ELYRIA — Splitting doubleheaders sometimes brings out the best and worst in teams and Saturday’s city rivalry clash at George Day Field was a perfect example.
Elyria Catholic and Elyria High had plenty of highs and lows on a sun-splashed but cool day on the south side of the city.
Joe Begany’s three-run homer and four-hit pitching keyed EC to a 6-2 win in the first game but the Panthers’ young arms simply made too many mistakes in a 14-4 mercy-rule loss to the host Pioneers in the second.
The Panthers are 4-1 on the year, while Elyria is 2-2.
“At that point we were down 1-0,” Begany said of his third-inning blast. “I was sitting fastball, 1-0 (count). He threw the fastball and I made really good contact. You make contact, good things happen.”
That contact sent the ball far over the right-field fence and scored Omar Vazquez and Angelo Cruz ahead of Begany for a 3-1 lead.
It was all the runs the returning All-Ohio senior southpaw needed as he pretty much set down the Pioneers with minimum effort.
Begany had eight-pitch and six-pitch innings in cruising through six for the win. Cruz came on to finish off the Pioneers, although Jacob Csizmadia tripled with two outs in the seventh.
Begany threw just 70 pitches over the first five innings and finished with 88 over six. He fanned five and walked one.
“(Elyria’s) a swinging team,” Begany said. “When you’re not getting hits, it’s good for the pitcher — quick innings — saving your arm so you can go on longer.”
“Our biggest thing is at the plate against that guy,” Elyria coach Ed Piazza said. “He had 53 pitches going into the fifth inning. We’re just aggressive. We were hitting his pitches. When your 3-4-5 (hitting order) guys see a total of 10 pitches, that’s not too good.”
“Joey’s been our most consistent pitcher,” EC coach Bruce Lisicky said. “Our pitchers — even though we were 3-0 (coming in), we’ve been walking a lot of guys. Joey knew he had to go in there and throw strikes. He had a couple quick innings and toward the end, he said he was getting tired a little bit. Angelo Cruz came in and closed the door.”
In Game 2, it was just the opposite. Elyria drew four walks off EC freshman starter Andrew Abrohamowicz and scored eight runs in the second inning to win easily.
“We were pretty upset after that,” said Elyria junior third baseman Kevin Cloen, who led off the second inning with a hit and smacked a second as the Pioneers batted around. “We got on fire and kept hitting. We started being smart at the plate and swinging at our pitches and not going after what he wants us to swing at.”
Cloen started things going and the hitting became contagious. Brodie Stewart drove in two runs with a double in the huge eight-run outburst. Jaeger Shaffstall, Csizmadia and Marques Inman also drove in two runs apiece in salvaging the split.
Noah Bland had a double and a single and scored twice for the Panthers in the second game.
“It was like the opposite last year,” Piazza said. “The second group last year wasn’t ready to play. This group — they wanted to play. You can see the first three innings — it’s 11-0. We’re catching the ball, throwing strikes.”
Elyria senior Matt McFrederick tossed the first four innings and left with an 11-2 lead. It took a three-run sixth inning to finally win by mercy.
EC wouldn’t roll over though.
“These guys have been working hard and chomping at the bit to get in there,” Lisicky said of his younger pitchers. “They finally got their chance and it showed a little bit out there. We kicked it around a little bit and not really knowing where to be. It’ll be some growing pains but he’ll be fine. We brought in another young pitcher (sophomore Aaron Vazquez). They had a good approach — putting the ball in play.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.