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Cuyahoga Falls baseball coach Scott Koenig doesn't believe in moral victories, but he said outside observers have noticed improvement for the Black Tigers.
"Even the umpires are telling me we look so much better than last year," Koenig said.
It would be nice if Falls' improvement, however, was reflected in the win column.
Falls opened the week with an 11-0 loss in five innings to Cleveland St. Ignatius April 3 at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea.
The Black Tigers then lost a pair of close games to defending Suburban League National Conference champion Wadsworth, falling 4-3 in nine innings April 4 at Wadsworth and 5-2 April 5 at Water Works Park.
Falls record stood at 0-6, 0-3 in the National Conference as of press time.
Koenig said the reason for scheduling Ignatius was simple.
"That's a regional-bound team every year," Koenig said. "We have to test ourselves and see how far we have to go against the very best."
Falls managed only two hits in the loss, as Alex Kolvey broke up a no-hitter with a single in the fourth inning and Logan Fordyce singled in the fifth.
Beyond that, St. Ignatius starting pitcher Conner Adams was masterful. The Louisville recruit struck out six Black Tigers and allowed one hit in four innings of work.
Kyle Borton (0-2) took the loss on the mound for Falls.
Koenig said his team played much better 24 hours later, getting a run in the top of the seventh inning to force extra innings against the Grizzlies.
Senior Will Righley pitched a solid 6.67 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits with five strikeouts. Zach King pitched 2.33 innings of scoreless relief, while freshman Alex Valente took the loss, allowing a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth.
"He took the loss, but he came in [April 5] and pitched outstanding," Koenig said.
Koenig noted senior Nate Vassalotti led Falls' offense with two singles, a stolen base and two sacrifice bunts, each of which led to runs.
In the top of the seventh, Zach Metzger manufactured the tying run for Falls. He walked, went to second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third and came home on a throwing error from the catcher.
"They bounced back after 24 hours," Koenig said. "It was a tough day with all the wind we had. Our defense was probably the best it has been in two years here."
On April 5 against Wadsworth, Kolvey (0-1) took the loss, going 3.2 innings, allowing four earned runs. He was lifted in the fourth inning after allowing three walks in a row.
Down 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Rightley got Falls on the board when he was hit by a pitch, stole second and came home on an RBI double from Borton.
Rightley also scored Falls' second run in the bottom of the sixth inning. He doubled, went to third base on a balk and scored on a sacrifice fly by Vassalotti.
"Our main focus is, we've got to start doing the little things right and everything will be fine," Koenig said. "We're not doing that right now. We're having issues on the bases."
Falls was scheduled to play Akron North April 5, Brecksville-Broadview Heights April 6 and play a doubleheader vs. Kent Roosevelt April 8 at Water Works, but results of these games were not available at press time.
Falls has a full week of National Conference action ahead of it. The Black Tigers will host Hudson April 10, travel to Hudson April 11 and host Nordonia April 13. First pitch for all three games is set for 4:30 p.m.