September 17, 2014

Elyria
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High school baseball: Elyria Catholic follows script, fights back from early deficit to top Lutheran West, win sectional

Elyria Catholic's Brian Mahilo slides in safely at home. CHRISTY LEGEZA/CHRONICLE

Elyria Catholic’s Brian Mahilo slides in safely at home. CHRISTY LEGEZA/CHRONICLE

OBERLIN — Elyria Catholic has had a tendency this season to fall behind in games and then fight back to win.

It was no different Saturday afternoon as the Panthers climbed out of a hole with a five-run second inning to come back and defeat Lutheran West 7-4 in a Richfield Division III sectional final played at Oberlin College’s Dill Field.

Lutheran West (12-9) took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on RBI singles by Tim Gettinger and Collin McCartney against starter Joey Begany.

The Longhorns had a chance to add to the lead with the bases loaded and just one out, but Begany escaped with a strikeout and a pop out to second.

EC answered with five runs in the second on just two hits.

EC scored three of its runs on a balk, a fielder’s choice and an error before Lukas Redmond provided the big hit, a two-run single to give the Panthers a 5-2 lead.

“I was sitting dead-red fastball and his change-up and curveball were on today so I was sitting on the fastball and he threw it. I let my hands fly,” Redmond said. “I trust my team and they trust me. Everyone has a clutch hit here and there. Today it happened to be me.

“We just want to keep playing as long as we can.”

Begany (7-3) settled in and pitched six innings, allowing just one hit after the second inning. In the second, after allowing a leadoff double to Jake Pshock, he picked him off second base. Begany got in trouble again with a walk and a single, but thanks to a great catch by second baseman Christian Stanziano, EC with no damage.

“I threw all the usual stuff, but nothing was really moving for me,” Begany said of his early struggles. “My curveball was off, my fastball velocity was down so I came to the dugout and kind of told myself that I’m going to have to trust my fielders and just throw what I have. I threw what I had and trusted my fielders and it ended up getting me six innings.”

EC (17-10) added a run in the fifth inning on an RBI single by Christian Stanziano and another in the sixth inning on an RBI double by Sean Darmafall.

“That’s pretty much been our season, falling behind early and having to fight back so that was nothing new to us,” Elyria Catholic coach Bruce Lisicky said. “These guys know that the guy behind them is a good hitter and the guy behind that guy is a good hitter. We can put nine guys out there that can hit. They know to be patient and not take any selfish at-bats. If they’re not going to get something good to hit, we have confidence in the next guy that he’ll be able to hit ’em in.”

Things got interesting in the seventh inning as EC relief pitcher Angelo Cruz walked the first three batters he faced.

Daramafall, making just his second appearance of the season, came on to strike out the side, but not before the Longhorns scored a pair of runs on back-to-back passed balls.

He then walked and hit a batter to load the bases again before striking out pinch-hitter Nick Gambetta to end the game.

“We jumped out, but unfortunately we left the bases loaded twice and couldn’t push the runs across,” Lutheran West Trey Lamb said. “It’s kind of the way we’ve been playing all year. We play six really good innings and then that one inning kills us.”

EC plays the winner of the Columbia-Black River game that was suspended Saturday in the fifth with the Raiders up 8-2. They have to finish Monday in Independence with the winner playing Independence right after. EC plays the winner of that game Wednesday at Revere High School.

Contact Steve Walker at 329-7135 or djstevo34@hotmail.com.

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