PARMA HTS. — The Buckeye baseball team had an opportunity to upset Keystone on Tuesday, but came up just short.
The Bucks had the game-winning run on base in the seventh inning, but failed to push it across and lost 2-1 in a Cuyahoga Community College West Division II District semifinal at Mottl Field.
After Vinnie Galizio singled to lead off the game, the Bucks had trouble with Keystone’s Kendle Stiner, who set down 17 straight hitters until he hit Galizio with a pitch in the sixth.
Stiner didn’t allow another hit until the seventh, when he gave up back-to-back doubles to Jeff Susalla and Tyler Sovizral to lead off the inning. Sovizral’s double brought home Susalla and cut the deficit to one.
“I’m proud of our guys for fighting,” said Buckeye coach Steve Wright, whose team finished 12-14. “You take away those two at-bats, he pitched a pretty good game. There’s nothing more I can really say.”
After Stiner got Andrew Maxwell to pop up to short for the first out, Stiner hit Barrett Huspaska to put runners on first and second.
Liam Murray then lifted a fly ball that was dropped, but left fielder Denny Szalai had the presence of mind to throw to third for the force out. Stiner then struck out Nick Neel to end the game.
Kent State recruit Eli Kraus (5-3) had faced Keystone (22-5) before and struck out 17 in a 1-0, eight-inning loss on May 6. Kraus pitched well enough to win, but knew it would be tough for his offense to crack Stiner.
“That’s the way baseball is,” said Kraus, who had three strikeouts. “I was kind of losing grip on my curveball a little bit, so I had to shorten my stride. Pitching on three days rest, I kind of wavered in velocity a little bit. They’re a good team. They’re going to hit the ball.
“We all came into this game thinking this is our shot. We could beat them. We faced a really good pitcher. He’s very good at keeping the ball low and he kept us off the board. Cap’s off to him.”
Kraus had allowed just two hits until the fifth inning, when Keystone came to life. After a Szalai walk and a Chris Sittinger single, Collin Fitzgerald stroked a two-run double to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve been facing Eli for four years. It’s never easy. The kid’s fantastic.
“Stiner did a great job through six innings, but maybe he was getting a little more tired than he let on. We were pretty close to taking him out, but his pitch count was so low and he’s been our man for the last two years. It got a little dicey at the end, but it was his game to lose.”
Contact Steve Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.