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Falls baseball stuns rival Stow

By MICHAEL LEONARD Sports Editor Published: April 23, 2017 12:00 AM
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As coach Scott Koenig put it, the past week was a case of agony, ecstasy and cold reality wrapped into one for Cuyahoga Falls baseball.

The agony came April 17 at Nordonia. Despite senior Will Rightley throwing a no-hitter against the Knights, Falls lost a 1-0 decision.

Falls bounced back April 18, however, as the Black Tigers scored a 5-2 win in eight innings at Stow-Munroe Falls. It was the first win for Falls in the Suburban League National Conference in two years.

The Black Tigers weren't able to savor the win for long. On April 19, Falls suffered an 11-0 defeat in five innings at Hudson.

Falls also split a doubleheader with Akron Firestone April 15, winning game one 4-2 and losing game two 12-8.

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As a result, Falls' record stands at 4-11, 1-7 in the National Conference.

"We're moving towards what we want," Koenig said. "We're starting to play, at times, great defense. We're starting to support our great pitching. Then, we turn around and get one hit at Hudson. We're just hot and cold with the bats right now."

In game one with Firestone, Kyle Borton pitched a solid six innings, giving up two runs off nine hits with three strikeouts. Freshman Alex Valente (2-0) scored the win by pitching a scoreless seventh inning.

Firestone tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, but Falls broke through in the top of the seventh. Alex Kolvey was hit by a pitch, shortstop Pat Horrigan singled and both moved up on a wild pitch.

Senior Nate Vassalotti came through with a two-run single to score the winning runs.

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In game two, Koenig played some of his younger players and Falls' pitching turned out to be a bit thin.

Kolvey gave up four runs in two innings, while Jack Kramer gave up three runs off five hits in 1.67 innings. Valente made his second appearance of the day, but gave up four runs in 1.67 innings. Horrigan got the final two outs.

Vassalotti had a good game at the plate, going 2-of-2 with a double, a single, two RBIs, two walks and three runs scored. Horrigan added a double, a single and two RBIs, while Borton had two singles.

"I think we have a little better team than them," Koenig said of Firestone. "We gave some kids a chance to play who wouldn't during the week."

The game with Nordonia was a frustrating one for Koenig, as Falls' lack of offense ruined a brilliant afternoon from Rightley (1-3).

Rightley went the distance, pitching six innings with no hits and three strikeouts. However, Rightley did give up five walks and the first of these led to the game's lone run.

"It was a clean game other than the five walks," Koenig said. "For the third game in a row, he walked the lead off-batter and for the third game in a row, that lead-off batter scored."

It was Nordonia senior Luke Alders who drew the walk. He then stole second, went to third on a passed ball and scored on an RBI groundout.

"I think they're one of the best hitting teams in Summit County," Koenig said of Nordonia. "Our guys made a lot of plays. Second baseman Zach Metzer had a great day."

The problem for Falls was Knights' senior Chris Nolan was just as good. Nolan went seven innings, giving up three hits and one walk, while striking out 10 Black Tigers.

"He actually had a really good breaking ball that day," Koenig said. "He kept throwing it outside and we kept chasing it."

In the Stow game, Falls' starting pitcher Jacob Johnson and reliever Zak Allen continued the no-hit streak until the bottom if the fourth inning, but Johnson had to be lifted after 1.67 innings due to control issues.

Allen (1-4) shut Stow down, going 6.33 innings, allowing one unearned run on three hits with four strikeouts.

With the game tied at 2-2 in the top of the eighth inning, Vassalotti led off with a single and Borton put down a sacrifice bunt, but was safe on an error. After a passed ball, Jacob Sage smacked a two-run double.

Following a wild pitch, Sage scored on an RBI groundout from Kolvey to make it 5-2.

"It was a good feeling," Koenig said. "It's the first win we've had [in the conference] in two years. The way we celebrated, you would have thought we would have won the World Series."

The celebrations didn't last long, however. Falls committed five errors and was unable to handle Hudson's aggressive base-running April 19 at The Ballpark at Hudson.

Borton (0-3) gave up 10 runs off eight hits in just 2.67 innings of work.

By contrast, Hudson sophomore Nolan O'Connell was on, giving up just one Falls' hit in five innings of work.

Falls was set to play its rematch with Stow April 20, but the game was postponed due to unplayable fields.

Koening noted the Stow game has been rescheduled to April 24 at Water Works Park at 4:30 p.m. Falls also will host North Royalton April 25 at 4:30 p.m., travel to North Royalton April 26 at 4:30 p.m. and then play Shaker Heights at 4 p.m. April 28 at Canal Park in Akron.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

Facebook: MLeonardRPC

Twitter:@MLeonard_RPC


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