September 17, 2014

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All-star team with Lorain County players ends up on wrong end of good old-fashioned pitching gem at Progressive Field

CLEVELAND — Every year the players in the Northeast Ohio Baseball Coaches All-Star Games play under the names of former Cleveland championship baseball teams.

All but one of Lorain County’s 21 representatives were grouped together on a team named the 1920 Indians to face the 1948 Indians, which featured players from Cleveland’s southeastern suburbs and northern Portage County.

By the time the day was over, Lorain County’s own streamed out of Progressive Field having at least some idea what it might have been like to hit against the real ’48 Indians.

The 1948 Indians won 4-0 as eight pitchers combined for a three-hit, 13-strikeout shutout in a game shortened to eight innings due to a time limit.

Amherst’s Shawn Reid, Avon’s Donny Kelly and Keystone’s Cameron Schumann each had a single to account for all the 1920 Indians’ hits.

In fact, the 1920 Indians only got a runner to third base once, in the fourth inning, when Buckeye’s Joe Bruening was hit by a pitch and stole second and third. His Bucks teammate Kyle Friel followed with a two-out walk but before Columbia’s Michael Hershey even got a chance to drive them home, Friel was called out on a questionable call while trying to steal second base, ending the threat.

Open Door’s Jordan Wright, who struck out in his only at-bat in the seventh inning, said the pitching on the 1948 Indians team was some of the best he’s seen in his high school career.

“I’m not sure I was ready to face some of the pitching we saw today,” Wright said. “But it was fun to see how many good players were out there.”

Wright, the only player from a Division IV school to play in the game, said it was an honor to play at the home of the Cleveland Indians.

“It was unbelievable to be out there,” he said. “It was really cool to be where the pro’s play. It was a great time, it was great to meet all of the other guys on the team. It was a competitive game but I think everyone was taking it a little bit easy. No one wants to get hurt before they go off to college.”

Aurora’s Jake Czerwinski was the winning pitcher, but Garfield Heights’ Justin Cronin had the pitching line of the day, striking out the side in the second inning with just 10 pitches, all strikes.

Firelands’ Dylan Schramm, who fouled an 0-2 pitch back to the screen was the only 1920 Indian to make contact against Cronin.

The 1948 Indians struck for a run in the first inning against Chesmar with Solon’s Brad Cisar driving in Jason Kleppel of Cuyahoga Heights. The score could have been worse if the 1948 Indians hadn’t stranded eight runners in the first four innings.

Wellington’s Erik Fehlen was the 1920 Indians most effective pitcher, allowing a single and a walk while striking out two in two innings of relief.

Vermilion’s Vinny Ragnoni said being on a team with Sailors teammate Mitch Peterson and a number of friends from nearby schools made playing at Progressive Field even better.

“It’s an awesome experience to come out and play of Progressive Field with all of your friends,” Ragnoni said. “It made it 10 times better that it was. Almost all Lorain County guys on the team. It really wouldn’t be any fun if you don’t know anybody out there.”

The one Lorain County athlete who did not get to see familiar faces in the dugout was Keystone’s Bradley Conrad, who played in the rain-shortened third game on the 1997 Indians team that was comprised mostly of players from Lake and Trumbull counties.

Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.