Kirt­land routs Elyria Catholic, reaches re­gional

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - SPORTS - By Nate Barnes nbarnes@news-her­ald.com @NateBar­nes_ on Twit­ter

Coach Luke Sm­rdel’s mes­sage headed into Kirt­land’s Divi­sion III Lake­wood Dis­trict fi­nal against Elyria Catholic May 17 was suc­cinct and res­o­lute.

“If you guys go out and play your game,” Sm­rdel told the Hor­nets, “you’re bet­ter than any team we play.”

Lit­tle else needed said. The Hor­nets re­bounded from the 2017 Lake­wood Dis­trict fi­nal, when Kirt­land was run-ruled by Lutheran West.

Af­ter three in­nings against Elyria Catholic, pro­ceed­ings ap­peared to mimic last year’s. Kirt­land faced a five-run deficit.

The Hor­nets didn’t fold and, this time, laid a beat­down of their own. Kirt­land scored 10 runs in the fourth in­ning, added five in the fifth and de­feated the Pan­thers, 15-7, to ad­vance the re­gional level.

“They never gave up and in the fourth in­ning, our bats went crazy,” Sm­rdel said. “It was un­be­liev­able.”

Kirt­land ad­vances to a Mas­sil­lon Re­gional semi­fi­nal May 24 against Grand Val­ley at Mas­sil­lon Wash­ing­ton.

Mike Zeuli, Ryan Lipps and Tyler McCrory recorded three-hit games for the Hor­nets. McCrory drove in four runs while Lipps and Zeuli added three RBI apiece. The Hor­nets’ vic­tory also marked Sm­rdel’s 100th win with the pro­gram.

Elyria Catholic held the Hor­nets hit­less in the first two in­nings and built a 5-0 lead by the end of the third.

Kirt­land pro­ceeded to send 15 bat­ters to the plate in the fourth in­ning, who rapped out seven hits and drew six walks. Luke Po­to­sky put the Hor­nets on the board with a RBI sin­gle, McCrory fol­lowed with a two-run sin­gle and Joey Mon­gel­luzzi’s two-run sin­gle tied the score, 5-5.

Zeuli gave Kirt­land its first lead with a two-run dou­ble to left, Lipps plated Seann McGill with a sin­gle, Po­to­sky drew a bases­loaded walk, Zeuli scored on a wild pitch and Tyler Brat­ton walked with the bases loaded to score Kirt­land’s 10th run of the fourth.

The Hor­nets en­sured their dis­trict ti­tle with a five-run fifth. Zeuli knocked an RBI sin­gle, Lipps scored two with a dou­ble and McCrory added a two-run dou­ble to give Kirt­land a 15-5 edge and shun any lin­ger­ing mem­ory of last year’s de­feat.

“They don’t want some­thing like that to ever hap­pen again and they know what it’s like,” Sm­rdel said. “To­day, it re­ally showed that be­ing on the other side’s great. Hope­fully we carry that to re­gion­als.”

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