The Walsh Jesuit lineup gave starting pitcher Mark Mittiga a big lead, and he didn’t allow Nordonia a hit in his four innings of work as the Warriors won 9-0 at the High School Showcase at Akron’s Canal Park on Saturday.
After defeating the Knights 6-4 on Friday, the host Warriors (14-2) made an effort to get ahead again early, scoring two in the first inning.
Leadoff hitter Blake Jenkins singled and Gino Sassano walked. Jenkins then stole third and scored when Knights (12-5) catcher Scott Klein threw the ball into left field. Sassano scored on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Feltner.
Walsh continued its offensive onslaught in the second. Rory Ziegler led off with a triple off the left-field wall, and the Warriors went on to score six runs in the inning, knocking Knights starting pitcher Nick Armao out of the game with the score 8-0.
“Nick was constantly pitching out of 1-0 and 2-0 counts,” Nordonia coach Drew Hoisington said. “When you’re against hitters like that and they know a fastball is coming, they’re going to hack. And they didn’t miss fastballs today.”
Armao took the loss, dropping his record to 3-1.
Mittiga earned the win for Walsh, improving to 3-0. He walked two and struck out five.
“I felt good today,” Mittiga said. “I had command of all my pitches. I was able to throw my off-speed stuff for strikes and come back and get them with the fastball.”
Mittiga didn’t let the long rest of the second inning and the big lead get to him, striking out the first batter he faced in the third.
“It can be very easy to lose your focus with a big lead like that,” Mittiga said. “[Senior catcher Cassidy Brown] came out to me and told me to pitch like it was still the first inning. So I continued to go out there with the mentality that it was a tie game.”
Walsh coach Chris Kaczmar called it the best game he’s seen Mittiga throw all year, although he pulled him after four innings to spread the work around to his other starting pitchers.
The Warriors carry 29 men on their roster, unusually large for a high school team, and Kaczmar views it as a luxury.
“We have a lot of depth, especially in our younger classes, and they deserve to play,” Kaczmar said. “We’re going to keep giving guys opportunities and we’ve got a great group of seniors that understand what our value system is and they buy into it as well.”
The Warriors totaled 14 hits off Knights pitching, but only one went for extra bases. They consistently hit the ball hard, but were aided by some balls bouncing and falling their way.
“You’re going to have days like that in baseball,” Hoisington said. “But it’s the consistency. They stuck to their approach at the plate and we didn’t. It showed.”
Ziegler led the Warriors at the plate with a single, triple, RBI and a run. He also reached base after taking a curveball off the top of his helmet.
“[Ziegler] is having a tremendous year,” Kaczmar said. “The guys were barrelling things up today. We were consistent with quality at-bats, one through nine. And the results speak for themselves.”
Brown added two singles and an RBI and Jenkins had two singles, an RBI and two runs.
Adam Schreffler and Ryan Bauer had the only two hits for the Knights.