ELYRIA — With the way North Olmsted played defense, no one would believe the Eagles have practiced only one time outdoors this spring.
The Eagles managed to make a couple key plays in the field when they needed to and came away with a 5-4 win over Elyria on Saturday afternoon at George Day Field in non-conference play. North Olmsted improved to 5-2, while Elyria fell to 3-5.
“Defensively, we were pretty good,” veteran North OImsted coach Tim Murphy said. “Even the last inning on a ground ball to the shortstop — one of the fundamental things no matter what — keep the ball in front of you. He was able to make the throw.”
Senior Brandon Fatsie made all the plays, including starting a double play in the second inning to help give senior left-hander Brad Novak the win.
Fatsie never gave up on Zack Minney’s sharp grounder that opened the bottom of the seventh to pave the way for a one-two-three inning that provided sophomore Cal Smith with his school-record eighth career save.
“Definitely,” said Novak when asked if his defense had his back. “They played a great game. They got a big double play in a big situation. Brandon made some big plays, especially when you think we’ve only been outside to practice once this year. We’ve taken fungos on a field one time this year. To have a defensive performance like that, knowing we’ve only had one practice outdoors.”
North Olmsted cashed in on two unearned runs against tough-luck starter Jacob Csizmadia, who did his best both at bat and on the mound. Csizmadia had half of Elyria’s four hits off Novak, with designated hitter Zach Rosenkoetter getting the others.
Nonetheless, it was Csizmadia’s inabilty to shut down the Eagles after Elyria tied the game on Rosenkoetter’s sharp two-run single to right in the fourth inning that cost the Pioneers. The Eagles scored twice in the top of the fifth with two out to retake the lead on a single by Joe Keleman.
“I thought we would get out of the one inning,” Elyria coach Ed Piazza said. “We got the pick off at third but he started to miss spots and gives up the two-run single.”
North Olmsted’s Matt McKenzie opened the inning with a bloop single to right but when Zach Gillard tried to sacrifice him to second, Elyria catcher Brodie Stewart fired a strike to retire McKenzie on the force play. An error and a single by Fatsie loaded the bases but Stewart picked off Gillard at third for the second out. Csizmadia walked Matt Starcovic to load the bases for Keleman.
“Right now, the last two years, that’s Elyria baseball,” Piazza said of giving the runs right back. “We always give up runs after we score. Walk, error then a base hit. It’s that merry-go-round we never get off of.”
Elyria closed to 4-3 with a run in the fifth on Csizmadia’s deep sacrifice fly to center but the Eagles matched it in the sixth making with another unearned run. In the bottom of the inning, Rozenkoetter’s single to right was misplayed in the outfield, advancing him to third, where he scored on a wild pitch.
“The only real bad (error) we had,” Murphy said. “We had an outfielder dive for a ball. We try to emphasize if an outfielder makes an error, it’s two, sometimes three bags. The kid was trying to make a play. I don’t really get too crazy about that.”
Smith, after the play by Fatsie, retired Darrion Overall on a come-backer and finished off the game when pinch hitter Zach Shaffstall popped out to Scott Cooney at third.
“He’s just a sophomore,” Murphy said of Smith. “He racked up a bunch of saves last year and it’s already his second one this year. He tied the school record the other day — he’s a hammer — does a great job coming in and closing for us.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.