The Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy baseball team last week came within a whisker of sweeping defending Principals' Athletic Conference champion Manchester.
The Royals defeated the Panthers in a 1-0 thriller April 10 at Manchester. On April 12 they lost to the Panthers in another barnburner 2-1.
In between, on April 11, CVCA won at PAC rival Tuscarawas Valley 7-5.
In the win over Manchester, senior Steven Taylor went the distance, yielding just three singles and striking out 4.
"Steven is a bulldog out there," said CVCA head coach Jason Herblet. "He stays out of trouble and places his pitches well. Anytime he's on the mound, I think we have a chance to go out and win the game. He just battles. He's a tough kid, he competes. I love to watch him pitch.
"Their pitcher threw well, too. He scattered our 7 hits. Steven scored our run in the fifth inning when their second baseman let the ball go right underneath his legs."
Sophomore third baseman Josh Junko and senior right fielder Chris Fair each had 2 singles.
Taylor had a single and a stolen base.
Juniors Drew Wilson and Matt Henning had a single apiece.
In the win over Tuscarawas Valley, CVCA survived five errors, including three in the sixth inning.
"That was very uncharacteristic of who we are. Usually, we thrive on our defense," Herblet said.
The Royals made up for their defensive mishaps by hitting the ball well.
"It was good to see that, good to see us bounce right back, after not hitting very well against Manchester," said Herblet.
Leading CVCA's 11-hit attack was Fair with 3 singles, 2 RBIs and a run scored.
Junior center fielder Josh Thacker had 3 singles and scored a run.
Wilson had 2 singles, an RBI and scored a run, while sophomore left fielder Sobiech had 2 singles and 2 RBIs.
Junko had a single, scored a run and stole a base.
Taylor and senior first baseman Matt Miller each scored a run. Miller also swiped a bag.
CVCA scored 2 runs in the first inning, a run apiece in the third and fourth and 3 in the fifth. The Royals never trailed.
Henning started and earned the win. He went 4 innings and gave up 2 runs and 2 hits, struck out 4 and walked 4.
Sobiech relieved Henning and pitched the fifth and sixth innings, yielding 3 runs and 4 hits and fanning a pair.
Thacker came on in the seventh to close things out and notch the save.
In the loss to Manchester, CVCA went up against senior pitcher Dalton Earich, last year's PAC Player of the Year.
The Royals managed just 4 hits - 2 singles by Junko, a double by Wilson and a single by Sobiech. Junko scored their only run on an error.
"Josh has stepped into the leadoff role really well," Herblet said. "He's hitting the ball well."
Manchester managed only 6 hits off of Wilson, who went the distance, allowing both runs in the fifth inning and striking out 6 and walking just 1.
"Manchester's winning run was scored when the umpire made an obstruction call," Herblet said. "Their kid overran third base, and our shortstop threw the ball to our third baseman. The ump said our third baseman got in the runner's way when he was trying to get back to touch third."
The coach is more than pleased with his team's pitching staff, especially his top three throwers -- Taylor, Wilson and Henning.
"If we can give them a little more run support, I think we're going to be in pretty good shape," he said.
CVCA was scheduled to take a 4-3 overall record and a 3-2 PAC mark into a home game April 13 with non-conference opponent Canal Fulton Northwest, but the result was not available at press time.
The Royals are scheduled to host PAC rival Fairless April 17 and, two days later, on April 19, travel to Fairless. The next day, on April 20, they are set to host Tuscarawas Valley. First pitch for all three games is set for 5 p.m.
On April 22, CVCA is scheduled to host non-conference foe Medina Highland in a doubleheader beginning at 10 a.m.