No joy in Muddville: rainy season comes to a dreary finale

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Ignatius baseball knocked out of district finals.

By GREG ZITON ’13
Eye Sports Reporter

Half of St. Ignatius’s varsity baseball season can be summed up in two words: rained out. This season, which has been dubbed “the worst spring in the history of Ohio high school baseball” by head varsity coach Brad Ganor and many other Clevelanders, the Wildcats had 19 games cancelled (as of May 18th) due to rain or poor field conditions. Mother Nature was uncooperative from game one, as the Wildcats’ March 28th season opener against Walsh Jesuit had to be suspended with the score tied at two after six innings because of darkness. When it was finally finished another day, the Wildcats ended up falling 4-3 in extra innings. Among other cancellations were multiple games against rival and defending state- champion St. Edward and a game that was scheduled for May 6th at Progressive Field against Brunswick. Weather-permitting, that game will be made up on Wednesday May 25th at 7:00.

The other half of the season requires a little more elaboration. As Coach Ganor said about the 18 games the Wildcats have played, “We’ve had ups and downs. We’ve played really well at times and there have been other times when we haven’t played our best baseball.” Led by senior captains Mike Horejsei, Cory Finkler, Marques Pagan, and Neal Jacobs, St. Ignatius’s varsity baseball team has compiled a record of eleven wins and nine losses. The Wildcats started off the season with a 9-3 record, lost five straight to fall to 9-8, and then rebounded from the losing streak to claim their 23rd consecutive sectional title with an 11-1 win over Valley Forge on May 11th. They followed that up with a 12-3 victory over Olmstead Falls in the District Semifinals. However, their luck ran out in a 5-3 loss to Midpark in the District Final, ending the Wildcats’ postseason. In that game the Wildcats’ comeback bid came short, as they cut a 5-0 deficit in the second in- ning to a 5-3 score, but were unable to score again.

Looking at the season, the Wildcats were inconsistent in two of baseball’s three main areas. The team went as their pitching and defense went. They were consistently good on offense, though. St. Ignatius actually outhit their opponents in every game of their five game losing streak, and nearly every other game. Part of the reason for the inconsistencies on defense was all of the rain outs. The historically bad weather not only caused the cancellation of numerous games, but also many practices. You can practice hitting indoors, but it’s difficult to practice game-situation defense inside. The lack of games also meant fewer opportunities to experiment with defensive lineups and make adjustments so the team could play at their best.

On the mound the Cats’ best pitcher was senior Tim Donelon, who led the team in ERA and innings pitched. Other key pitchers were junior Zak Shockley, who led the team in strikeouts and had the 2nd best ERA, seniors Marques Pagan and Cory Finkler, and sophomore Mike Lamanna. On offense the Wildcats were led by senior Neal Jacobs, who led the team in home runs (7), RBI’s (29), and slugging percentage. Other important batters and fielders were seniors Cory Finkler, Joe Greco, Mike Horejsei, Tyler Kette, and Colin Gallagher, as well as juniors Tim McCoy, Mike Ruffing, and sophomore Dan Rowbottom.

Three of the team’s graduating seniors will continue their baseball careers at the collegiate level. Collegiate base- ball players from the 2011 St. Ignatius squad will be Cory Finkler at the University of Toledo, Neal Jacobs at Central Michigan University, and Joe Greco at Flagler College in Florida. The 2011 season will conclude with a game on Monday May 23rd against Benedictine and the above- mentioned Progressive Field game on Wednesday.