Previt retired 13 of the next 15 batters after allowing a double to Hardy on the first pitch of the game. He was pulled after 79 pitches, and reliever Warren Spragg couldn’t slam the door.

Scrappy Medina had a lot to do with that, as it loaded the bases in the seventh on a Faschian single and consecutive walks by Lary and Hardy. Letts then provided the game winner by drilling a 1-1 pitch up the middle.

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.

Albert Grindle About Albert Grindle

Albert Grindle is a sportswriter for the Gazette. He can be reached at 330-721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.