EUCLID — After handing Euclid its only loss of the Lake Erie League season, Lorain knew Monday’s game was win or bust.
For the Titans to earn at least a share of the LEL crown, they needed to sweep the Panthers.
For five innings, the two teams battled through a nip-and-tuck game thanks to sterling pitching performances from Lorain’s Aaron Andujar and Euclid’s Cameron Fuller. However, Euclid’s seven-run sixth inning ended Lorain’s hopes and propelled the Panthers to a 9-0 win at Stanic Field.
Euclid, with two more LEL games left against Bedford and Maple Heights, improved to 14-6, 10-1 in the league. Lorain High, with six more regular-season games left, fell to 12-8 (8-3).
“I’m disappointed in the way we came out,” Lorain coach Brad Ternes said. “I don’t know that we ever jumped into the game as mentally ready as what we should have. We were a little on our heels. That kid (Fuller) was pitching a heck of a game. You’ve got to tip your cap to him.
“He shut our batters down, and we just didn’t make the adjustments we needed to in the second and third time through the order in order to get the hits and the baserunners we needed.”
Fuller (5-1), whose only loss this season was to the Titans, 6-1, at The Pipe Yard, dominated Monday, scattering six hits over six shutout innings, walking two and striking out seven.
Other than allowing back-to-back two-out hits in the top of the first, Fuller wasn’t challenged until the seventh. By then, he was working with a 9-0 lead.
“This was an excellent game,” Euclid coach Brian Leroy said. “This was the first time we had beaten them in a while. It seemed like they owned us year after year. So to beat them and clinch the league title by doing so, it’s a big thing for our program.”
In the third, Demon Hisle led off with a single to right, but Fuller induced three straight groundouts to second to get out of the inning unscathed.
Adrian Calez and Andre Morales led off the seventh with back-to-back singles, and a walk to Nate Drabiak loaded the bases with nobody out. But Leroy went to reliever Matt Kohler, who struck out the first two hitters he faced and induced a groundout to second to preserve the shutout.
“Until that seventh inning, we really didn’t have that many runners on,” Ternes said. “He really kept our hitters off balanced today. We were swinging early on pitches. He was throwing first-pitch strikes on almost every batter so the guys tried to jump on it and we’d pop it up or drill it into the ground. We just couldn’t get it rolling.”
The Panthers got on the board first on a two-out RBI single by John Abrams in the bottom of the second. In the third, a two-out walk issued to Fuller led to another two-out RBI hit — this time a double to left by Jeremy Golden — to make it 2-0.
After two singles and an error loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, things quickly fell apart for the Titans. A wild pitch by Andujar scored pinch runner Phil Stewart, which seemed to light a fire in the Euclid dugout.
Chris Kato’s RBI single and a bases-loaded walk to Jabril Rogers ended Andujar’s day. After a putout at the plate for the second out, right fielder Calez lost Fuller’s fly ball in the sun and dropped it for a two-run error. Fuller scored on Golden’s two-run single to cap the seven-run inning.
“Our pitcher Cam Fuller came out and threw a beautiful game,” Leroy said. “He threw last time up there and I don’t think he had his best stuff. Today was about as sharp as we’ve seen him this year. When he’s going good, everyone kind of rallies around him.
“If he can spot his fastball early and get ahead in the count, he’s got a good out pitch — the slider with the breaking ball.”