emerged with a 6-2 win over Cleveland St. Ignatius to claim the 2008
Division I state baseball championship on Saturday at Cooper Stadium in
Sophomore pitcher/shortstop Stetson Allie recorded the save for the
Eagles (24-6) and also clubbed a pair of doubles to lead the offense.
Sophomore pitcher/shortstop Stetson Allie recorded the save for the Eagles (24-6) and also clubbed a pair of doubles to lead the offense.
“I was feeling real comfortable at the plate,” Allie said. “They weren’t really throwing me anything I could hit, but I was able to hit the ones when they made a mistake.
“Pitching-wise, I felt good the first couple of innings. But that last inning, I was gassed. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get through it. This is just a great feeling – I love it.”
Allie’s pitching line (3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 K, 0 BB) was impressive and he was able to make the lead stand up for winning pitcher Nick Slogik (4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 K, 0 BB).
It was a crushing loss for St. Ignatius (27-6) which ended the regular season with the No. 3 state ranking according to the Associated Press. The Wildcats knocked off the state’s No. 7-ranked team (Cincinnati Moeller) in the semifinals on Thursday. St. Edward was unranked to end the regular season and defeated No. 1 and defending state champ West Chester Lakota West on Thursday in the semifinals.
St. Edward and St. Ignatius split their meetings in the regular season with St. Edward winning 11-4 and St. Ignatius winning 7-2. Saturday’s rubber match was for all the marbles and the Wildcats were dejected afterwards.
“It’s tough,” fourth-year head coach Brad Ganor said. “It’s really tough and frustrating. Our kids worked so hard and this hurts right now. Hats off to St. Ed’s.”
Ganor was emotional, but he realized it was a great day for Cleveland high school baseball.
“It’s great for Cleveland baseball and it’s great for our conference,” he said. “There were three teams from our county down here today with Walsh winning the Division II title. It’s great for our rivalry that we played St. Ed’s in the state finals. We just came up empty today against a great ball club, but I’m proud of our kids.”
St. Ed’s first-year head coach Danny Allie agreed with his counterpart regarding the unusual nature of the title game.
“Yeah, that makes it pretty neat to beat our rival in the state championship game,” he said. “These kids all know each other and some of them play summer baseball together. So yeah, that does give an extra special meaning to it.”
In the top of the second inning, St. Edward drew first blood. Allie, the cleanup hitter, laced a double to the right-center gap to lead things off. With one out, junior centerfielder Vince Marquard drew a walk. Junior first baseman Sean Finzer then popped the ball up for what looked like the second out of the inning. However, the wind carried the ball and it fell just over the shortstop’s head for an RBI single, giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
Senior designated hitter Michael Nieberding followed that up with a single to right which loaded the bases with one out. However, St. Ignatius was able to avoid disaster as junior starting pitcher Neil Butara recorded a strikeout and then got a ground ball out to end the inning.
In the bottom half of the inning, St. Ignatius mounted a threat as senior first baseman Joe Dorocak smacked a one-out double to right. However, St. Edward’s Slogik, a 6-6 junior, clamped down after that and recorded two quick outs to end the inning.
In the top of the third, Butara ran into control problems. He walked three of the first four batters of the inning (including an intentional walk of Allie) to load the bases with one out. Marquand then hit a line-drive sacrifice fly to center, which scored senior second baseman Nick Embrogno to make the score 2-0 in favor of St. Ed’s. Butara was then able to get a strikeout to stop the bleeding right there.
St. Ignatius got on the board in the bottom of the third inning. Senior shortstop Aaron Klinec reached on an infield single and advanced to third on a one-out single from junior third baseman Frank DeSico on a hit-and-run play. Junior designated hitter Brad Clement then grounded out, but Klinec scored to make the score 2-1. It was very close to a double play, but the umpire ruled Clement was safe at first, much to the chagrin of Danny Allie who ran out to argue. Slogik then recorded the final out of the inning as the Eagles retained the narrow lead.
In the top of the fourth, St. Edward got the run right back. Nieberding singled and then advanced to second on wild pitch. He then went to third following a sacrifice bunt from senior left fielder John Hubach. Senior third baseman Michael Fox then belted an RBI single to give the Eagles a 3-1 advantage.
In the top of the fifth inning, junior Mike Konya replaced Butara on the mound for St. Ignatius and promptly recorded a 1-2-3 inning facing the meat of St. Edward’s lineup (Allie, Boland, Marquand).
In the bottom of the fifth, senior second baseman Kirby Becker led off with a single for the Wildcats and that was all she wrote for Slogik. He was replaced by Allie on the mound. Sophomore Andrew Busser entered the game and replaced Allie at shortstop.
Allie quickly recorded a pair of strikeouts and it looked like he was going to get out of the jam unscathed. However, DeSico roped a single over the second baseman’s head which scored Becker to make the score 3-2 in favor of St. Ed’s. DeSico was thrown out at second to end the inning.
Koyna recorded another perfect inning in the top of the sixth, including a strikeout. Going into the bottom of the sixth, it was truly anyone’s game.
The St. Ignatius fans were beginning to get fired up as Clement was plunked in the back by Allie to lead off the inning. However, the Wildcats then grounded into a 1-6-3 double play which really took the wind of their sails. Allie then cranked up his fastball and recorded a strikeout to end the frame with the Eagles still up 3-2.
Fox led off with a double down the right field line for St. Ed’s in the top of the seventh. Embrogno then laid down a bunt and all hands were safe as St. Ignatius unsuccessfully tried to throw Fox out at third. Embrogno stole second on the first pitch to sophomore catcher Alex Lavisky which really put pressure on the Wildcats. Lavisky then cracked a line-drive single over the shortstop which scored Fox and Embrogno as the Eagles took a commanding 5-2 lead.
But St. Edward was not quite done. Allie crushed a double to left center which one-hopped the fence and would have been a home run in most high school parks. (Cooper Stadium has very deep dimensions even for a professional park – 355 down the left field line and 385 to left-center.) That put runners on second and third with no outs.
Sophomore Jack McLinden then took over as the pitcher for St. Ignatius, replacing Konya. He threw a wild pitch which plated Lavisky to make the score 6-2 as the St. Edward faithful went crazy behind the third base dugout.
McLinden quickly recorded a pair of strikeouts and a flyout to end the inning with no further damage.
In the bottom of the seventh, St. Ignatius put runners on second and third, but Allie was able to get a fly ball to left which ended the game as the Eagles celebrated.
“It’s overwhelming,” Danny Allie said. “We weren’t expected to get here. We entered the season with a bunch of seniors that never played very much and we had a really young team. We just battled all year and every game somebody stepped up. When we needed a big hit, somebody would always deliver. That built our confidence and we played together as a team. It’s a tribute to the players and everything they’ve done.”
As for the younger Allie, he is already dreaming of a professional career in baseball. He has his eyes set on the 2010 Major League Baseball draft.
“Yeah, my goal is to get drafted in a couple years and go right into pro ball,” he said.
For St. Ignatius, Butara (4 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 K, 4 BB) was the losing pitcher. Konya (2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 K, 0 BB) and McLinden (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 K, 0 BB) rounded out the pitching duties for the Wildcats.
St. Ignatius’ offense was led by DeSico, Dorocak and Becker who each finished 2-for-3.
For St. Edward, Fox was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Nieberding was 2-for-2.
It marked just the second baseball state title in school history for St. Ed’s, which also won it all 10 years ago in 1998.