When Travis Pero and Scott Noel took the mound in separate baseball games Monday they felt nervous.
Both players were pitching in their first Akron Division II district semifinals Monday at Summit Lake Park’s George Sisler Field.
Their feelings were natural, and their responses left their coaches smiling.
Pero guided Archbishop Hoban to a 4-1 win over Buckeye, and Noel guided Tallmadge to a 10-3 win over Field. The teams will meet in a district final at 4 p.m. today.
“I was here last year and warmed up during a couple of innings, but didn’t get in,” Pero said. “I was nervous as heck, but I came out here and pitched. My coach told me I was getting the start the other day. I was pretty excited for this one. I had my curveball diving down on them a little bit. They were having trouble catching up with my fastball outside. I was working it and trying to overcome the heat out here. This is the hottest day I think I have played Hoban baseball in Ohio.”
Sunshine and temperatures in the 80s greeted everyone in attendance.
The Knights (17-10) beat the Bucks (19-8) with eight hits. Pero, a 6-foot and 200-pound junior right-hander, pitched 6⅔ innings, struck out six and allowed three hits. Sophomore Dom Hinton got the final out.
“There was great pitching by both teams, and great defense and timely hitting by us,” Hoban coach Jim Diestel said.
“Pero threw the best he has thrown in probably his entire life. If I haven’t seen anything better than that it was in summer ball somewhere, which I am sure he has the capability of. He threw phenomenal in a big pressure moment. [Senior] Anthony Osmun leading from the behind the plate was key along with the defense of guys such as [seniors] Austin Farber, Sean Trexler and Aaron Cain, who in center field is the safety net of safety nets.”
Sophomore Jordan Burns gave Hoban a 1-0 lead in the first when he singled in senior Cody Hargett. The Knights led 2-0 in the fifth when Trexler hit a sacrifice fly to score Cain.
Hoban scored twice in the sixth. Junior Brennen Bell doubled in Burns and freshman Drew Kline scored on an error.
“This is a big win,” Hargett said. “We had to come out and play our best. Buckeye is always a good team. We have a great lineup who hits the ball.”
Buckeye senior Joe Bruening hit a double and triple. He scored a run in the seventh after a Nico Galizio groundout.
The Blue Devils (14-12) dispatched the Falcons (18-8) with 12 hits. Scott, a 6-foot-2 and 230-pound senior left-hander, pitched 5⅔ innings, struck out 10 and allowed eight hits. Sophomore Jason Beaumont got the final four outs.
“Last year I was in relief a lot and never pitched in a game like this,” Noel said. “I definitely was nervous at the start. I got off to a little bit of a shaky start, but I would not want it any other way than me out on the mound taking control with my guys behind me. We really came through as a team.”
Noel also smacked a two-run home run in the third and hit an RBI single in the sixth.
“Scott just got named to the Mizuno All-Ohio Series, which is a great honor,” Tallmadge coach Kenny Linn said. “He also got first-team all-district in the inland area and first team All-Suburban League. He received all those accolades [Sunday] and he came out [and] showed why he has been named that. He did a great job on the mound.”
Tallmadge sophomore John Rensel hit two doubles, scored two runs and had one RBI.
“This is my first district semi,” Rensel said. “It was a really good experience. My first at-bat started things off well.”
Seniors Zach Cleary, Zach Skraba and Kody Edwards also had key hits for Tallmadge along with junior Chris Gray and sophomores Matt Noel and Connor McVey.
“Hot weather brings hot bats,” Linn said. “That is what we believe. This is a team that believes it can make a run.”
Senior Mitch Kisamore (3-for-4 at-bat), junior Alex Bower and senior Brian Backer had run-scoring hits for Field.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.