Mogadore senior Sam Graska took a moment to look around Canal Park and soak up the atmosphere.
As he stepped to the plate, he looked beyond the fence and saw the scoreboard — it showed a 2-2 tie in the ninth inning in the first Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame Summit County High School All-Star Game on Wednesday.
He looked in front of him and saw an infield with dirt and grass, a sight he can’t see at Mogadore home games.
He gripped his bat, and on a 2-2 pitch he lined a single to left-center field to score Nordonia’s Billy Smith and give Team Summit a 3-2 win over Team Akron.
“I was thinking, ‘Hey let’s switch places,’ ” Graska said in reference to Smith on second base after his two-run double tied the score. “The game was on the line and the pressure was on. It was a blast to come out here and play. We all just had fun out there. It’s baseball, you gotta have fun.”
Graska said most of Mogadore’s away opponents had grass infields.
“I am used to playing on Mogadore’s all-dirt infield,” Graska said. “Coming out here to play was absolutely beautiful.”
Team Summit entered the bottom of the ninth with one hit — a single in the second by Hudson’s Brian Snyder. The ninth featured a single by Hudson’s Tim Kennedy, a hit by pitch that allowed Twinsburg’s Nick Jaworski to reach, a two-run double by Smith and the game-winning single by Graska.
“It felt good to get that hit [to tie the score], especially after not getting a hit earlier in the game,” Smith said. “I was looking at the right-field gap. I was hoping to shoot one through and get a run. I happened to get a fastball over the inner half and hit it to left.”
Team Akron took a 2-0 lead in the third when Walsh Jesuit’s Cassidy Brown smacked a single to center to score Archbishop Hoban’s Aaron Cain and Firestone’s Tom Lehman.
“It was a great experience to play in this game,” Brown said. “I got to play with one teammate, Joe [Mockbee], and some other guys I know from the area. It was nice to be out here in a great ballpark and represent Walsh, and overall the Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame. I really enjoyed the whole experience.”
Team Akron almost led 3-0 in the fourth, but Stow’s Bryan Reginald threw out Mockbee at the plate from right field following a single by Springfield’s Kyle McLean.
“It was great to see kids in our conference do well,” Hudson coach Buddy Dice said. “Jaworski started at pitcher and threw two quality innings. The two kids from Stow [Reginald and KC Kolke] came out and played well. It was a fun game.”
Dice and Tallmadge’s Kenny Linn coached Team Summit, Firestone’s Aaron DeBord and Coventry’s Wilmer Caraballo guided Team Akron.
Brown, Lehman, Mockbee and McLean had two hits each for Team Akron. Coventry’s Jake Mazak and Hoban’s Anthony Osmun had one hit apiece. … Mockbee, Hoban’s Drew Lakos and Coventry’s Matt Ketler all pitched two scoreless innings for Team Akron. Mark Wysocki of St. Vincent-St. Mary and Brown each tossed one scoreless inning. … Jaworski pitched two scoreless innings for Team Summit. Reginald, CVCA’s Ryan Starcher, Norton’s Ben Brunty, Woodridge’s Brad Snyder and Nordonia’s Scott Klein tossed one scoreless inning.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. 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.