July 23, 2016

Mostly clear

Baseball: Devils beat Mustangs for piece of River pie

Matthew Doyle

STRONGSVILLE — The Brunswick baseball team entered Wednesday knowing it needed to defeat Strongsville on the road — and cheer heavily for Medina to beat Mentor — to win a share of the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division title.

It was by no means an easy task, but Ohio State recruit Kyle Michalik pitched his way through the rough patches and let his teammates help him as the Blue Devils recorded a 6-3 victory.

Brunswick right fielder Gary Clift Jr. makes a catch over center fielder Ryan Kuntz in the second inning. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY AARON JOSEFCZYK)

When Medina beat Mentor 3-2, those four teams finished in a tie for first in the six-team River Division.

Brunswick’s success came in the first three innings, when it got hits early in the count. The Blue Devils (16-8, 7-3) had at least one player get a double in each of the first three innings and jumped to an early 5-0 lead.

Gerry Salisbury, the winning pitcher Tuesday against Strongsville (12-10, 7-3), and Kyle Wheeler were huge contributors from the middle of the lineup, each driving in a run and scoring a run in their first two at-bats. Michalik also helped himself in the early going with a double and run scored.

“I struggled early on, but my team was there to back me up,” Michalik said. “They gave me great run support and great defense. Without them, we wouldn’t have gotten the ‘W.’”

Strongsville stormed back in the bottom of the third, with Michalik failing to command the strike zone. He threw 16 pitches to the first four batters, only four of them going for strikes.

Michalik walked three straight to load the bases, and Austin Previt came through from the four-spot with a two-run single to right-center. He was thrown out trying to go to second, but the rally was still alive with a runner on third with only one out.

The Mustangs were unable to make another dent into the deficit that inning. Dominic Lombardo lined out to first and Jordan Sedivy flied out to center to end the inning, leaving Brunswick up 5-2.

As it turned out, that was the last time the Mustangs really threatened to get back in the game. They scored a run in the seventh, but Brunswick reliever Kyle Burson closed the deal.

Despite struggling a bit, Michalik went five innings to improve to 4-1. The senior only allowed two earned runs on four hits and struck out five.

“What I did like was he struggled but stayed with it. He could’ve quit,” Brunswick coach Todd Winston said. “That’s probably his worst outing in two to three years, but he didn’t quit. He kept staying with it and kept competing. That’s what you have to do.”

With the Medina win, the Blue Devils left with a share of the division title.

“We struggled early on in conference play,” Michalik said. “For us to keep battling, keep fighting to try to get that share of the conference title, is huge. It shows overall how great our team is and how well we play together and come together as a team.”

Contact Matthew Doyle at sports@medina-gazette.com.

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