July 25, 2014

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High school baseball: North Ridgeville’s Matt Feierabend works his magic on the mound in victory over Vermilion

North Ridgeville's Nolan Freeman returns to first base safely on a pick-off attempt. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

North Ridgeville’s Nolan Freeman returns to first base safely on a pick-off attempt. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

VERMILION — North Ridgeville pitcher Matt Feierabend knows he isn’t going to blow anyone away when he’s on the mound. So far this season he hasn’t had to.

Feierabend won his third game without a loss, keeping the Vermilion batters off-balance and allowing just one run in six innings in the Rangers’ 4-1 West Shore Conference road win.

“That’s Matt’s game … he gets kids to hit his pitch,” Rangers coach Matt Ponting said. “He changes speeds, he mixes and he hits spots. He doesn’t ever overpower anyone but he gets them to hit his pitch and we play defense behind him.”

Feierabend was as efficient as he was effective. The Sailors (5-6, 1-4) were aggressive at the plate, swinging at the first pitch 10 times in 20 at-bats.

That allowed the North Ridgeville hurler to get through innings quickly.

“My approach was that if they were going to swing, let them swing,” said Feierabend, who had seven-, 11-, six- and five-pitch innings. “The wind was blowing in and they were hitting everything in the air and I trust my fielders. In and out and I threw a lot of cutters to try to get some kind of movement on it. They just kept getting underneath it with the late movement.”

Vermilion scored first in the bottom of the third inning. With one out and Nick Barkdull on second, Caleb Waller walked on four pitches. Ryan Barnes singled to left-center to load the bases before Alec Adams sharply grounded to first baseman Nolan Freeman, who cut Barkdull down at home.

Junior pitcher Josh Buchanan followed with an infield single to the shortstop hole to drive in Waller.

Catcher Nick Ragnoni flew out to deep center to end the threat.

Buchanan was cruising along on the mound for the Sailors. He allowed just a single, a walk and a hit batter in the first three innings, but the Rangers (6-6, 4-2) made some adjustments.

North Ridgeville scored two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings. Catcher Ben Rankin drove in the Rangers’ first run with an RBI double in the fourth, followed by an RBI single by left fielder Tyler Arnold.

In the top of the fifth, Nathan Colbert and Freeman had RBI singles to give North Ridgeville a 4-1 lead.

“We started off the game seeing what he was going to do,” Ponting said of Buchanan. “Once we saw he was going to be in the strike zone we made an adjustment. We crowded the plate and started being more aggressive. Once we took that outside corner away we started hitting the ball pretty well.”

The Sailors loaded the bases with two out in the fifth but couldn’t score.

“We’re a young team and we left a lot of runners on base,” Sailors coach Jeff Keck said.

Mike Martin pitched a perfect seventh, striking out a pair, to earn his first save of the season.

Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or macsportstalk@gmail.com.

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